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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Recent Posts

  • @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 ( that Austin made a few years ago. Please let me know if you saw incorrect information somewhere on either or and I will get that fixed.

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  • H

    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.

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  • @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.

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  • @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!

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  • J

    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.

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  • @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.

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