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Its definitely a process

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Two batches of fresh sausage - an all beef sausage and Brats, and then some Kabanosey, all 5lbs each this past weekend. I know I know, 'where's the Q-view?', I started on Saturday night around midnight and went to 4:30am, so no Q-view. I'll do better next time, promise!

My question has to with color. What makes smoked sausage that nice dark mahogany? My Kabanosey were very pale at the end of the cooking time described in the recipes I've read. I end up leaving in the smoker set at 190F for a lot longer (like 2-3x longer) than expected. Then when I think they're done, I take them out and hang them in the basement, at which point I notice they're not even in coloring either. Whats up wit dat? Are they not getting enough smoke? I ordered the Smoke Daddy Big Kahuna but I haven't installed it on my smoker, a Centro 30" electric.

Same goes for my Kielbasa, fairly pale when done, though they're more even in color.
post #2 of 13
Very important!...did you use meat cure? If you did not, your sausage may not be fit to eat due to the possibility of botulism. The cure prevents this from happening. The other part of what the cure does is allow the meat to take on a deep smoke color as well as giving the smoked meat that nice pink color.
This is not necessary in bbq due to the higher temps you cook at. However the 140*-175* cooking range of hot smoked sausage is the perfect range for sickness.
Hope this helps.
post #3 of 13
I am dying to know..did you put cure in your mixture? I also think that is your problem. If you don't use cure you should either cook and eat immediately or freeze them in their raw state to be cooked later. Even with the cured sausage I don't mess around, I always keep below 40*F or in the freezer.
post #4 of 13
I agree, did you use a cure? Pink curing salt? If not, I would not eat as you may be asking for trouble. Here is a quote from the bible of making sausage. "The color that develops in smoked meat or sausage is the result of the carbon compounds combining with the meat pigments. Additionally, the CURES that are used when smoking give the meat a red color. During the drying process, these cures help bring out the color even more." I have made several batches of Kielbasa and they all turn out that nice mahogany color, but a cure and drying them first is essential. What temp do you start your smoker at? Sausage benefits from starting at 130 degrees and keeping it there for about an hour. This does 2 things. 1, helps dry the casings and 2, helps to bring on a darker color. Keep us informed.
post #5 of 13
I know for a fact at the local polish delis here, they baste the kabanosy and kielbasa in blood while smoking. That is how you get the real dark color on SOME of the polish sausages, not all.
post #6 of 13
The only other thing I would as is "bloom". A blooming period, wherein the sausage is allowed to sit or hang at room temperature for a period of time also seems to intensify the color you are striving for. I usually go for about twelve hours or so.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Lol - ok ok I get the message, yes, I used one level tsp of Prague #1 for 5lbs. They're hanging in the basement where they'll stay until Saturday, at which point they should be the right amount of dryness.

Oh, and I mixed the spices and cure in the night before, put them 19mm smoked colligen cases, and then let them cure in the fridge overnight. Maybe I should leave them in the fridge longer, like a full 24hrs?
post #8 of 13
Not sure if any of these were your problem, but I'll throw them out anyway.

If there's moisture on the outside of the casings, they will not absorb the smoke and turn dark. Generally (for cured sausage) you hang them to dry (perhaps with a fan blowing on them for a couple hours) before smoking, or put them in the smoker at ~ 100F - 120F for an hour or so to dry the casings before increasing the temp and applying smoke.

Also, if the sausages are touching each other or the sides of the smoker, the casings will not darken where they are touching.

I guess there could not have been enough smoke too??
post #9 of 13
I'm with Panther, the drying of the outside is important to the color development as is the drying them in the smoker for a period of time with low heat.
Did you do them all in colligens? Pretty skinny Brats....either way they should take on the color fine if ya had a good smoke going.
I'd be interested to know what happened.

Edit: What do ya mean by more even in color?
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Panther - They weren't touching in the smoker, but now you got me wondering about drying beforehand and low temp drying. I thought by leaving them in the fridge overnight, the casings would dry out enough. But I did take them from the fridge right to a 130F smoker, so you may be onto something. Not sure what you have for equipment, but I think next time I will try MES without the water bowl.

Dan - Brats and beef sausage were done in hog casings, but they were fresh (now frozen) and not smoked. The Kielbasa I did a few weeks ago were also in hog casings, and were an even color compared to the Kabanosy, which seem to have parts that are darker and some lighter. The Kielbasa instructions included an hour in the smoker at 100F, so maybe that's the difference. I'm going to try to take a few pics tonight, hopefully they'll do better justice than my trying to describe what's going on.

....in the mean time life's imperfections sure are tasty.
post #11 of 13
If you bring them straight from the refrigerator to the smoker without drying time, the sausages will sweat because they are cold. Hanging for a while allows them to come up in temp so they stop sweating. That's why I like to use a fan blowing on them, it helps to evaporate the moisture off the outside. Putting them in the smoker for a while at 100F does the same thing. During the drying stage, you definitely want to have your dampers and exhaust wide open for max airflow to help remove the moisture. Depending upon what smoker you have, it might help to leave the door cracked open too.

When the casings dry out, they become somewhat sticky. This is referred to as pellicle. The pellicle allows the smoke to adhere to and penetrate into the casing.

Glad they tasted good anyway!
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
I think that must be it Panther, allow them to warm up (and dry off) after coming out of the fridge. What part does air humidity play, do you know? And, do you think I was correct in leaving my water bowl out of the smoker (30" Centro electric, btw)?

Thanks again for the great replies.

post #13 of 13
I'm not sure. I have an MES and I always use a water pan. My reasoning was because it helps hold a steady temperature and to recover temps quicker when you open the door.

This is an portion of the info that can be found in the "Smoking" section @ http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/smoking-meat.htm

This discussion is about using a water pan in a small smoker when using wood or charcoal as fuel. I assume it would be the same or perhaps even more true of an electric:

"When using wood, it always has about 20 % moisture, even when perfectly dried on the outside. During the first stage of combustion this wood dries out and any remaining moisture evaporates with the smoke into the chamber. Once the wood has burned out, the remaining charcoal has no water left, and in dry climates the product may be too dry. Ready made charcoal briquettes have no internal moisture, so we have to supply the water in a pan.
Another reason for the water pan is that most little factory made smokers are enclosed units that don't receive a steady supply of air. Fresh air contains moisture, which cools sausage casings or the surface of the meat. When smoking with an open fire, lots of fresh air enter the smoker and keep the meat from drying out. No matter how cute a small factory unit may be, it will not be able to perform the same duty without a little help from a water pan. .... placing water filled pan inside of a small smoker will help to control and maintain temperature at that level."
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