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Homemade Sausages

looking to try my hand at making sausages at home and looking for some advise on where t get casings and what kind? also, any other advice is welcome too

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  1. I'll start you off with a nice online store: www.sausagemaker.com

    It's where I get the casings for my andouille and I purchased their hand-crank 5-lb stuffer.

    I'd recommend contacting them for one of their catalogs. Fun to thumb through!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Monch

      let me second the sausagemaker.com I have bought all my stuff, including hardware from them. Bought one of their books (excellent) and also bought Bruce Aidell's book (also excellent).

      Word of advice: Upgrade to the 5lb crank model stuffer like Monch has. I got the smaller push model and it's a bear! (And an electric meat grinder would be nice too)

      I also decided to buy the Hamburger Patty Maker and now find I make sausage patties as much as i do links. It's a lot faster and easier and taste just as good.

      I make a lot of Linguica and home since it's hard to find here. I modified the recipe to my liking and actually use some bacon or sometimes lard to add extra fat.

    2. Have a look here http://www.sausagemania.com/ for some good sausage idea and a tutorial (plus they have an excel spreadsheat of recipes). Also here: http://www.stuffers.com/ Look to the left side of the front page mostly. they sell all manner of casings. You should try some loose sausage like say... chorizo too. Fun Fun

      1. Don't be tempted to skimp on fat - making lean sausages that taste good takes more work and skill.

        Coarseness and gristle can be good, but it depends on the kind of sausage.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          I wholeheartedly agree on the fat comment. Don't be afraid to spice either.

        2. Agree with Karl S, the fat is an absolute must for juicy links. Even if you're using pork shoulder, which you should be, you're going to need extra fat. Some butchers will give you the fat for free. I've used pancetta on a few occasions to boost the fat content, but that's more $$$.

          Depending on where you are, most italian or eastern european butcher shops (or any good butcher shop, for that matter) should be able to sell you casings. Casing is cheap. You need to soak it and run water through it to rid if of the preserving salt. Other than that, just some nimble hands to work with the stuff.

          As for what kind, you have either pork or lamb. Pork is the standard stuff and is cheap. Lamb is more difficult to locate, more expensive, but is a must if you're making Merguez or have friends who don't eat pork. The synthetic stuff, I don't know anything about. Haven't used it.

          If you happen to have a kitchenaid stand mixer, the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments work well. Meat grinder you get to use for a bunch of other ground meat applications, so a useful investment. Another tip with this, if you're planning on using garlic or herbs or sundried tomatoes or whatever in your sausage, run those through the grinder at the same time you're doing the meat.

          Internet has a bunch of tips on sausage making. AS for recipes, I find those come to mind pretty easily on your own. Final tip, fry a bit of the loose meat in a pan to test for seasoning/flavour before you stuff the links.

          Sausage making is one of the most rewarding home cooking activities I've undertaken. You get to experiment so much. I love a nice pork sausage, but the lamb is also becoming a fast favourite. And I've worked with duck as well. It's a lot of fun, and if you're a few people, make a party out of it.

            1. re: yayadave

              One type of Penzey product I was underwhelmed by, I have to say. I suspect one should not rely on a premix - there's no way of telling the balance (or lack thereof). Though I suspect I might trust a premix from a company that makes sausages for its bread & butter, as it were.

            2. I've been thinking about getting the meat grinder attachment to our mixer for a long time now- is it worth it to make your own sausage? Also, another thread on here has made me wonder- can you make your own hot dogs?

              12 Replies
              1. re: Clarkafella

                After going through the web, I'd suggest getting Rytek Kutas' Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing...looks like this
                http://www.amazon.ca/Great-Sausage-Re....
                A wealth of info.

                Second The sausagemaker.com suggestion - great resource for all kinds of stuff.

                A few more thoughts...
                you can use pre-mixed spice blends for various sausage (I'm thinking Italian, breakfast, sumer, etc), but its very easy to make your own by just following a recipe. The plus side is adding more of what you like and discarding what you don't like. The end product is more 'your own' (I haven't found an Italian blend better than my own - only cause I custom make it to the heat level and fennel amount that I like

                )

                Fat. As Karl and Sal point out, the key to a juicy sausage is fat. However, if you want to make a low-fat version, feel free to do so. You can do MUCH better than any store-bought version of a lean sausage. Granted you are working with a meat product and fat is inherent, you can probably get as much as 85-90% lean if you wanted. Of course it won't be as succulent and is better off in sauces and braises rather than fried up plain, but the point is that YOU control what goes into the product.

