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Summer Sausage Prep - Day 1 - 30 pics Q-View

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by princess, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Greetings, everyone.

    The Q-View below is VERY basic.  If you have never ground sausage before, I want you to know just how easy it really is.  Do your prep work diligently, make sure you run a clean kitchen, have the right equipment and follow the directions. :) If you have ground your own sausage before, I just want you to know how much I love my set-up. I had some real fun with my new grinder today.

    There are also plenty of "scale shots" to show just how much is lost in trimming and de-boning.

    Today, Monday September 6, 2010 I am starting my first fermented sausage project. Rytek Kutas's Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing, 4th Edition: Cervelat Summer Sausage, pg 359. All I did today was hack my meat into grinder sized pieces, pop it into my grinder and mix it with seasonings, fermenter and cure. The pictures below are a step-by-step for that piece.  On Friday, September 10, 2010, I will be stuffing it into cellulose casings, hanging it to dry for a few hours, smoking it and cooling it off. I plan to post another "Q-view Heavy" step-by-step of each of those processes as well.

    I hope to eventually take the whole project and make it into one big post. If the moderators feel I am taking up too much time/room on the forum, they can delete these off (I won't be offended!) but I am hoping someone will find them Wiki-worthy or something.



    EDIT: The Day 2 post can be found here:



    It's not really fair to say I started this project today. I really started it about four days ago when I hauled a bunch of meat out of my freezer and into the fridge to thaw.  I also had to hunt down some Beef Hearts (see my post: Have a Heart?) and find a pretty Pork Shoulder. I keep a few bleach-scrubbed busboy style tubs around just for the purposes of meat handling. 

    My husband was sweet enough to let me re-arrange the fridge to make room for massive amounts of thawing meat.


    It's heavier than it looks. :)  I hauled the whole thing down to the basement. I have a mini-kitchen set up down there where it is nice and cool.  My sausage stuffer is bolted to my extra countertop, I have a big utility sink with a sprayer attachment and there is also a nice loud stereo to keep me company. Crank it! I'm not coming back up for at least an hour!


    The grinder, scale & measuring cups will all be used later. For now, I have a nice sharp butcher's knife and a freshly bleached cutting board to make me happy. Chopped meat will go into a new cleaned tub (off the picture, to left of the board.)  Any bacteria that might have landed in Tub One as the meat was thawing should not go into my fresh meat. Always thaw in the fridge. The uncontrolled temperature of countertop thawing is just too big of a risk in a smoked meat/fermented meat project.

    First up on the block: Two beef hearts. Nicely cleaned, they just need to be chopped into grinder sized bits.


    The bigger heart got chopped first. After trimming the hard fat and stringy bits, it weighed in at exactly 2.5 lb.


    Heart two was a little smaller, post chop came in light at about 2 lb.


    They went into the tub and I grabbed my first beef roast. I had thawed three different chunks of beef from the Whole Cow I bought a few weeks back. I wanted a variety of flavor, but was determined to keep the quality high. What is the point of making sausage if you can't control what goes in it? :)  Pre-chop we are looking at about 2.75 lb.


    Look at that pretty little roast, unwrapped and rinsed.


    Chunked up and trimmed, we lost some weight, about .25, or four ounces.


    Beef roasts two and three were also very nicely sized. I used a Heel of Round and a Sirloin Tip.  I get a tremendous deal on price when I buy Whole Cow, so I don't mind using quality flavorful cuts here. Besides, as you will see, they are so pretty. Side by side, still wrapped up.


    Unwrapped and rinsed off. I discovered them to still be very cold, in fact the centers were still icy when I started chopping. That's just about perfect for an unthaw.


    There is really nothing to trim on that Heel of Round. I want that fat in my sausage. About 3.25 lb here.


    Same thing goes on the Sirloin. 2.75 of good marbling will all make it into the grinder.


    At this point, the tub is full of great looking beef. 


    I haul out the Pork Shoulder next.  I got a pretty fantastic deal on it, fresh from the meat processor. Pig was slaughtered Friday morning, I picked it up Friday afternoon. It doesn't get much fresher than this. As you can see, she is coming in at just a hair under 7-and-a-quarter. This was the most expensive cut of meat I had to pay for.


    I got it out of the package and realized the roast still had the shoulder blade in it. I needed to preserve as much meat as I possibly could, as I needed right about seven pounds. I had also never deboned a shoulder before. Oops!! Time to learn and fast. I started by hacking it into two halves, one with a bone and one without.


