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