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 overall taste and mouthfeel of your product.
25 lb 80/20 beef trim (or 20 lb wild game and 5 lb pork fat or beef fat, though beef fat will have different texture and taste)
1 package Excalibur Summer Sausage Seasoning
1oz Sure Cure (packet included with seasoning)
6oz Sure Gel Meat Binder
4oz Encapsulated Citric Acid1
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 Summer Sausages. 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
1. If you do not use a cure accelerator like Encapsulated Citric Acid or Smoked Meat Stabilizer, then after it has been stuffed into its casing hold in a refrigerator for approximately 12 hours or overnight (Return to text)
frank last edited by
hi when do I add smoke and for how long???
@frank Add smoke once you get the temperature up to 140° and then leave it on for at least 2 hours. I like to just leave the smoke pan in there until the end. Smoke will only adhere to the meat in certain temperature and humidity ranges so there is only a very small chance of adding too much smoke.
I hope that helped, let us know if you need anything else and post some pictures of how it turned out!
SierraPete last edited by
So I am going to make a batch of snack sticks and summer sausage . I don’t have a regular smoker. I only have a wood pellet grill/smoker to smoke the product on. It only has a smoke setting usually runs around 160 and then the next setting is 225. I know both of your recipients state to start low and stage up. Do you think starting on smoke and then going up to 225 to finish would be ok? Or should I partially open the door to regulate the temp for the first few hours?
@SierraPete If your smoker starts at 160° I would start at that temp for 2 hours and then bump it up to the 225°. You will want to monitor that closely though as it is going to be fast.
The one thing you need to make sure of is if you are using encapsulated citric acid you need to keep the internal temp of the snack sticks or summer sausage between 135 and 160° for at least 1 hour to allow the citric acid to work.
SierraPete last edited by
@Jonathon Good news. I fired up my T pellet grill and messed with it on the smoke setting. I can adjust the P-setting which controls the off time of the auger. I got it to run at 125 and should still have enough adjustment with the p setting to bump up the temp prior to hitting 225 setting (if needed). I am using encapsulated citric acid so thanks for the advice. I didn’t know that.
@SierraPete Awesome, when they are done let us know how they are and post some pics!
Can I use smoke meat stabilizer instead of eca and skip the 30hrs in the frig.
I’m going to use some smoke on them (venison) in my electric smoker.
@tarp Yes, you can use the Smoked Meat Stabilizer instead of the Encapsulated Citric Acid as a cure accelerator. This will allow you to go directly from stuffing to the smoking process. One difference between Smoked Meat Stabilizer and Encapsulated Citric Acid is that Smoked Meat Stabilizer will not drop the pH and impart the tangy flavor that is associated with Encapsulated Citric Acid. Let me know if you have any other questions!
HI: Thanks I’ve never used it but will give it a try as soon as my product arrives
I see its on the way
@tarp Glad to help! If you take pictures make sure you post them.
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In2b8u last edited by
OK so ballpark, If I follow the bump up temp schedule above roughly how long at 175 to reach the internal temp? Thank you in advance
@in2b8u That’s a tough one as a lot of factors come into play such as, what sized casing you are using, what type of smoker you are using, outside temp and humidity, but a good ballpark guess would be something around 7-9 hours. You can help yourself cut that down a little if you add moisture to your smoker somehow, a pan of water at the bottom of the smoker will add some humidity, not much but some is better than none, and that will speed the cooking process along!
Sternh8gen last edited by
How many ounces of carrot fiber rather than sure gel is recommended for a summer sausage recipe?
@sternh8gen If you are making 25 lb then I would recommend 4 oz of carrot fiber and for the Sure Gel use 6 oz per 25 lb batch. We have a Conversion Chart to show you how much by both weight and volume to use for 1 and 5 lb batches. We also have the same for seasoning and cures!
Chance last edited by
So you said you used 50/50 beef and pork. Does that mean you went 10 lbs beef lean and 10 lbs pork lean then 5 lbs fatback?
@Chance Sorry no. If you can’t get your hands on pork fat then instead of pork fat use 50% pork (butts are my favorite) and 50% of whatever lean wild game you are making as your entire meat block.
