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Cured and smoked sausage question

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Is it safe to cure pork for sausage, grind it, stuff it and then freeze the sausage BEFORE you smoke it? We want to smoke it a few weeks after we make it. Are there any problems that I should be aware of?
post #2 of 36

I don't see how that would be different from freezing breakfast sausage and cooking as you need it.  I would be careful thawing it out, keep in fridge for the thaw.  I would hate to have it sit on the counter top for a couple of hours and then sit in a smoker for a couple of hours before getting to temp.  Don't think natural casings will be affected negatively, maybe collagen casings would get soft?

 

Al

post #3 of 36

I would highly recommend not doing this.  With a product that you are curing, you really should cook it within 12-24 hours of making the product because otherwise the nitrite will dissipate and once you cook the product weeks later, it will not be properly cured or not even cured at all if all the nitrite has dissipated by then.

 

I would either wait to make the product until you are ready to smoke it, or make it and smoke it and just reheat it when you want it in a few weeks.

post #4 of 36

I really don't see a problem as long as you give the cure time to do it's thing. I'd let my sausage age in the refrig for 24 hours then do what you want, after a day cure they're just like a store bought sausage . only better.

Midwest maybe you can explain, I never heard of the cure dissipating, but I'm always ready to learn something new


Edited by DanMcG - 11/5/10 at 3:17pm
post #5 of 36

What is the point of the cure if you keep the sausage frozen/refrigerated and then cook in a hot smoker?  If the sausage is intended to be eaten right away and as long as you get past the danger zone in 4 hours and get to the recommended internal temp you don't even need cure.   I make fresh sausage without the cure all the time but it is handled differently then when I make a slower cooked, cured sausage.  The cure he is adding during prep will help preserve the "color" and help guarantee a safe product.

 

Dan, I would think that if the product if frozen for 8 - 10 months then prepared you will find some loss of the 'curitative properties' but a couple of weeks, I agree will not affect it.    But then again, I'm not real excited about eating anything that's been in the freezer for 8 -10 months.

post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by alblancher View Post

.    But then again, I'm not real excited about eating anything that's been in the freezer for 8 -10 months.


Come on Al, If you're like me it would never be in the freezer 8-10 weeks let alone 8-10 months
 

post #7 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidWesternRandS View Post

I would highly recommend not doing this.  With a product that you are curing, you really should cook it within 12-24 hours of making the product because otherwise the nitrite will dissipate and once you cook the product weeks later, it will not be properly cured or not even cured at all if all the nitrite has dissipated by then.

 

I would either wait to make the product until you are ready to smoke it, or make it and smoke it and just reheat it when you want it in a few weeks.

 

I was thinking I read this somewhere before, and now that you said it, I'm sure I read that before. I don't remember where. I think it was longer than 12 to 24 hours, but it wasn't more than a couple days either. I would not do this.

 

Bear
 

post #8 of 36

Seems like we are all correct in our opinions.

 

 

“Cured meats develop rancidity more rapidly than frozen fresh meats.  It is customary to freeze bellies or hams only before curing.  In addition to rancidity, changes in flavor and texture occur in frozen cured meats.  The relative stability of refrigerated cured meats decreases the need for frozen storage: however, the end user may desire to freeze portions of large products, such as hams.  This can be done if the meat is properly wrapped and not held for more than a few weeks.  Longer storage periods lead to flavor changes”

 

 

Handbook of food science, technology, and engineering, Volume 2

 By Yiu H. Hui

post #9 of 36

Freezing. Meat products that have salt added to them during processing are not particularly suitable for freezing. Salt accelerates the development of rancidity and thus decreases freezer life. With a freezer set at 0 degrees F, intact ham and bacon can be frozen for two months whereas sliced bacon and most sausages have a freezer life of one month. When the freezer is set at -15 degrees F, freezer life is doubled.  University of Minnesota Extension Service,  Processing Meat in the Home,  Richard J. Epley and Paul B. Addis    

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #10 of 36

need to be more specific. Cure the meat before grinding? I would grind then cure. I dont see a problem with it but the sausage will not not have the same sausage consistancy.  The meat will become mushy or not have the right texture. Remember your looking for taste, but your also looking for right presentation of the sausage should feel when you bite into it.

post #11 of 36

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by DanMcG View Post

I really don't see a problem as long as you give the cure time to do it's thing. I'd let my sausage age in the refrig for 24 hours then do what you want, after a day cure they're just like a store bought sausage . only better.

