Ive been making summer sausage for about 2 yrs now I use the fibrous casing and pack it as tight as i can Matter fact had some break so tight Im smoking at low temp 140 then 160 180 till 160 internal temp Im getting alot of shrinkage in the meat Ive use 80/20 85/15 and 90/10 I shower the meat when done with cold water Every think im supose to do according to recipe What is going on The tase great just not pretty looking
chuck Since you have been stuffing them tight and showering them after I would say the two most likely issues would be either low to no humidity in your smoker or not enough protein extraction. To try to combat the humidity issue you can add a water pan to your smoker, this will add some (not a lot but better than nothing) humidity to the smoker and prevent it from drying out. For protein extraction you can do a few things, you could add a binder like Excaliburs Sure Gel or just make absolutely sure you have achieved the correct level of protein extraction when mixing.
A few other things just to think about.
Have the casings soaked for 30 minutes in hot water before stuffing?
Are you using a prepackaged seasoning or a home recipe? If the salt content is off you might have an issue with this.
Are you cooking them too long?
How long are you showering them? I generally find an ice bath is a little easier if your smoker doesn’t have a shower cycle. Evaporation energy from showering will actually cool the product more efficiently than an ice bath will but that’s assuming that your shower cycle is set correctly.
The most likely issue though is either too low humidity or not enough protein extraction.
Anyone else have thoughts?
Is it OK to make summer sausage and bake it in an oven? Also, would you still need the cure? I realize might have a moisture problem and some shrinkage of the casing, but if there is a process for this, what is it? I don’t always have time to mind the smoker.
A smoker and oven in essence are both heaters, so I haven’t noticed a material difference. My method is to begin either cooking method at 130 degrees and increase it by 10 degrees every hour to 160 degrees and leave it until the internal reaches the 140s. In this way I lessen the chance of fat melt. Once in the 140s I increase the temp in 5 degree increments to no more than 175 degrees and remove my sausage or sticks at a minimum of 152 degrees. Extra: If one begins with too much heat at the beginning in an effort to speed things up, they run the risk of creating a cooked exterior of the sausage which impedes heat reaching and cooking the core. It’s similar to searing a steak to produce a rare center. Also research the term “barbecue stall.”
As for cure: Instacure/Prague powder # 1 is used for any type of cured meat product that will require cooking, such as bacon, hams that are not air-dried, and smoked sausages. 2 tsps of Instacure 1 is enough to cure roughly 10 lbs of sausage or bacon.
Instacure/Prague powder # 2 is used for meat products that will be air-dried and not cooked, such as dried salamis, pepperonis, and some air-dried hams.
The reason for the addition of sodium nitrate in Instacure 2 is that over a long curing period, sodium nitrate breaks down very slowly into sodium nitrite.
Screamin Like MT Elk Hunter says both an oven and a smoker are basically boxes with heaters in them or attached. You can absolutely do summer sausage in an oven, in fact a lot of people do. You might want to consider adding Hickory Smoke Powder to give it a smoke flavor. Also, how low your oven will go will matter. If you have an oven that will run at 120° you are fine, if it won’t you might have to prop the door for an hour or so to start your smoke schedule around 120° and then step it up as you go.
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