How to Make Homemade Summer Sausage - Recipe
How To Make Homemade Summer Sausage
Learn how to make homemade summer sausage with Walton's and Meatgistics. Read the guide, and then post your questions or comments below.
What Is Summer Sausage?
Summer Sausage is a semi-dried sausage that is typically stuffed into a larger diameter casing, like fibrous sausage casings. Most summer sausage has a low pH, which gives it that familiar tangy flavor. pH values can range from 4.5 to 5.2, and this also helps aid in shelf-stability. Besides pH, water activity can also help determine whether a product is truly shelf-stable or not, which means in summer sausage we need to bind water in the meat snacks and make it unavailable for microbial growth. Water activity is not something that can be measured by a home meat processor, but we still setup our process and thermal processing to attempt to achieve a lower water activity. Summer Sausage can be made using a variety of meats and anything like wild game or venison, beef, pork, poultry, or a combination of meats. Walton’s recommends using a lean to fat ratio of at least 80/20, and many times a 30% fat ratio, with a maximum of 40% fat. Fat is where most of your flavor comes from so changing your lean to fat ratio will change the overal taste and mouth feel of your product.
25 lb 80/20 beef trim (or 20 lb wild game and 5 lb pork fat)
1 package Excalibur Summer Sausage Seasoning
1oz Sure Cure (packet included with seasoning)
6oz Sure Gel Meat Binder
4oz Encapsulated Citric Acid
2 to 3 lb High Temperature Cheese
2.4 in x 12 in Mahogany Fibrous Sausage Casings
2 Quarts Ice Cold Water
Grind the meat twice. The first grind can be done using a 3/8 in (10mm) grinder plate, and then the second grind should use a 1/8 in (3mm) grinder plate. A sharp grinder knife and plate are key to help you create a better meat snack by helping retain better particle definition, color, and help prevent any smearing of the meat. If you cannot easily distinguish the lean from the fat when grinding, then it may be time for a new grinder plate and knife.
A meat mixer is your best option for meat mixing when making summer sausage. We need to not only thoroughly mix the seasoning, spices, and additives into the meat, but we also need to achieve a good protein extraction. Protein extraction is visibly noticeable when the meat starts to get really sticky. What this does is allow the proteins in the meat to bind with water and fat giving your sausage a better consistency and mouth-feel when eating, plus it helps keep it from being crumbly in the final product. Hand mixing is possible, but difficult to achieve the same result as using an actual meat mixer. For the mixing time, we need to mix for a total of around 8 minutes. During the mixing process, reverse the direction of mixing every 1 minute. As soon as you start mixing, you can add all the ingredients except Encapsulated Citric Acid and High Temp Cheese. Those 2 ingredients can be added in the last 45 to 60 seconds, or just long enough to evenly disperse. Over mixing Encapsulated Citric Acid or High Temp Cheese can lead to breaking the encapsulate or smearing the cheese.
Avoid creating air pockets when you load your sausage stuffer and begin stuffing until the casings are full with a smooth exterior. Remember to leave a little extra on the ends of the fibrous casings so you can twist tight and clip them tightly closed with a pair of hog ring pliers.
Either hang on smoke sticks or lay on racks in your smokehouse or oven. Just be sure to leave a slight gap between the snack sticks. A simple cooking schedule you can follow is here:
125F for 1 hour
140F for 1 hour
155F for 2 hours
175F until internal meat temp of 160F
To help set the casing to the meat and also prevent wrinkling we need to shower the summer sausage when they are done cooking or put them in an ice water bath. It should only take around 10 to 15 minutes to get the temperature to drop down. Then, we’ll let them set out for about 1 hour at room temperature before moving to the refrigerator/freezer. After we are totally done with the cooling process, then we will package in vacuum pouches for longer term storage.
It’s easy to get started on making a basic version of summer sausage, but practice does make perfect! Walton’s has Everything but the Meat to make fantastic tasting and looking summer sausage. Plus, we have tons of knowledge and assistance if you need it for perfecting your own process. If you have any questions or need help in your process, please share your questions or comments below.
Place a small pan of water in the bottom of smokehouse during entire cooking cycle to help increase humidity
If your smoker, smokehouse, dehydrator, or oven cannot reach temperatures as low as 125F, just start as low as possible and slowly increase the temperature over time