Sausage Making

I’m going to be honest here and let you know right up front that I am a meat lover.  Maybe it’s because I have been pregnant and/or nursing for the past 5 years and need extra protein. Maybe it’s cause I have a certain blood type.  Who knows?  Eating good quality meat makes me feel much more alive, healthy, and strong.  Our family has worked hard to find sources of meat that we can feel good about – pasture raised, organic feed, locally grown, etc.

For a few years, we raised our own pigs and had them custom butchered for ourselves and a few friends.  This was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to raise pigs again. But circumstances prevented this last summer, so we went in on a hog with some friends and have been happily enjoying delicious pork all year.

A large piece of leg in our freezer beckoned to be turned into sausage, so we spent an evening last week making Sweet Italian Sausage, and Mexican Chorizo (with recipes adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn).

Here are a few photos of the process:

First, the meat and fat are cut into pieces to be ground.  It is easier to grind them if they are still a little bit frozen.

Really sharp grinder. I then added a blend of herbs and spices to the ground meat.  We did 5 lb batches each of the Italian sausages and the chorizo.

The seasoned ground meat goes into the sausage stuffer.  Now, this sausage stuffer is an antique that Brian hunted for on eBay. I think the date on it is 1886.  It is sturdy and HEAVY and can also handle larger batches of sausage – maybe 10 or 15 lbs.

Next, you slip the casings onto the stuffer.  These are purchased casings.

As you slowly turn the stuffer crank, the meat fills the casings and you get a nice long, continuous roll of sausage.

And lastly, we twist the sausages into individual links.  This 5 lb batch of Italian sausage made about 2 dozen links.  The chorizo was left in the ground form, so we can scramble it with eggs or make breakfast patties.

So there you have it!  Sausage making 101.  It is so much fun, and ever so tasty!