    I chopped the boneless half right away to get it off the board. The marbling was so nice here. Pork fat makes a sausage taste good, you know!


    I wrangled that bone as best I could, hacking bits off and tossing them into the tub, must have done pretty good with it, because by the time I was done with it, it was a little less than three quarter pound. So, in the long run, I still have about 7 lb of pork and pork fat. Sweet.



    I have a tub of almost exactly 20 lb of meat here. I will be making up the difference for my 25lb recipe with the addition of 5 lb of ground chuck from the same cow who gave us those three lovely roasts.


    The tub went into my stand-up freezer at this point. I want ice crystals on it, if I can. Cold meat is much easier to grind. Besides, I still had plenty to do.  I needed to clean my work area and get the grinder down and set up.  I also needed to mix up a giant bowl of seasonings, fermenter & cure. I scrubbed out the Thawing Tub with bleach to use to hold the ground, wiped down all the countertops and got the cutting board and knife into the wash.

    The only other ingredients in my sausage - Starting in the upper left hand corner and working clockwise: Fermento, Powdered Dextrose, Insta Cure #1, Dry Mustard, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Coriander & Sea Salt. 

    Never use Iodized salt in sausage making. Always use Sea or Kosher.


    If using Pepper, it really pays flavor wise to use fresh ground. This recipe calls for 2.5 TB of pepper. I have no time or patience to grind that much pepper, so I use a mortar and pestle instead.


    Crunch-crunch-crunch. This smells so good, I wish I could tell you. You'd never use dry ground pepper again.


    If you have never used Insta Cure #1 before, you might not realize, it REALLY is pink!  The color is artificial and is to help ensure that it does not get used accidentally as regular "salt" in your kitchen. It is toxic in high amounts.


    I prefer to weigh cure, rather than measure it, just to be safe, I need exactly one ounce to cure 25lb.


    The seasonings, all mixed up. There is a TON of Fermento in here, and the powder mix is coming in at around four cups.


    Once that was all done, I went back upstairs and got the meat out of the freezer. I also grabbed a bowl to grind into, a bowl of ice to set that bowl in, and the grinder's metal parts. I keep my grinder's metal parts in the freezer when they are not in use. You can actually see the frost on the grinder in the picture below.


    I got the grinder all set up. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. This was my first run with the new grinder, having killed my old hand-me-down Oster earlier this summer. I used the big die for this initial grind. It will all get re-ground using a smaller die on Friday before going into the stuffer.


    The new grinder worked like a dream. I could not get meat into the hopper fast enough. Due to the low tube height, I could not grind directly into my secondary tub, so I ground into the two low bowls you see above, and then as they filled, stopped to empty them and continue.  It is worth noting that the big buttons on the side of the grinder can be operated with an elbow for on-and-off without contamination. :)  Maybe next time, I will grind off the counter and into the tub on a chair or something.


    25 lb of ground meat is a LOT in a tub. I don't think I could safely do a 50 lb batch. I just don't have the cooler or freezer space for it.


    You can really tell that I used the wide die if you look at it. Thick ropes of ground up meat.

    I poured the seasoning mix on top and begged my husband to come and mix for me. My hands just aren't big enough to get everything incorporated and I wanted to get to cleaning and bleaching everything.  He was kind enough to do so.  He did need a few splashes of ice water to get it all good and mixed in, probably less than a half a cup.


    Once it was all mixed in, we tamped it down to eliminate air-pockets, covered it with a few thick layers of plastic wrap pressed onto the surface and slid it back into the fridge. It will stay there until Friday.

    On Friday, I will re-grind the meat, cram it into my stuffer, and stuff the cellulose casings. The casings will get hung to dry, get smoked and hopefully will taste awesome! Wish me luck!!


    Last edited: Sep 14, 2010
  2. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    I should also mention a huge thanks to my husband for putting up with me doing this today, on our Labor Day Off. He spent all day trying to work while wrangling our son while I played with my new grinder. He is now napping while I feed the Toddler some early dinner. :)  I am a lucky girl.
    scarbelly likes this.
  3. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great Thread Princess,

    I am / will be following your progress with great interest.  I am hoping to do a my first Sausage project soon.  I too will be enlisting the help of my spouse.  [​IMG]
  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Outstanding Princess!

    You're doing one Heckuvajob!!!

    This will help a lot of people, including me!

