First sausage run this weekend - Kind of long

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Original poster
Aug 31, 2015
Did my first run of sausage this weekend. Had fun, learned lots of stuff, came away with lots of questions to research. I'll need to read up on how to add photos to make the story more appealing/compelling

The Plan:
Make my first run of fresh sausage
Put up some sopressata to hopefully be ready for Thanksgiving
If possible - whip up a second fresh sausage (chorizo or brats).

The Gear:
Kitchen Aid grinder (for now)
Hakka 3L horizontal stuffer

The Goods:
12 lb. pork shoulder
UMAI artisan meat kit (Amazon)
Hog casings (The Sausage Maker)

Had to de-bone the pork shoulder, which took a little time, but was fun. I got rid of a bunch of sinewy looking connective tissue that didn't look like that pork fat comprising the fat cap.

Lessons learned
  • Boneless would have been $1.50 (total not per lb.) more expensive, and future sausage runs may start with that as a time saver. But the experience and knowledge gained going through the shoulder and it's anatomy were well worth it.
  • My knives could use a little sharpening, and I'll be in the market for a set of whetstones to DIY.
  • I was rushed during production, so butchering before will be in the schedule.
  • In my grinding (see below) I had to clear the blade of connective tissue. How closely should I be trimming of non-meat?

Fresh Sausage - Hot Italian 5 lb batch
Recipe from Chartuterie (Ruhlman/Polcyn) verbatim, just a little less red pepper flakes (wife doesn't like it too hot)
Cubed meat & fat (80/20 - which I think should bring net to about 25% fat) & added spices to chill. Only chilled a couple of hours while I prepped the next phase. I think overnight will be in the works next time.

Started out with the smaller die in the Kitchen Aid, and the grind started okay, but started to look a little weird (smeared). I went to the larger die and it did a little better for a while.

I had to clear some connective tissue wrapped around the blade. Could be a combination of inadequate gear and meat was just chilled - not par frozen.

Ultimately got it all ground and put it to chill.

Separateed the hog casings in the package and rinsed the hog casings to be used. Got them on the stuffer tube. It took a little doing to get them on but after getting used to how they're shaped, it worked out.

Ultimately used 2 casings for the batch. I had some air pockets, but overall pretty good results. I spun them into 6" links to hopefully make them fit pretty good in the Food Saver bags & ensure I've got sausage hanging out of my bun when used for sandwiches.

Let the the links sit over night in the fridge (needed to make dinner) & separated them and vacuum sealed them on Sunday in packages anywhere from 8-13 oz.


  • Need to par-freeze the meat as it REALLY makes a difference in the grind, particularly with the grinder I have.
  • Need to keep in mind which way I twisted the last link. I think I undid the ends of a couple - LOL.
  • I need to practice stuffing and not getting air pockets.

The Aftermath - Dinner
I had some pizza dough handy, and had the wife make up a quick tomato sauce (I had to run out and get a new big bottle of Bombay Sapphire). So I made us 2 pizzas:

Home cured/maple smoked bacon, sliced red onion, fresh oregano, mozzerella.

Some of the freshly minted Italian sausage, basic tomatoe sauce, mozzerella.

They were both dynamite, with the simplicity of the bacon/onion winning the night, but the sausage was very satisfying and a great start.

Sopressata UMAI
The prep & Italian run took all of Saturday, so Sunday morning, I got back to it making the batch of Sopressata using UMAI dry bags.

Took the 1 Kg of cubed pork and ground it through the larger die (I think I need larger holes for salumi - a larger grinder too), mixed in spices/cure as directed and added starter.

Stuffed in the UMAI bags, had some air pockets in one of the chubs.

Labeled them with starting weights and they're fermenting in a spare bathroom (door closed) that stays in the 55-60% humidity range and 68-73 F temp range. I have a hygrometer/thermometer with a 24 hour high/low tracker which is nice (can't have too much data).

Fermentation started - Noon Sunday. I plan to start fridge drying Tuesday 6 PM (after work) - 54 hours. See questions below.

I checked on them this morning, temp/humidity staying stable (humidity actually popped up to 62% which is a high for that room). Definitely a nice smell in there (something magical seems to be happening) and they are taking on a reddish/salami looking color.

  • I need practice stuffing to not get air pockets!!!!
  • The instructions said grind then mix in seasonings, but I think mixing them in (including cure but not fermenting starter) THEN grinding would be easier, better and likely allow for more even mixing. Thoughts?
  • Will an air pocket be an issue for this process? It's pretty sizable, about the overall volume of a peanut in shell (with 2 nuts).
  • From Sunday noon to Tuesday 6PM (after work) will be about 54 hours. I think it says 36 to 72 hours for fermentation. Thoughts on this? Should I stop at 48 hours?
I still have about 1 Kg of pork left which is cubed, vacuum sealed and in the freezer. I was going to make a small batch of brats but I ran out of weekend.

