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Sausage my Grandpa made

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, I am new to the forum.  Just to share a bit about myself,  I have been making my own sausage for 10 years or so.  I've been making jerky for 20.  I built a smoke house similar to the one my grandpa used all his life.  His was about 10' by 10' with racks about 6'6" above the floor.  The rack were made of bamboo.  We live in southeast Texas and bamboo can be found locally.   He built a small fire on the dirt floor in a shallow hole.  He'd cover the fire with a piece of steel to keep the flame from running and mostly produce smoke. 

 

Now some of you may know that winter temps in Texas can be balmy.  Mid 50's to even mid 70's is not uncommon.  My Grandpa, along with my Dad and other family members would make sausage from venison and pork annually.  This normally happened in November or December after enough deer had been taken.  They always had a few pigs or knew someone nearby that that some for sale.  The sausage would be a mix of venison and pork.  It was ground, mixed together, seasoned, stuffed and placed in the smokehouse.  It may be the next day before they took it out, wrapped it and froze it.  I can remember this well with exception to the seasoning mix.

 

I begin years ago making my own as I mentioned above.  I have made several batches without cure. I have made it both with and without.  I don't know whether my Grandpa used cure or not.  But never did we have sausage go bad.  There appears to be a huge concern about smoking sausage the old fashioned way.  Much discussion about maintaining temperatures in certain ranges to reduce the risk of bacteria growth.   I've never seen this bacteria growth so talked about become an issue.  Can someone explain why, based on the info I have provided.  I suspect there are rural smokehouses operating all over the world for generations that are not too concerned about temp, but more so about color, curing time and keeping the right amount of smoke in the house.  

post #2 of 11

Hello Mark.  Welcome.  I see this is your first post.  Please take some time and swing over to Roll Call and introduce yourself so that we may give you a proper "Hello".  All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have.  As for your question:  Here is my opinion for what it is worth.  Others will have different advice.  This is only my opinion.

 

I think you answered a couple questions yourself.  Curing time and the right amount of smoke.  These are learned life skills.  Like salting, smoking meat has been used for AGES to preserve meat.  Do you know if the meat was brined before grinding and stuffing?  What you also MUST remember is that when advice is offer here we have no idea as to the skill level of the person asking the question.  We have to error on the side of caution when giving our answers.  Food safety MUST be our primary concern.  Some folks want to get their new first smoker and then dive in to sausage making 2 days later.  If certain skills have been passed down to you through generations then you are very lucky indeed.  I must end this by saying I would strongly discourage anyone who does not already possess tried and true sausage making skills from trying to make sausage without a cure.  Hope this helps.

Danny

post #3 of 11

Welcome Mark!!  I must have got the sausagehead gene from my grandpa from Germany.  Nobody else in the family ever got the bug except me, but the rest sure love to eat it.  I know from talking from my grandpa about sausage making is that he blanched or simmered his "cooked sausage" more in Germany in the non fresh catagory and other than salt, no cure was used in fresh sausage much like here.  i agree with what KC5TPY said in his post.  Check out what is used by the folks on here and heed their advice on using the proper amount of cure for smoked sausage.  I've been making sausage for over 40 years now and i have always used cure for smoked sausage.  Having been in the meat buisness as a butcher and in management, i am probably more concerned about food handling than most, having seen what can go wrong by not following safe handling and processing of sausage and meat in general. There are many here that i concider experts in sausage making and if you have any questions just ask and ideas and help will be on the way.  Reinhard

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply KC5TPY. Yes,  I realized I'd answered some of the question myself.  I've made enough sausage to know what works.  I was just hoping someone had run enough tests to positively determine why bacteria growth(spoilage) does not occur every time cure is not used.   It happens rarely, but when it does I fully understand it can be dangerous.  But like you said,  this has been done for ages.  The cure took the risk out of the process and I believe it a good thing.  I am still curious.  mark421