Midwest maybe you can explain, I never heard of the cure dissipating, but I'm always ready to learn something new

I agree that you need to let any product you are curing sit in the fridge for a period of time, unless you are using some sort of cure excellerator (I always use a cure excellerator such as sodium erythorbate and I smoke the product immediately).  I would recommend 12-24 hours of time for the sausage to "age" (or however you want to describe it) in the fridge, but then once you have reached this time, if it were me, I would go ahead and smoke it.  Even if a product doesn't cure right, it will still taste good and it should still be edible (assuming food safety guidelines were followed), but you will notice a slight change in flavor and possibly texture.

 

And Dan, I agree and prefer homemade sausage to store bought sausage!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alblancher View Post

What is the point of the cure if you keep the sausage frozen/refrigerated and then cook in a hot smoker?  If the sausage is intended to be eaten right away and as long as you get past the danger zone in 4 hours and get to the recommended internal temp you don't even need cure.   I make fresh sausage without the cure all the time but it is handled differently then when I make a slower cooked, cured sausage.  The cure he is adding during prep will help preserve the "color" and help guarantee a safe product.

Cure, along with giving you a "redder" colored product, will also change the flavor profile.  If you take a bratwurst that is typically a "fresh" product and make it into a cured product, it will have a slightly different taste, so cure does hold some importance other than aiding in meat preservation.
 

post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by alblancher View Post

Freezing. Meat products that have salt added to them during processing are not particularly suitable for freezing. Salt accelerates the development of rancidity and thus decreases freezer life. With a freezer set at 0 degrees F, intact ham and bacon can be frozen for two months whereas sliced bacon and most sausages have a freezer life of one month. When the freezer is set at -15 degrees F, freezer life is doubled.  University of Minnesota Extension Service,  Processing Meat in the Home,  Richard J. Epley and Paul B. Addis    

 

 

 

Al,
A bit extreme?

My meat freezer is always at 0˚.

If I was to listen to this, I'd have to throw away 95% of my stash.

 

Bear

post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by atcnick View Post

Is it safe to cure pork for sausage, grind it, stuff it and then freeze the sausage BEFORE you smoke it? We want to smoke it a few weeks after we make it. Are there any problems that I should be aware of?



Ok back to the original question. I can't answer it but I was wondering how others would hold the raw cured sausage for lets say 3 weeks? In the frig in a plastic bag? .

post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanMcG View Post





Ok back to the original question. I can't answer it but I was wondering how others would hold the raw cured sausage for lets say 3 weeks? In the frig in a plastic bag? .


OK Dan, back to my original answer--I would not even think of doing that.

When I have time, I will see if I can find where it said "That is a NO-NO".

 

Bear

post #15 of 36

If you are using real cure (nitrite and/or nitrate) and not just salt you can freeze after 24 hours with no problem.

 

Cured products freeze well for a year of more if the freezer is 0 F or below.  Extension service quote is correct, there is a big difference between 0 F and -15 F in the length of time a product will hold.  However most 0 F freezer are able to hold cured meats for well over one year.  Of course packaging prior to freezing is really the important step.  Vacuum pack and it will last years.

 

Slack the product off in the refridgerator to keep product texture and flavor correct.

post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearcarver View Post




I would not even think of doing that.

 

Bear


I wouldn't either, I'm sure it's shelf life is limited, and maybe if vacuum sealed it would be a bit longer.  I got to research this too, 
 

post #17 of 36

I have cured and smoked much sausage and CB and then vac packed and froze for several months without a problem.  I try and use fresh sausage after freezing within 3 mos. 

post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShooterRick View Post

I have cured and smoked much sausage and CB and then vac packed and froze for several months without a problem.  I try and use fresh sausage after freezing within 3 mos. 


Me too Shooter, but the thing that was asked was "Can you cure & stuff sausage, and then hold it for 3 weeks before smoking?"

 

I would not, and I read you should not, but I have to find where that was---Rytek's??

 

Bear

post #19 of 36

The quotes I posted I believe answer that question.  Do not freeze cured meats for more than a few weeks.  The OP asked about a couple of weeks and the references say that is ok.  Not sure it is the cure that causes the problem, a question posed by Bear and others, or the salt that is included in most cures as implied by Epply and Adis.

