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Dry/crumbly sausage problem

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Just did some hot Italian sausage and, as the title says, not the best outcome.  The taste/spice mix was great, just not the best texture.  What do you guys think could be the problem?  I try to keep the meat cold.  I thinking that it's the lean/fat ratio.  I got the pork from a hog that slaughtered locally.  When I asked the slaughter house guy what ratio he uses for ground pork, he said "I just mix it together".  So, what do ya think?  Thanks.

post #2 of 21

In my short but active sausage making career, I have found that dry and crumbly is one of two things.  The meat and/or equipment got warm, or the meat was undermixed.  My rule of thumb that I read somewhere is that the meat should be mixed until it is  sticky enough to take a test patty slap it on your palm and hold your palm down without the meat falling.  I have made really lean sausages using ony loin meat or only 90/10 beef and had good texture and moisture so fat/meat ratio may not be the culprit.


The sausage experts will be along soon to clear this up but I hope this helps in the meantime.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks, worktogthr.  Didn't think about the mixing part.  I'll need to pay closer attention to that on my next batch (Wed).

post #4 of 21

Did you buy the meat already ground? If you ground it yourself what part or parts of the pig did it come from. It does sound like the ratio was incorrect

post #5 of 21

A quote from a trusted sausage maker..." Mix to get a good bind and sticky texture than, Mix Some More! "  The Bind keeps the sausage from being crumbly. Fat contributes to moisture in terms of mouth feel, so in lean sausage, <20% Fat, adding Nonfat Dry Milk Powder is a good idea to help retain moisture. I have seen NFDM added at anywhere from 1/2 to 1 Cup to 5lb Meat. Lastly, cooking or smoking at 225°F or higher to an IT of just 165°F is all you need. Sausage gets dry when over cooked...JJ

Edited by Chef JimmyJ - 2/29/16 at 11:26am
post #6 of 21

Mix the meat until really sticky....  I mix in a 20# hand crank mixer..  I add Ames Phos for moisture holding capacity and Soy Protein Concentrate for a filler and moisture holding....  Salt is important to complete the stickiness of the meat...  I use 2%...   

Smoke at low temps ~120 for a few hours then slowly raise the smoker temp to 160-170 until the sausage is cooked...


The above temperature parameters are safe when using cure #1 in the sausage...   If you do not use cure #1, follow directions on package...


Edited by DaveOmak - 2/29/16 at 3:10pm
post #7 of 21

These paragraphs are from "Formed Ham Products" BUT....  making a sausage is basically making a formed pork product...   The rules are the same....



The process for making formed products looks easy but there is more to it. First of all the individual meat cuts must stick together and when cooked, retain the shape of the mold without having any holes inside. This is accomplished by producing sticky exudate on the surface of meat pieces. Think of it as glue that binds the individual meat cuts together upon heating. The exudate is formed when the muscle’s cell structure is disrupted which releases protein called myosin.The disrupting of the muscle structure is accomplished by a physical action such as cutting or mechanically working meat pieces inside of the tumbler. For making formed meat products fine cutting or grinding is out of the question and massaging or tumbling is the preferred method. Using mechanical action by itself will tenderize meat but will not produce enough exudate. To release more proteins salt and phosphates are injected to meat prior to tumbling.



Curing. It is expected that adding about 3% of salt results in optimal protein extraction. Salt makes the cells swell and some proteins are released and a solution (exudate) of water, salt and protein is created. In order to produce even more exudate, more proteins must be released which is accomplished by adding 0.3-0.5% phosphates. Phosphates, although much more effective than salt in protein extraction, their effectiveness hugely increases when they are combined with salt.

post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies and advice. Think my problem may have been undermixing.
@dave. Do you add the Ames and soy to all your sausages?

