Newbie Question On Sausage Making......

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
Dec 30, 2009
Auburn Al
OK..This is problaby gonna sound like a stupid question but here it goes..I am looking into starting to make my own sausage and I have been reading a few web sites. My main quesion is on the nitrates that one puts into the meat before grinding.

The one site told me I did NOT need it if I was making "fresh" sausage. And went on to say I DID need it if I was going to smoke it etc...

Ok the stupid question is, what hell is "fresh" sausage as he refers to it? I would think its ALL fresh at the time I make it and why cant I put in the nitrate regardless if I smoke it, or freeze it?

One more question since u are reading, when one makes a large sausage, how do you make the links like I see at the store. Im looking into mostly italian sausage and want the ends like the johnsonville's I see at the store. Is this possible? or do I need to tie it and cut at each link??

See told ya I was a newbie at the sausage thing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First off i want to thank you for your service, from a father who has 4 kids in the US ARMY.


There is no such thing here as a stupid question


Fresh sausage is like what you buy in the store (johnsonville like) links or pattys. Those type you put right on a hot grill or in a pan. High heat above 250*

Cure is added to any type of sausage where you will be putting in a smoke enviroment where the temps start low between 80* and 150* This cure keeps the nasties (bacteria and such) from forming in the low temp meat.

Hope this helps some
Fresh sausage is anything that will be cooked to temp within 4 hours.  You can make polish or Andouille sausage and either keep it refrigerated or throw it on the smoker and be perfectly safe without nitrites.  You just need to treat it like ground meat. The nitrites will improve the color and maybe the taste a bit if making fresh sausage but are not required.
Thank you sir....

So will it hurt to put the cure in the sausage no matter how I will be cooking it? IE..If i freeze it I might pan fry OR smoke it at a later date........SO willit hurt to add it anyway/>

AND about the end and tying them up???

It doesn't hurt to put cure 1 or nitrites in the sausage anyway even if you treat it like fresh.  It just won't do much to change the flavor profile without a day or two of refrigerator time before cooking.

I am not sure what you are looking for on the ends.  When I make sausage I pack just a bit loose and twist one sausage toward me and the next sausage away from me.  This makes your links, it takes a bit of practice but is easy and very doable for small amounts (under 100 lbs)  There are many members here that have advanced techniques for twisting and making links but just starting out keep it simple.  Once you dry and smoke the meat and casings will set so they don't untwist. 

Generally we don't use string or clamps on standard sized links.  When making large fermented sausages you need to tie them up hang them for long periods of time.

Good luck, let us know how it goes


Just so you know,  as previously mentioned, don't use Cure 2  (Nitrates) if you intend to fry or cook at very high temps like bacon.

Start with a knot in the end of the casing and leave enough loose casing on the other end to tie a knot when you get finished linking.
ok..So we have Nitrites #1 and  Nitrates #2??

In a nutshell, its #1 or NOTHING  for fresh sausage that I plan on cooking within the 4 hr window OR at low temps.....pan fry, smoker, freezer etc..


#2 for pretty much everything else..Air cured  hams etc..........

IS that right lol........
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They are not interchangeable,  you need to follow approved and tested recipes when using cures.   THIS IS IMPORTANT  Cure #2 (combination of nitrites and nitrates) is used for sausages, hams that will be cured for weeks or months at cool, not necessarily cold temps.   The vast majority of what you will be doing as a neophyte sausage maker/smoker will be with a cure #1 recipe. 

The easiest sausage to make is a fresh breakfast sausage like ShooterRick's Sage Breakfast Sausage.  Once you have done that and are looking at stuffing a casing you may try one of the many different recipes on the board for Andouille.  FPNMF and I have both posted recipes recently that we feel are easy to make and delicious.

You asked about fresh sausage and we discussed whether or not you need a cure. 

You really need to familiarize yourself with the different cures and their uses to ensure a safe and tasty product.  There are many experience posters on this board that enjoy helping people new to the hobby so don't think twice about asking for advice.
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Let me clear this up a bit.

We normally smoke sausages between 100 and 120 degree temps for 6 to 8 hours to give it a good smokey flavor.   At these temps and times you need Cure 1 to prevent the meat from spoiling and bacteria building up to unsafe levels  Fresh sausage is brought up to 165 degree internal temp within 4 hours.    
I read some of the links and I have a lil better understanding. #1 is a fast cure whereas #2 is a slow cure. Soo....

I dont see me having many uses for #2 so its best I stay with the #1 cure and like you said follow recipes to the T.

Mostly I will be diving into the bkfast sausage and the Italian spicey type sausage.  Some will be smoked and some will be made into patties and fried. Its  a lil confusing but I plan doing more research/reading before I get too deep.
Heh I had the same problem with fresh vs cured...

The Kutas book is a wealth of info on the cures and casings.

What are you going to use to grind / stuff? I'm a week or so out of starting my first batch. Delays due to needing to order things online, and my new BBQ is arriving this week which I will need to focus on.

Otherwise send me a PM as you get going we can bounce noobie sausage maker ideas / discoveries off each other.
Thats right MR500. 

Normally only experienced sausage makers with curing rooms and slow smokers will have a need for Cure#2.  I definetly suggest you get familiar with the easy stuff first and then as your knowledge and experience grows the types of sausage you will want to try will grow.  I have been doing this a little while now and have yet to try my first fermented sausage.  I don't have the facilities to do it yet, I need to retrofit a refrigerator to get the proper temperature and humidity control but it's on the list

Simply stated  Nitrates to Nitrites to Nitrous Oxide   The nitrous oxide is the active ingredient in cures.  Cure#2 provides a "slow release" source of nitrites
Oh yeah trust me. I will be goin very slow at first. I mean reallllee slow. Will prolly start under the 5# mark and work up from there. All I really plan on making is some sausage to fry up and maybe some to smoke up on my WSM. I have got the smokin meat down, now on to something else new. Sausage making. lol

Now out to finish my research and look at cures.  Is it cheaper to buy them online?
Tenderquick and some others are usually available in most supermarkets.  Cures 1 and 2 normally have to be purchased on line or from your local butcher.  Butcher and Packer, and are two sources for cures and casings that I am familiar with and use.

If you are just starting out I would stay with fresh. Breakfast, bratwurst and Italian are typically fresh sausages. They can be vac sealed and frozen for quite a while. Get the hang of grinding and stuffing before moving into more advanced territory. There are a bunch of threads on here about sausage making. Search Italian sausage or whatever kind you want to make. Then ask more questions and you'll be a master in no time.

BTW. Thanks for your service. I really like being free.
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Yeah small is the name of the game to start like I said. After you stuff the sausage I take you let them dry for a bit before moving onto the food saver vac? Is there typically a time frame or is it on a case by case basis?

I will deff do the search thing. Ive been at it for past few hours!!

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