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Reinhard,  yes experience is an valuable asset in this business, as in most!   But somehow the old timers got away with smoking sausage without cure.  Although, we know salt and sugar act to reduce growth of bacteria themselves, and apparently with proper technique, can be used to safely cure.    I know there was a lot of sausage made without sodium nitrites and was just curious if we knew why, at times, growth of bacteria seems to explode.  mark421

post #6 of 11
The bacterial growth "spurt" was from salt that did not have naturally occurring nitrates in it.... If you bought from a meat monger that used "nitrated salt" ... you were alive on Monday..... all the other meat mongers went out of business.....
post #7 of 11

Welcome Mark!!  I must have got the sausagehead gene from my grandpa from Germany.  Nobody else in the family ever got the bug except me, but the rest sure love to eat it.  I know from talking from my grandpa about sausage making is that he blanched or simmered his "cooked sausage" more in Germany in the non fresh catagory and other than salt, no cure was used in fresh sausage much like here.  i agree with what KC5TPY said in his post.  Check out what is used by the folks on here and heed their advice on using the proper amount of cure for smoked sausage.  I've been making sausage for over 40 years now and i have always used cure for smoked sausage.  Having been in the meat buisness as a butcher and in management, i am probably more concerned about food handling than most, having seen what can go wrong by not following safe handling and processing of sausage and meat in general. There are many here that i concider experts in sausage making and if you have any questions just ask and ideas and help will be on the way.  Reinhard

 

Hi Reinhard Have you any good recipes for making Bratwurst. I was stationed in Germany for 2 years, and ate some great tasting Bratwurst..Tried of few of the premixed ones, not what I was really looking for.

Thanks Dan

post #8 of 11

Hello Mark.  Here is my opinion for what it is worth.  Others may have different advice.  This is only my opinion.  This all goes back to experience.  IF you are butchering your own fresh meat and know the time the animal was killed and what temp the meat has been kept at prior to butchering and how quickly it was cooled to the proper holding/ageing temp.  And IF you know what food hygiene techniques were used in the skinning and prep for hanging the meat.  And IF you are rigidly controlling safe food hyieine techniques and controlling the temp of the meat during butchering, grinding, mixing, and stuffing.  And IF the proper seasonings in the proper amounts are added.  And IF the proper temp is maintained during the smoking process.  And IF the proper amount of smoke is added during the smoking process.  And IF the process is carried out for the correct amount of time.

 

I don't know about you but that is to darn many IF's for me.  Especially when advising new folks who we know very little about.  We CAN NOT advise folks not to use a cure on the open forum.  To do so would be irresponsible.  We do not know their level of experience.  Not having a pop at you Mark but we must think of all the new folks who might read this.  As I stated above, if you have tried and true methods passed down to you through the generations I envy you.  I just might send you a PM asking for a recipe for that sausage.  :icon_biggrin:  No offence meant.

 

Chef Jimmy is our big dog when it comes to food safety.  I have asked him to take a look and offer his advice.  Good luck.

Danny

post #9 of 11

Danny summed it up pretty well. In Grandpa's day " he " an/or those he knew well, raised the hog, butchered the hog, were super careful to keep the equipment and meat clean making sure there was no contact with the contents of the digestive system, made the sausage at the coolest time of year, used Salt that likely had some natural nitrate content, used a fairly large amount of salt compared to modern recipes and smoked it a long time at temps that either cooked the sausage or reduced the water content to a point that inhibited bacterial grown. This whole process is one that worked and was passed down. If sausage was made improperly a) it was never made again or b) no one was around to pass the recipe on... The whole " cure is mandatory " on any open forum is because the majority of newbies are just that, coming to learn how to make sausage and the old time techniques that work are taught face to face. They are not something that is easily put in to words compared to writing down a recipe that uses cure and guarantees, in most situations, safety. The main reason for using cure is to "eliminate" the possibility of getting Botulism. Coming in contact with the Botulinum Clostridium bacteria is rare so the " Grandpa did it without cure for 70 years.." can be valid WITH the precautions mentioned above. The important thing to remember is although rare, Botulism is extremely dangerous and if it does not Kill you, will leave you Paralyzed and on life support until you do die some years later. The risk is just not worth doing it Grandpa's way just for sentimental or heritage purposes unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing. And although YOU can make sausage anyway you want, the only restriction here is, for the safety of our members we only allow the posting of sausage recipes that contain Cure. I hope this answers your question...JJ

post #10 of 11
As many have already stated new world way is with cures. The mysteries of the old world art of sausage making are just that for most of us, a mystery!