The pork I have been using was ground at the slaughterhouse. They called it their coarse grind. I season and then regrind with my coarse plate. Thanks again folks.
post #9 of 21

I double grind everything and usually mix my seasoning at the end. Would it be beneficial to grind once mix all the seasonings and then grind with the finer plate? I'm thinking this might be a good idea to help get all the meat/fat/spices mixed together.

post #10 of 21

You need to mix the meat until it becomes really sticky...   Kind of breaks down and becomes a gloppy mess...    To maintain some sort of "tooth" to the meat when biting into it, grind through a larger holed plate....  


Yes I use Ames Phos and Soy Protein Concentrate (SPC) in all my sausage..   I also use cure #1...  The cure #1 allows me to cook at a low temperature for a long time so the meat / sausage does not fat out and prevents botulism.....    Smoker temp never goes over 150-160....   sausage may take 24 hours or longer...   I also cook according to the chart below...


FSIS Guidance on Safe Cooking of Non-Intact Meat Chops, Roasts, and Steaks April 2009

Temp °F/ Temp °C /Time for 5.0 log Reduction

Unit Time

130.......... .86 min.

131 ...........69 min.

132.......... 55 min.

133.......... 44 min.

134.......... 35 min.

135.......... 28 min.

136 ..........22 min.

137 ..........18 min.

138 ..........14 min.

139.......... 11 min.

140 ...........9 min.

141............ 7 min.

142 ............6 min.

143 ............5 min.

144 ............4 min.

145 ............3 min.

146 ...........130 sec.

147........... 103 sec.

148 ............82 sec.

149 ............65 sec.

150............ 52 sec.

151............ 41 sec.

152............ 33 sec.

153 ............26 sec.

154 ............21 sec.

155 ............17 sec.

156 ............14 sec.

157 ............11 sec.

158 ..............0 sec.

159 ..............0 sec.

160 ..............0 sec.



The required lethalities are achieved instantly when the internal temperature of a cooked meat product reaches 158 °F or above.

Humidity must be considered when using this Time/Temperature table.

This Time/Temperature table is based on Thermal Death Curve for Salmonella in Beef Emulsions in tubes (Derived from Goodfellow & Brown1, 1978) Regulatory Curve obtained from Jerry Carosella, Deputy Director, Microbiology Division, Science and Technology. All times that were a fraction of a minute or second was rounded up to the next whole number (e.g., 16.2 seconds for 155 °F was round up to 17 seconds).

________________________ 1. Goodfellow, S. J. and W. L. Brown. 1978. Fate of Salmonella Inoculated into Beef for Cooking. Journal of Food Protection. 41:598-605.

post #11 of 21

Dave, The Cure #1 in every style of sausage sounds interesting. I am curious at what PPM you add and is there any big change to the flavor. Does a Brat still taste like a Brat? Thanks....JJ

post #12 of 21

It tastes like a cured brat....     Breakfast sausage tastes different with cure in them too...   All beef sausage / kielbasa taste different, and I think better... more like corned beef....   

The reason I use cure...   1...  for safety....   2..  Flavor....  todays pork and beef lack a bunch of flavor...  the cure adds a bunch of flavor that is lacking.......      Generally, I keep to the lower end when adding cure...  120-140 Ppm nitrite..   too much cure changes the flavor and texture of the meat...


You have to remember....   when our great grandparents messed with sausage, the pigs and beef had a ton more flavor...   Grass fed... darn near free range...    today's meat sucks big time for flavor....

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

A lot of what you guys say sometimes goes right over my head.  Especially the PPM.  How much is that in tsps? :)  I haven't gotten into smoking sausage because my Traeger doesn't do 120 so everything is fresh.  Guess it's time to order some Ames Phos and Soy Protein Concentrate.  I really appreciate how helpful and patient you all are with us newbies. 

post #14 of 21

Thanks Dave. Makes for another flavor dimension adding cure to a sausage like Italian and Brats. I was looking for an amount that would enhance but not make every sausage taste hammy or like kielbasa.