 

Bear,

 

I too would have to throw out the majority of my freezer using these guidelines.  The references cited where (similar to FDA guidelines) to assure the safest, most "near fresh" meat possible.  Just like we all cheat a bit on final cooking temps we all cheat a bit on freezer time. 

 

For a couple of weeks between make time and serve time go ahead and freeze the sausage.  Defrost in the fridge and smoke in a hot smoker being careful to follow the 4 hour rule.  Bring to safe internal temp and serve.   MWR&S said cure changes the flavor profile.  I believe the greatest change in flavor is due to the salt in the cure.  I don't want to argue how a bit of cure 1 changes the flavor of sausage because I can tell you that with all the other stuff I put in fresh sausage you will be pressed to taste a tsp or two of cure when making a fresh/smoked sausage.

 

The citations revolve around the quest for the best/safest product available.  What you want to sell to a customer.  We as individuals sometimes make decisions based on convenience and time factors.  It the OPs concern is making the sausage before hand because he doesn't have time or the facilities to make it the day before, his option of freezing for a couple of weeks is in my opinion a very valid one.  The slight taste change caused by the salt and or cure is a minor determinant in his decision making.  I suggest making the sausage without using cure and handle it as a fresh smoked sausage product using natural casings.  I am still concerned that collagen casings would not handle the freeze and subsequent defrosting as well as natural. 

post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by alblancher View Post

The quotes I posted I believe answer that question.  Do not freeze cured meats for more than a few weeks.  The OP asked about a couple of weeks and the references say that is ok.  Not sure it is the cure that causes the problem, a question posed by Bear and others, or the salt that is included in most cures as implied by Epply and Adis.

 

Bear,

 

I too would have to throw out the majority of my freezer using these guidelines.  The references cited where (similar to FDA guidelines) to assure the safest, most "near fresh" meat possible.  Just like we all cheat a bit on final cooking temps we all cheat a bit on freezer time. 

 

For a couple of weeks between make time and serve time go ahead and freeze the sausage.  Defrost in the fridge and smoke in a hot smoker being careful to follow the 4 hour rule.  Bring to safe internal temp and serve.   MWR&S said cure changes the flavor profile.  I believe the greatest change in flavor is due to the salt in the cure.  I don't want to argue how a bit of cure 1 changes the flavor of sausage because I can tell you that with all the other stuff I put in fresh sausage you will be pressed to taste a tsp or two of cure when making a fresh/smoked sausage.

 

The citations revolve around the quest for the best/safest product available.  What you want to sell to a customer.  We as individuals sometimes make decisions based on convenience and time factors.  It the OPs concern is making the sausage before hand because he doesn't have time or the facilities to make it the day before, his option of freezing for a couple of weeks is in my opinion a very valid one.  The slight taste change caused by the salt and or cure is a minor determinant in his decision making.  I suggest making the sausage without using cure and handle it as a fresh smoked sausage product using natural casings.  I am still concerned that collagen casings would not handle the freeze and subsequent defrosting as well as natural. 


I would not argue with you, unless I find the thing I read that said not to hold cured sausage without smoking for any length of time.

But I will definitely argue an extreme flavor change with Tender Quick added into the picture.

 

When I first got on this forum, and I was learning how to cure & smoke, I asked everybody on here if I could take the very bland fresh Deer sausage that my son got from the butcher shop, and dry cure it like Bacon, and make it taste like good smoked sausage. I got answers like, Why don't you take it apart & mix cure in? & why would you want to do that? And many other questions, but no REAL answers, except maybe a couple of "maybe?--Try it".

 

So I did try it on 2 rings. I dry cured it with TQ, and did everything like I would do Bacon the same thickness & same weight.

Then I smoked it for most of the day, bringing it to 165˚. It was soooo outstanding that I took all of the rest of the lousy, extremely bland deer sausage out of the freezer, and did it all the same way. 

So I took the worst bland Venison Sausage, and tuned it into outstanding Smoked Venison Sausage, by simply dry curing it with Tender Quick, and nothing else.

 

Bear

 

On Edit:    Here is that Venison Sausage Conversion Thread:

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/forum/thread/84129/venison-sausage-converted

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