GODUCKS well said 👏. I feel the same way.
Curing Meat for Summer Sausage
I am in the process of making summer sausage. Will dry/smoke flavor in the smoker. I ground my 30 lbs. of Beef/Pork mix with a 10mm (3/8) plate last Thursday morning. Added the required amount of cure, 1.2 oz. I am mixing the meat twice a day to ensure that all meat is coming in contact with the cure. Keeping meat at 34 degrees in fridge. After 8 days, this Friday, I will add spices, mix meat and grind for second time with 6mm (1/4 inch) plate. Finally, here is my question: Since the meat should be thoroughly cured, do I have to smoke it to a temp of 152 or higher? I prefer not to smoke that high, I like the texture of summer sausage better if smoked to lower temp. I do not want my fat to render/melt. Am using 12" x 2.4" Walton’s pre-struck casings.
AndyMan My first question would be what are you trying to achieve with this process? It sort of sounds like you are going to a dryer, more charcuterie style summer sausage, am I correct on that or no? Did you use any type of starter culture? When you are stating you don’t want your fat to render is this because you want nice big pieces for particle definition?
For food safety, you absolutely need to achieve lethality on your product. The simplest way of doing that is by cooking beef or pork up to 160°. At that temperature, common and harmful bacteria will instantly be killed, it’s a very simple and effective way of making sure your meat is safe to consume but it’s not the only way.
We are going to be going over this in later Meatgsitics University Videos but there are other ways to reach lethality without cooking your product up to 160°. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) created what is commonly referred to as Appendix A. You can check out their documentation here (https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/bf3f01a1-a0b7-4902-a2df-a87c73d1b633/Salmonella-Compliance-Guideline-SVSP-RTE-Appendix-A.pdf?MOD=AJPERES) and if you scroll all the way down to page 33 you will see a chart that says how long to hold a product at a certain temperature to reach lethality in beef or pork. Beef and pork is the 6.5 log(3rd column from the left) and poultry is the 7 log.
The issue here is tracking the temperature, you need a probe thermometer, something like the Grill Eye Pro Plus. With this, you can tell exactly how long the internal temperature of your summer sausage has been at a specific temperature.
Let me know on those questions and we will see if we can offer any further help!
AndyMan: It may help you to take a look at my post from August “Summer Sausage Nightmare” and the replies from Jonathan and others. Looking back, my problem was a lack of mixing the meat properly. I was not getting enough protein extraction, so the fat in the meat was cooking out during smoking. This left the Summer Sausage tasting dry and with the mouth feel of a sawdust log. I purchased one of the meat mixers from Walton’s and it fixed this problem. My small 20 pound mixer was not expensive and does a great job mixing the meat. It’s well made and easy to clean.
Also, by following the smoking times suggested by Waltons and keeping a pan of water in the smoker my sausage was “stalling out” in the last critical hour of the smoke process–never reaching an internal temp of 160F. Of course, your product must be brought up to 160F internal temp if you expect to be safe from food bacteria. We don’t want to make people sick with our sausage. For me, the solution, as suggested by several of the “Old Pros” who follow this site, was to stop smoking after about four hours and transfer the product to a heated water bath to bring the internal temp up to 160F. I was getting to 145F - 150F in the smoker, but couldn’t close the gap to 160F. About 15 min. in a hot water bath (slightly below boiling) did the trick. The sausage comes out of the water fully cooked, casings full and tight, without wrinkles, and the fat is fully emulsified.
Best of luck with your sausage.