Bob...Adding cure to a recipe in Volume, 1 tsp and such limits you to following that recipe at the given weight of meat or a multiple, 2X the meat. Adding cure by Weight say 1g per Kg of meat, lets you make batches of any size not jut 1/2 or 2X the recipe. PPM or Parts Per Million involves a little more math but now not only can you follow a recipe, you can Create them or Modify them precisely and replicate exactly each time. Quick example...There are 48 teaspoons in 1 Cup. But if a recipe calls for 1tsp Ground Clove in 1 Lb of sausage then you make 48 Lb and add 1 Cup Ground Clove the flavor will be different, too much Clove! The greater the Volume Clove you add into the Cup the more compression and more Settling you get. Instead of 48 Tsp there may be the equivalent of 50 to 55 teaspoons Ground Clove actually in the Cup. Measure by Weight and 1gram X 10 = 10grams every time...JJ

post #15 of 21
Originally Posted by bobrap View Post

A lot of what you guys say sometimes goes right over my head.  Especially the PPM.  How much is that in tsps? :)  I haven't gotten into smoking sausage because my Traeger doesn't do 120 so everything is fresh.  Guess it's time to order some Ames Phos and Soy Protein Concentrate.  I really appreciate how helpful and patient you all are with us newbies. 


May I recommend a grams scale that operates in the 0-100 gram range...   about $10 most places...   Amazon for one...  


Bob, evening....   Math lesson time......   Part Per Million is exactly what it says....    1 part for every million parts...   1 pound in a million pounds is 1 Ppm...  1 gram in a million grams is 1 Ppm..


That's why we convert to gram weight...   454 grams in one pound...  28.38 grams in one ounce... 


The decimal equivalent....    0.000001 is 1 Ppm... 


If you have 100 pounds of meat X 454   X  0.000156 Ppm nitrite needed =7.08 grams of nitrite to make 156 Ppm in 100 #'s of meat...  


Since our cure #1 is 6.25% nitrite,  divide 7.08 grams by 0.0625 (decimal equivalent for 6.25%) = 113 grams of cure #1 or 113 / 28.38 =  3.99 oz.  of cure #1


FWIW....  I do not use the maximum recommended Ames Phos or Soy Protein Concentrate....   I usually shoot for the middle of the range.....


Suggested usage levels: http://store.theingredientstore.com/amesphos.aspx
One third to one half of one percent (0.3 to 0.5%) of the finished product weight.   (0.4 grams per 100 grams is approx. what I would use)

For home sausage making: Use approximately one fourth to one half teaspoon per pound of meat. Dissolve the phosphate in water before mixing into the meat mixture. Mix into meat until well distributed, mix for approximately five minutes.


Typical Usage Amounts

Name Common Amount Max Allowed
Soy protein concentrate 1-3% (10-30 g/kg) As needed   (2 grams per 100 grams of meat is what I would use)
Soy protein isolate 1-3% (10-30 g/kg) As needed
Non fat dry milk 1-3% (10-30 g/kg) As needed
Starch 1-5% (10-50 g/kg) As needed
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 

Dave, you're my hero.  Thanks so much for the math lesson :77:.  I think I might have it now.  If I want 140ppm nitrite for 10 lbs of meat it would be 10.17grams?  Man, should have payed more attention in math class.  You know, "I'll never use this stuff". :hit:Again, really appreciate the help and advice!

post #17 of 21

You've got it !!!.....   Don't try that using "Common Core Math"....   I've tried to figure it out, and it makes absolutely no sense to me...


You'll use it...   Just to give yourself kudo's...   and to keep it fresh so you can prove to your friends you really do know what you are doing to keep their food safe...

post #18 of 21

I think I will just copy / paste that to a word doc and laminate it  and add to my sausage folder.   Thanks Dave.

post #19 of 21

Ben, morning....   It's good to have around....  At least you can check folks recipes, they post on the web, to verify they know what they are doing..

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 

Never heard of "Common Core Math".  Our poor children. :icon_eek:  Anyway, last question or two.  After you mix the meat, spices, etc. do you stuff immediately or let it rest overnight in the fridge?  I tried looking for a poll or suggestions for sources of casings.  Any place really shine?  I've only ever used Syracuse casing.  Thanks again for the help/advise.

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