I've been getting into sausage making again since the weather is favoring it. I find it cumbersome to make sausage in the summer trying to always keep everything cold. Anyway my question is, do you prefer a store bought mix or a homemade recipe? In my research for different summer sausage and snack stick recipes, I have noticed that a lot of people use the store bought premade mix over a recipe from scratch. Is it because of the taste? The cost? The convenience? I myself try to use a recipe that does NOT include the use of a store bought mix. Just curious what everyone else thinks.
It depends, I do both. Here comes a long post about why more options is a good thing.
Most online blog post recipes (of any kind) are a let down so you have to work them into shape yourself... if they can even be tweaked. Many are clearly people who don't know what they are doing and throw everything in but the kitchen sink.
This forum is a far far far better source of info than random blog posts that have pretty pictures and are mainly in it for the clicks and ad revenue their post generates.
Most store bought seasonings are too salty or too bland and often their measurement by volume (teaspoons/tablespoons) doesn't scale up once you get over 5 pounds. As you scale up it gets too salty or too bland due to the slop that occurs when measuring by volume.
When store bought seasoning flavor is good it is actually easier to work it into shape so that it's never too salty or too bland.
You just mix a 3 pound batch and do a small fry test patty before you stuff.
If the test patty doesn't taste horrible and is not salty enough
you mix more seasoning into the meat and repeat the test till its at the point of "could use a little more salt" and thats when you DONT add any more and you stop lol. The flavor profile will change after you cook the sausage so if it tastes good with the test patty, it will taste good once cooked but likely have more flavor and character.
If the test patty is too salty
you mix in some more meat and test, repeat till good.
Then using 5th grade math you calculate how many grams of seasoning you use per pound of sausage meat and write it. Done!
With made at home recipes you do the same testing but you have a handful of other ingredients besides the salt that may be too bland or too strong. Luckily it's harder to get too strong with many common sausage ingredients. Salt is the main one that you can easily get too much with but then you may have to alter your other seasoning amounts.
Lesser used super strong seasonings like Anise, Fennel, Clove, etc. can get really strong with very very very very very small amounts so its always best to add tinny tinny bits when increasing hahhaha.
Expect to do 2-8 iterations on a made at home recipe IF you aren't handed one that is dead on from a super reliable source.
I have yet to get sausage recipe from anyone that is dead on BUT I also don't have very many other sausages I'm interested in making. I'm kind of set.
If a trusted source here ever posts an amazing Mexican Chorizo (not the same as Spanish Chorizo) or a Czech Klobase recipe on here, THEN I'll be jumping all over that recipe for sure. The real Czech Klobase recipe is my white whale lol.
My Store Bought:
LEM's Cured Franks
(hot dog/frank seasoning)
I tried at least 4 different hot dog/frankfurter seasoning recipes and nothing can hold a candle to the LEM's Cured Frank seasoning... once I figured out the by weight measurements of the LEM's.
None of the recipes came close and I gave up trying because I had a clear winner.
LEM's Fresh Brats
For Brats it's the same thing, nothing has beat the LEM's Fresh Brat seasoning... again once I figured out the by weight measurements.
I have eaten brats from many many many places all over the US (Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc, etc.) and in German restaurants overseas (but not in Germany) trying to see what the fuss was about and never found one that impressed me.
Then I made the venison brats with LEM's Fresh Brat seasoning because it came in the LEM 5lb stuffer kit I bought to get started with sausage. WOW!!!! This is stuff beat all other brats I ever tasted by 100 miles!!!!
Owen's German Bologna
I have a buddy who always talked about getting this as a kid but could never find it after leaving our home town.
A member on here on the forum vouched for this seasoning. They are always dead on with their information, food, and suggestions so I was confident they were right... they were!
All I had to do was some standard tinkering to figure out by weight how much seasoning was needed per pound of meat so it wasn't too salty or too bland. This is something you have to do with every store bought seasoning or recipe you find anyhow
My Made at Home Seasonings:
Texas Hotlink/Hot Gut Sausage
I had to take a recipe that was in the ball park work a few iterations to get the flavor I was looking for. This sausage is harder and harder to come by in Texas these days but I used to love them as a kid.
Took about 4 iterations to get it down and that's only because I started with an acceptable base recipe someone posted online somewhere that was not here.
Ground Pastrami Sausage
I do a Ground Pastrami sausage I form into blocks and smoke to slice for sandwich meat instead of doing in sausage casings, but could make cased sausage out of it.
I took a recipe from online that was very close and and tweaked it to get the right flavor. This took about 2 iterations to nail the flavor.
Breakfast Sausage (for patties and ground browned sausage needs)
This is about as basic of a sausage as you can get so its easy to start simple like Salt, Pepper, Garlic, and Sage and then tweak from there.
You basically never make a bad batch and only improve to your tastes as you tinker with it.
You can also mix this up on the fly right before you make it with store bought 80/20 beef or ground pork so the effort and prep are nothing to figure out the perfect breakfast sausage recpie for you.
I do Salt, Pepper, a good amount of Garlic, a lot of Sage, and a nice helping of Red Pepper flakes. I just eyeball it and its great everytime.
Ground Jerky, Italian Caccetorie flavor
This is a combo of LEM's Original Snack Stick seasoning then doctored up with other very specific seasonings and a red wine to give me the amazing tang and flavor I want with this ground meat jerky.
The snack stick seasoning is an amazingly solid base flavor and I had a bunch on hand as a gift given to me so it works to give me the exact flavor I'm looking for. I don't fix what isn't broken haha :D
Anyhow I hope this long post of info helps :)