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 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 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
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!
@Joepingel That would be correct, the 22mm tube is too big for the 30mm casing, it will fit the 32mm collagen but not the 30. You can check out a chart that shows you what tube to use with what casings (https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/187/what-size-stuffing-tube-to-use-sausage-casing-size-chart) that Austin made a few years ago. Please let me know if you saw incorrect information somewhere on either meatgistics.com or waltonsinc.com and I will get that fixed.
Thanks Jonathon. I pan fried the sausage in a cast iron skillet (my “go to” for the stove) on low heat actually. I could not believe there was no moisture in that skillet. The sausage really was great (Holly), beautifully brown. I was very surprised at no rendered fat, but it is very pleasant to experience a sausage patty that is not greasy. I thought I did something wrong lol.
Yeah, goat is lean. I will be going the route of adding pork fat, or mixing in some ground pork. I will have to read up on the other options you have suggested as they are new to me. I like to keep my food as “natural” as possible. I do appreciate the assist here.
@homesteader57 When making a fresh sausage like breakfast sausage adding water isn’t necessary and you’d only need to do it to help mix in the seasonings and additives. I personally don’t add water to breakfast sausage or bratwursts. Did you stuff this into a casing or did you make loose breakfast sausage and cook it up in a pan? Either way, I’ve never heard of no fat rendering out when cooking a breakfast sausage, can you give me a little more information on how you cooked it? In a pan over high heat I am assuming, was it cooked at the highest heat? Cast Iron or something else?
I am going to be very interested to see what happens when you make Brats out of the goats. I’ve never done it but I am pretty sure goat is low in fat content. For brats you want your fat content to be around 75/25 so you will have to add some pork fat if you can. If you don’t want to add pork fat then you can try what I have been doing with lower fat meats. When I have made Chicken Brats I have been using Cold Phosphate to increase the water holding capacity of the meat. I’d also recommend you use a binder like Sure Gel or Super Bind or a moisture retender like Carrot Fiber. Using both of those seems to be the best bet to get a nice juicy product out of a lower fat meat.
@scott-williams First, I’d recommend you use a binder like Sure Gel or Super Bind or a moisture retender like Carrot Fiber. This is always the first thing I recommend when someone has an issue with the texture of their sausage.
Your fat content is correct and it sounds like you used the correct amount of seasoning. 190° is a little higher than I would recommend, but we have all been there when it’s just taking too long so you dump it a little more than you really should! I don’t think that is the issue but check out this post titled Summer Sausage Nightmare specifically @Parksider’s response to finishing it up in water. It’s a good tip and I am going to be doing some tests on it here to verify a few things.
What I think probably caused your issue was the mixing in some way. When adding pork fat to your venison I think the best time to add it is during the second grind, it’s possible that your fat didn’t really mix in well with the venison, that would explain why it seemed dry even though you had the correct fat content.
It also could have been lack of protein extraction, I looked through your posts and can’t tell if you have a mixer or are mixing by hand? With cured sausages, I always recommend using a meat mixer as getting the right level of protein extraction. I am guessing that you had some fat out where the fat renders and cooks out of the product.
Hope this helps!
I made my first batch of brats last night and was using the 30mm collagen casing, but I could not get it to fit on the 22mm tube. I used instead the 16mm tube. I am just curious about what I was doing wrong. I have the 11lb vertical stuffer.
@papasop Sorry, I didn’t catch that you said by the switch initially.
I see the same thing now. Weird thing is that the Pro Series also says the same thing. If you couldn’t use any of them for more than 5 seconds in reverse, that would be odd, because then nothing would work well with the meat mixers.
I’m getting some questions sent to the manufacturer. I’ll let you know if they can clarify further.
I’ve used both the Pro and Butcher series grinders with the reverse on for more than 5 seconds, and used them to mix a lot of meat, so my initial thought is that it is fine to do on mixing, but maybe just not when the grinder head, auger, plate/knife, etc. is attached. Meat is the “lubricant” for all that when grinding, so in reverse for too long and the meat not being pushed through everything could cause problems.