I've made fresh linked sausages a few times, but haven't yet tried fermented or smoked sausages. As a beginner project, I'm planning to try a 3 lb beef/pork summer sausage this week. I've looked at many postings and many different recipes, but there seems to be a lot of variation in how long people allow for curing the meat mixture, fermenting the sausage, then allowing the sausage to bloom after smoking is done.
Here is the best I can gather for a generic procedure:
1 - Grind the meat/fat.
2 - Mix the salt and Cure #1 into the ground meat.
3 - Place the meat mixture into the refrigerator. Let cure from 1 hour to 3 days, stirring daily.
4 - Mix in the spices.
5 - Stuff the casing.
6 - Let the cased sausage hang at room temp from 0 to 2 days. At a mininum, it should hang long enough to be dry to the touch.
7 - Smoke slowly, keeping the smoker temp about 25 degrees hotter than the IT of the sausage. Go to IT of 152 to 155 deg.
8 - Cool sausage down rapidly in cool running water.
9 - Hang at room temp for 0 to 4 hours to bloom.
10 - Refrigerate overnight to 1 week for best flavor.
Assuming I've got the basic process covered, I'm uncertain how long to go on steps 3, 6, and 9. I'm planning to keep this initial sausage attempt refrigerated after completion, and eat it within a week or so. But it would be nice to know how to make it shelf-stable so that it will stay good for a few days without refrigeration if need be. Also, I wonder how much the texture and flavor are compromised if the curing and fermenting steps are on the short end of the spectrum.
I'd be grateful for any expert advice.
Thanks very much in advance,