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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!