Any comments/questions/suggestions/guidance welcome!!.

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Great detailed post. Will bookmark this to follow your results and the answer. I got Kitchen Aid grinder and stuffer attachments for Christmas last year. On my list of fall projects.
The instructions said grind then mix in seasonings, but I think mixing them in (including cure but not fermenting starter) THEN grinding would be easier, better and likely allow for more even mixing. Thoughts?

I’ll do this if (1) I’m making a fresh sausage and (2) all the meat is ground at the same time with the same plate. With the kictenaid grinder/sausage stuffer combo, you can be super lazy and mix spices/grind/stuff all in one pass.

Usually, I do not use this approach though. Especially when adding cure.
I have to mix everything post-grind anyway because I use different plates for different meat classes, and I add water to the ground meat.

Since you have to mix in the starter culture anyway, you won’t be saving much time by doing it this way

Will an air pocket be an issue for this process?

This from Marianski:
"It is important to stuff sausages hard and without air as the resulting air pockets might fill with water or become little holes later. When stuffing fermented and dry products, such moisture pockets will become breeding grounds for bacteria."
Thanks Polish

So, I'm probably at risk of some safety issues with the chub with the air pocket?
Do I have any recourse to rescue that one?

Edit to add:
I could split that one at the bubble, lose an inch or two of product & re-twist tie without the pocket. I'd need to recalibrate my starting weights but I'd be in a better place for food safety.

I think I'll also take the 1 kg of frozen meat and start a second batch one night this week, to:
1. Make room in the freezer (it's pretty full - LOL).
2. Increase probability of having a (safe) deliverable for Thanksgiving.
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If you haven't done this already I use sterilized needle to poke at the bubble and squeeze out the air. uups! my bad! poke bubles in natural casings ok not in Umai ones. i think others have spotted my mistake already. Sorry about that!
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I actually massaged it to condense things and re-twist tied the end afterwards. Since I had about another batch of pork shoulder left that's in the freezer I think I'll pull that out tonight and run another batch just to be sure (and clear the fridge).
Thanks Al

Even the UMAI bag can take a pin prick to release the air? I was a little apprehensive about that due to the drying that will be taking place, but that will be in the fridge with these so i guess it'll be alright.

I hope I'm good after the re-orienting of the meat in the chub, but I'll look again tonight.

Really looking forward to seeing how this experiment goes.

First batch of Sopressata
Last night I took a look and they were a nice deep red color. That was 54 hours of fermentation (Sun noon - Tues 6PM). So they're now in the fridge.

Second batch
I had another 1200 g. of pork shoulder cubed up and vacuum sealed in the freezer. I quickly ground it up and put up a second batch to ferment. I still had a couple of small air pockets, but much smaller. I pierced the bag with a sterile pin & they went away. - I need stuffing practice.

Gear Note
The Kitchen Aid grinder did a great job with the meat mostly frozen.

However, the grinding plates are limited so an expansion set from Amazon will be on the way soon, 5/16", 1/2" & 5/8".

I'm itching to make salami, pepperoni & Spanish chorizo, but we have just one fridge so I'll have to be patient.

Tried to add pix to the original post, but they don't seem to have worked. I'll continue to work on that.
Your using a fermentation agent with the UMAi... Right
Also dont sweat any humidity with the UMAi (not needed) Your temp looks good though. Try not to poke the UMAi bag.
Yes, following the instructions to the letter.
I got the artisan meat kit with cure #2, dextrose, and bacto ferm, along with the bags and zip ties.

I am busy this weekend, but am looking forward to making some smoked sausage next week. I have lots of cute #1...

Checked the weights of the sopressata in the UMAI bags on Sunday - about 2 weeks in.
Weights are down to about 70% of original.

Remember I did 2 batches:
1. During the inaugural weekend, but I had some air pockets.
2. With my air pocket questions answered - I did a second batch (had 1200 g. or cubed pork left that went into the freezer).

Batch 1
Things are looking a little funky for batch 1.
The smaller chub has broken away from the bag, and isn't as deep red as desired.
The longer one looks a little better, but still not super red, is pulling away, etc.

I'm not going to toss them yet, since they're not stinking up the fridge. But I believe those will be lost to the education process.
It's 2 dollars work of pork (99cts/lb), and probably 3 bucks worth of UMAI supplies - a small price to pay for some serious education and food borne illness avoidance.

Batch 2
These are looking strong. Strong red color, CLOSELY adhering to the bag including wrinkles (making it look like a casing on a professional salumi product). Confidence is high these will yield good results.

Italian Sausage
All but 1 9 oz. package are gone. They were good and I'm looking forward to having a supply on hand at all times.

Picture Questions
I wish I could solve my image issues - I've searched around but haven't found the secret yet. If someone with the magic spell PM me a link, I'd appreciate it.

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