    Here---have a thumbs up for your rating box,[​IMG]

  5. That is great Princess, I can't wait to see the end product.

    I will be giving this a shot.
  6. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    I am fortunate that my Wonderful Husband tolerates my Meat Hobby. Better yet, I have a dear friend who is nearly as obsessed as I am. He will be the one helping me on Friday. Anything over 10lb is asking for a headache if you are flying solo, in my humble opinion.  What kind of sausage are you thinking about doing? Fresh? Smoked? Cured?
  7. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Awww.. .thanks, Bearcarver!! :) I was hoping you'd see this!  :D 

    I was all worried that it was too much info, but I hope people who are new can get something out of it. Also? YAY MY NEW GRINDER!!  I cannot even begin to tel you how *wowed*  I was at the ease in use. Really did make all the difference. When I bought it, I also ordered two extra cutting blades (as it did not raise the shipping cost any) to tuck away for future use. That was part of the problem with my old Oster... Impossible to find new blades for it.

    Do you think it would be useful to folks if I did a post on the "Care and Feeding" of an electric grinder? I will be ripping it up again on Friday, so it's no big deal to take a few extra pictures...

    Bearcarver likes this.
  8. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    I'm glad you enjoyed it!! I have found that it helps to just jump in and keep your head up. Let me know if I can offer my $.02 on your future projects?

  9. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    Absolutely---Probably even help me!

    When I got mine (a little before you got yours), I looked all over for something like that, because the papers that come with them are practically useless!

    I'm sure anything you can put out on breaking down, cleaning, and assembly would go a long way in helping many! Maybe some old grinding veterans would even add a few tips we don't know too.

    Thanks Princess,

  10. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Great thread

    I am looking forward to seeing your Friday post 

    Just hit the thumbs up button for ya too  
  11. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Aloha Princess,

    For the first Sausage project we are thinking of doing a fresh breakfast type sausage.  I'm thinking 5 lbs or so, just to get familiar with the equipment and the process.  A few weeks ago we mixed up a batch of breakfast patties with store ground pork.  They came out pretty good.  Howevewer, prepping, grinding, mixing spices, and stuffing casings are a different story. 

    Any information you can do on care and feeding of a meat grinder and perhaps a stuffer too will be well received.

    Take Care...
  12. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member


       I second all the above praise. Great job so far on this post!!!  Can't wait for Friday's update. I too want to see the post about use and care of your (*our, since I will soon have the same one) grinder. All awesome stuff!!


  13. red

    red Newbie

    Wow! This is a great post. Thank you for sharing.

    Like others have said, I can't wait to see the finished product.

  14. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    For breakfast sausage, I have used both collagen and natural casings, both with good success. Collagen cases are just a little easier on the skinny sausages, in my humble opinion, and it doesn't matter that they are straight and not curved. (Collagen brats look weird because they do not curve) I find skinny sheep casings too hard to properly clean without damaging them and really kind of expensive.

    I like these:


    There are three strands in the pack, each can do 10 lb. You can break a strand in half, and you'd have about enough to do your 5 lb without an issue. Just keep in mind they don't stay twisted! I like to twist and snip, then let them air dry a few minutes to get sticky enough to stay. If you look at store-bought breakfast links, you will see the ends are not twisted there either.


    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  15. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for all the awesome compliments! Friday cannot come soon enough. Me (and the sterilized saran-wrapped-camera) will be ready for more Q!!
  16. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    Princess, your taking me that much closer to start sausage making, I'm just barely out of curing school. I need to get Rytek Kutas's book and read up on that. Thanks for the bump. [​IMG]
  17. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great informative post Princess, I'll be looking forward to Fridays addition.

  18. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Good job on the prep............... When cutting up a butt and getting to the bone I find switching to a sharp filet knife makes it a lot easier to get around that bone. I also wanted to grind directly into the tub but I wound up buying a aluminum tray and grind onto the tray and just transfer it into the bin.


    time to get busy
  19. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    LOL... I thought about going back up to the kitchen to get my filet blade, but I decided I was too lazy and the my Trusty Wusty would be just fine.

    You know, the aluminum pan, that's not a bad plan. I have to re-grind this morning through the tiny die before packing the stuffer. I have a TON of disposable aluminum trays that I got on clearance at GFS (or Sam's Club, don't recall) and keep them wrapped in plastic downstairs. They're kinds flimsy, but I'm just using them to hold grind, that just might work... Thanks for the tip!!
  20. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Have yoou ever thought of placing the tub you are grinding into in the kitchen sink and setting the grinder at the edge?  That is what we do, it gives you all kind of room between the grinder and the tub...