Now I will say that we as a society have made our digestive systems soft in comparison to what they were in the old school days. Not saying it is a bad thing, just saying we have changed so much on how we handle, process, store, cook, etc........our food. That it has also adjusted our digestive and immune systems. So what was ok in the old school ways may work today, but our systems may not be able to handle them.


As if the horse needed to beat anymore. The goal of the new world way of making sausages is to provide a safe product. I look forward to seeing your input with sausage making. I am a big fan of traditional old world foods, just tweaked a little bit.

Jeramy
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

I thank all who replied to my question about old fashioned sausage making without cure.  I certainly did not mean to encourage anyone to try something they are not familiar with, especially something that could cause sickness or death.   I understand your need at SmokingMeatForums.com to share sound and safe practices.  I've just been curious how they got away with it in the old days.   I've read some here and realized there are likely folks here who know the answer.  Thanks again!  I think I got it.   

 

I would share a bit of my own experience with meat.  Most here likely know this already due to their own observations but this is s great place to discuss.  All meat has a limited amount of time between death of the animal and time of safe consumption.  Different meats have different time spans between "fresh" and "gone bad".   Pork and chicken will go bad quicker than red meats.   But regardless of type, the clock starts upon death of the animal and depending on how that meat is handled from that moment on will determine the length of time prior to "gone bad".   This is where some of those "if's"  that KC5TPY mentioned above come into play.  One may not keep his meat at proper temperature for certain time or not clean the meat well or get it contaminated during butchering.  His fresh meat time span has been reduced.    I'd suggest that both these occurrences are leading cause for early spoilage of game meats used in home made sausage.  Speaking of game meats primarily since that is where majority of my experience has been.   But this applies to all meats.  

 

Venison has a remarkable fresh life span when chilled and carefully cleaned very soon after the kill.   It can be safely kept cold for a lengthy period if necessary although it is always best to get it in the smoker as soon as possible unless you are experienced with aging meats.   I remember years back, it was not uncommon to see several whole deer stacked in the bed of pick-ups or even tied to the hood coming back from a successful hunt in central Texas.  That is foolish and a sure way to ruin your expensive venison.

 

Where I am from we are over run with wild hogs.  This pork makes excellent smoked sausage but the fresh time span is much shorter than venison.  They are always dirty and extra care must be given to the cleaning process.    So yes there must be some time tested methods used(experience) to get this meat from the woods, into the smokehouse and on to freezer without incident. 

 

Many here may be using store bought beef or other meats for their sausage making.  There are a few unknowns for us with store bought meat.   The main concern for me is when was it killed and how clean is it?  Both those limit the time remaining before spoilage and that is where the need for cure comes in.   The cure comes to the rescue!  It retards the spoilage and allows us to make sausage safely with less regard to the "if's".  

 

DaveOmak mentioned that salt available years ago may have been higher in nitrate content.  That is an interesting idea although maybe difficult to research.  If you have any info on that I'd enjoy reading up on it.  I figure most old timers knew of cure.  But many homesteads were for from well stocked suppliers.  They did things the best way they could.  Through trial and error.  We don't have to take those chances today fortunately.   I just don't want to get so far away from the old ways that we can't survive if the wheels fly off this wonderful supply train we have become accustomed to in the new world.  

 

Had a buddy ask if he could drop a cleaned and quartered doe off at my place today.  I kept experimenting years back with this sausage and jerky making until the word got out.  I'd used my friends as taste testers.  Now I have these ice chests just show up like this.  lol.  Oh well,  nothing smells better than warm smokehouse full of venison on a cold winter day!  You guys be safe!  mark421

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