So, I followed the directions to what I thought were a ‘T’, ingredients ( I did sub out for carrot fiber vs the Sure Gel), temperature schedule, the whole thing. Using 80% venison, 20% pork fat a couple of things happened. First, There was a lot of fat rendering, and that led to some loss of volume. I was kind of surprised, the sausage was not adhering to the casing. Second, was the water intrusion during the ice bath. I actually used bagged ice because I had an issue the last time when I made meat sticks, they were waterlogged. So, I put everything in an ice cube bath (no water), for 10 minutes or so, and when it was said and done, I had what I could only call a substantial amount of water inside the casing. The water would have come from the ice melting of course. I hung the sausages from a dowel in my refrigerator for a few days, hoping they would dry out some. I think they have that this point, and the casing seems to have shrunk now, but I am not sure if the sausage has adhered now. Overall the taste is good, consistency is about right, the ECA is a little over powering to me, I would skip that and just let them rest overnight.
Next ice bath gets some sort of a bag or something in between the product and the ice. Waterlogged twice now and mildly infuriated.
Is losing all that fat normal? My final casings looked nothing like the pictures in the recipe.
@ihang10 You are going to experience some product loss for sure when smoking summer sausage but what you are describing still sounds more than what it should be. Does it look like the bottom picture or was there a lot more loss than that?
You shouldn’t be having that much trouble with water getting in between the casing and the meat, it should be adhering better than that. Just to be clear you are actually using pork fat right? You said that and if you are then you are fine but if you are using pork butt than that is too low of an amount.
Also, protein extraction is playing a part in here I’d think. That will help with both the fat rendering out and help it adhere to the casing better. If you have a vac machine you might also want to consider pulling the sausage out of the smoker around 130-140°, vac packing it and then finishing it up in water that is just about 170°. For more information check out this post https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/683/summer-sausage-nightmare
Also, there is some more information that would be worth reading here https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/1101/casing-question
The final was close to the picture you attached.
I don’t have a close up.
The final was close to the picture you attached.
I don’t have a close up.
And yes, I was using pork fat as my 20%. Forgot to add that info earlier.
@ihang10 So then I would say that protein extraction is probably what is causing your issue. The fat renders out of the product and gets trapped between the outside of the sausage and the inside of the casing. Then when the product cools the fat congeals and you can’t get it to adhere. Mixing for a few more minutes will probably help resolve your issue. The other thing is when do you add your fat? Sometimes if you just mix in your fat with your lean the lean can coat the fat chunks but never really bind with it, so I would suggest you add it during the second grind.
justinslater83 last edited by
@Jonathon How would you suggest to mix in fat with pre packaged ground venison? We butcher and prepack ground venison into 1 lb packages. Should we regrind the venison with the fat using a smaller diameter plate? or grind the fat separate and mix using a mixer? I assume the better option would also be true for snack sticks.
@justinslater83 I think that would depend on how it was ground previously. If you already went through 2 grinds and the last one was a 1/8 plate then I would grind the fat (depending on what it looks like) through a 3/8 plate and then mix it in with the meat. If you have only ground it through a 3/16 plate or 3/8 then I would grind it again. Hope that helped?
justinslater83 last edited by
@Jonathon We only grind the venison once through a 3/8" plate - it’s completely lean. I think I will grind it again through the 1/8" plate, grind pork butt through the 3/8" plate and mix a 50/50 ratio using the meat mixer.
@justinslater83 That sounds like a good plan to me but if you dont want to grind twice the fat will be fine going through the 1/8 plate with the deer. The only time I REALLY separate fat from lean and grind the fat through a 3/8 is when the partical definition is important to me, which is rare.
applejack last edited by
I have used an electric smoker for the past 15 years for brisket, ribs, pork butt , fish, and veggies.
This last week I made my first ever batch of summer sausage following the recipe and and supplies from Walton’s. This batch was 20 pounds when finished. Fantastic appearance and taste, I could not be more pleased.
Next up is a 25 pound batch of bulk breakfast sausage to go into 2 pound bags.
akdave last edited by
@Jonathon I have been making 100-150 lbs of summer sasuage a year and have found that if I course grind the very cold meat first, put it back in the freezer to chill while I put my 1/8" plate in my grinder and grind the cold beef fat 1/8" and then thoroughly mix the fat and meat together then grinding them 1/8 I get better mixing and protein extraction. I then thoroughly mix in all the other ingredients and the Stuff.
@akdave 100% correct. If you have the time between grinds you will benefit from putting it back in the freezer first. There are two temp ranges that protein extraction will occur and I am going to get this somewhat wrong, one is around frozen meat to 40 something degrees and the other is above 65 degrees. Obviously above 65 degrees is useless to us but I would think (again, dont know this and cant prove it ) the closer you are to 30 degrees than 45 the better protein extraction it will provide.
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The key to every great meal (no matter how simple) is in the preparation!