Curing Meat for Summer Sausage
AndyMan last edited by
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.
@papasop I have a response from the manufacturer…
They said that they designed the mixer in a way that it would not need to run in reverse for a long time. It should mix efficiently enough in one direction and it was designed to mix in just 1 direction. So, using the grinder in any scenario (grinding or mixing) you should limit the reverse time to approximately 5 seconds at one time.
My own opinion on the mixing is that I wouldn’t mix in just 1 direction though. I think there is still a benefit to going in reverse, even if temporarily, so I think my course of action for the future will probably be to mix 90% of the time in 1 direction, but still do the reverse in the 5 second interval. Probably something like 30 to 60 seconds forward, 5 seconds backward, then another 30 to 60 forward, etc… I think that would get enough benefit of a direction mix cycle, but still limit the reverse action as much as possible.
@jonathon Moscow Mules!! I’m sold. Will It BBQ is on the way soon for sure!
@alan Lol, I’m an idiot, just the other day I said that I am fully capable of thinking one thing and typing something else! Getting information from an old timer is usually a great way to go! Glad you got it worked out though! Send pictures of them!
@Danbow Back when I was in customer service I know I talked to someone who either said his wife did it exactly how you are explaining it or I talked to the woman who did it, I wonder if I was talking to either you or your wife?!
Wrapping it in foil would keep more moisture in the product, same basic process that some people do when they are smoking ribs. I can absolutely see how this would work and I think the way she is doing it, without a casing, would be more effective when wrapping it in foil. I don’t think you’ll ever convert me from using a casing but we might be making some updates here and when we do I might have access to an oven and will give this a try!
Lol, no rice in Andoullie. You are thinking of Boudin.
I spoke to an Old Timer Cajun down here and he said, after you cure your meat for 24 hours, spray and moisten the meat just before stuffing it. If the stuffing is too dry, the meat will shrink when smoked and it will make voids between the stuffing and casing.
The recipe I use is hundred plus years ago and I added some modern safeguards and seasonings. By the way, I use Boston Butt & Cushion Meat, in lieu of the hogs head and neck.
The Smoke Houses are selling it for over $10 a pound here and I can make it for $1.30.
LaPlace, LA is, The Andoullie Capital of the World!
@jonathon Thank you for your quick and detailed response. It is greatly appreciated. Just another reason why Walton’s is the best. For some reason, I thought that you needed to soak the collagen before loading it on the stuffing horn. Thanks for the correction there.