Proper Curing - Summer Sausage

  • Greetings -
    Looking for clarification on the proper hold time for Summer Sausage cured with InstaCure #1, and without ECA.

    The off-the-shelf seasoning kits (LEM Backwoods,etc…) that include InstaCure #1 clearly state that the stuffed sausage should be refrigerated overnight. Similarly, the Walton Summer Sausage videos state that the use of ECA allows you to go straight to the smoker, inferring it would not be otherwise possible to avoid a hold/overnight refrigeration, without a cure accelerator such as as ECA.

    I tend to be a “by the book” guy when it comes to food safety, as such, looking for clarity here on the following:

    1. Clear guidelines on the use of InstaCure #1 (without ECA) in Summer Sausage. Specifically: A.) what is required in terms of (refrigeration, hold time, hold temp,) when using InstaCure #1, without ECA? B.) What is gained by holding Summer Sausage overnight that would be sacrificed by going direct to the smoker (without ECA)?

    2. Given the reply to #1 above, other than the tangy flavor, what exactly is the ECA’s function that allows you to go directly to the smoker and avoid the need to go overnight in the fridge?

    Thanks in advanced for the replies!

  • Walton's Employee

    @tincuptom First, this is an extremely well worded and interesting question! I can’t speak for LEM or any other place but our advice works on seasoning and cures we provide, as obviously, we are far more familiar with those.

    When you are using Sure Cure (Cure #1) without any type of cure accelerator you need to hold it for 12 hours in a refrigerator before going to the smokehouse to allow the cure time to work. If you do not give the cure time to work in the meat you will essentially be smoking uncured meat. The Nitrites in Sure Cure convert to nitric oxide which gives meat the cured flavor, burns it a nice red and helps fight off botulism and other harmful bacteria.

    Encapsulated Citric Acid (I’d love to start calling it ECA and have everyone agree on that, much easier to type!) acts as a cure accelerator, so it is speeding up the conversion of nitrites to nitric oxide. And if you are using a cure that has nitrates then the nitrates have to convert to nitrites that then converts to nitric oxide. The acidic environment created when using encapsulated citric acid allows the cure to be effective much faster. We will be getting into what happens after it converts to nitric oxide in Meatgistics University advanced classes.

  • @jonathon , as always, thanks for the quick reply! I was admonished on another forum for answering a question on this issue, suggesting that when using InstaCure #1 and no accelerator, the SS must be held overnight. Sincerely hopedI hadn’t spread bad information.

    You guys do a tremendous job of educating this community - never take for granted how valuable your videos and this board are to those us us interested in this pursuit. You have a loyal customer here. TCT

  • Walton's Employee

    @tincuptom Why anyone would call someone else out for providing helpful information (especially when it is correct) to another person is beyond me. That is one of the things I have to say I really love about the meatgistics community, we have yet to run into a single person being rude to another user. I think that helps everyone feel safe enough to ask what they might think of as a “dumb” question.

    As for providing bad information, Austin and I monitor everything fairly closely and if we ever saw something we thought was flat out wrong and potentially harmful we’d contact that person through chat and quietly delete the post. There is no reason to point out each other’s errors here. One exception to that is if anyone sees that I have made a mistake, please point it out to me! My mind sometimes wanders when I am typing and I am very capable of thinking one thing and typing another. So, if you see an error from me, let me know!

  • Great reply John… If one does not ask questions, how does one learn? I have always believed that.

  • How can ECA act as a cure accelerator when it is "encapsulated " can you explain how this works?

  • @sudsman think of ECA as having a structure similar to that of a gel capsule. In this case the coating on the citric acid is made from a hard, edible fat, with an approx melt point of (135-150 F). When the internal temp of the meat is high enough to melt the fat coating, the citric acid is released to go to work. Will leave the science of exactly what the ECA does to higher authority. Suffice it to say, the ECA must not be damaged (capsules ruptured) in the mixing process or the citric acid will go to work too early. As such the recommendation for adding only during the last 60 seconds of the mixing time, and immediately prior to stuffing/smoking.

  • Walton's Employee

    @Sudsman @TinCupTom’s response was dead on! The acidic environment that the citric acid creates speeds the conversion and helps the nitrite (which is quickly converted into nitric oxide at this point) fight off botulism spores and other harmful bacteria. The exact science of this will require it’s own advanced video in Meatgistics University.

  • Wow, great information thanks!

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