                Is it 'worth it' to make your own sausages? That depends on what you mean. You can probably get store-bought cheaper. It is a certain amount of time and work making your own (choosing the meat, possibly butchering a large cut, grinding, mixing, cleaning the casings, stuffing, etc). So in dollars and effort required, it may not seem 'worth it'.
                However, you'll get a superior product, you control what goes into it (no chicken lips, turkey ass, etc), and after a bit of practice, you'll get exactly what you want (correct spicing, fat content). Plus the satisfaction of making your own.

                Casings. I haven't used man made casings either, so can't comment. I've used hog casings (mostly) and sheep a few times. As pointed out, simply rinse inside and out, cut in about 3' lengths then link up after stuffing.

                As you get along, you might start drying sausage. Can't say enough about this technique, absolutely delicious. Just gotta make sure you are curing properly (instacure is the way to go).

                I like to use a leg, rather than shoulder. I also use up the skin for a coteccino style sausage.

                You can make hot dogs (frankfurters), but you have to make an emulsion (paste) of the meat, season, then smoke. I haven't done these.

                You can start out with a basic pork sausage recipe (simple as salt and pepper) and go from there - the sky is the limit; add fennel seeds, you have sweet Italian. Add fennel, pepper flakes and cayenne, you have Hot Italian. Add ginger, sage, nutmeg and thyme, and you have breakfast sausage. Add ground bay leaf, mint, and thyme and you have a mock Merguez (use lamb and you got the real thing)...you get the idear.

                1. re: porker

                  in terms of the effort required, i find it pretty manageable. there are a few steps involved, but the equipment does most of the work. and once you get going, it's pretty easy to produce a bunch of sausage. as a point of comparison, i occasionally make my own ravioli. i find sausage making a lot easier, actually. keep in mind, it's a two-person job. you need a pitcher and a catcher, so to speak. i have to say, sausage making has made my marriage stronger. at least, that's what I tell my wife.

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    "you need a pitcher and a catcher, so to speak. i have to say, sausage making has made my marriage stronger"
                    Thats hilarious - guess it depends on whos doing the pitchin and whos doin the catchin...

                    Didn't realize sausage makers were lurking...
                    I think its like beer making - you either love doing it, or can't be bothered. However, sausages can be enjoyed earlier...

                    1. re: porker

                      i think it's a blast. i love sausage. and when i've got a bunch of fresh herbs in the garden, it's a great use of them. i had a sausage making party once. a pork/garlic/herb version, a pseudo-merguez and duck. the last one was most difficult, but added some flair to the event.

                2. re: Clarkafella

                  Just going to jump in and advise that the grinder attachment, for the KitchenAid, has served me very well.

                  HATED using the stuffing attachment, that came off at a level a foot off the counter, and went to the stuffer.

                  Want to re-iterate the "fry some up before you stuff" priciple....NEVER skip this step.

                  Also, mess around with making loose sausage for awhile before you dive into stuffing casings. You'll get an idea of the flavors you can get into and STILL get a sense of the wonders of doing it yourself.

                  When I make andouille, my wife saves out about a pound of pre-stuffed grind and makes a KILLER sausage-potato soup.

                  My local supermarket even sells "Pork ends" for a fraction of the cost of the per-pound for a full roast. A bargain.

                  And yes, do NOT skimp on the fat. My first foray into this endeavor, I WAY skimped on the fat for some homemade bratwurst. The resulting product set me off sausage-making for four years. I was DUMB to fight centuries of good results for "healthy" results.

                  Kaiser Wilhelm (I think) - "The public should be sheltered from seeing two things made: Laws .....and sausage."

                  1. re: Monch

                    The andouille that I buy in Louisiana is perhaps the coarsest grind and the lowest fat sausage that I have ever seen! I wouldn't even attempt to cook it in a regular pan without adding grease of some kind. Kind of a strange concept, adding grease to sausage, but that is the way it is!

                    1. re: Monch

                      "HATED using the stuffing attachment, that came off at a level a foot off the counter". Find something the same height as the top of your bowl and get a big tray that can span the two, then use that to catch your stuffed sausage.

                      "And yes, do NOT skimp on the fat. My first foray into this endeavor, I WAY skimped on the fat for some homemade bratwurst." Ah, you too? I made the double mistake of trying to make low-fat bratwurst and then feeding it to friends who were sausage freaks. They didn't even bother to be polite about it, nor could I blame them. Bloody awful.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Will,

                        My brats were intended to impress my WISCONSIN future in-laws with my culinary skills.

                        Can you say "crash and burn'? They still let me marry their daughter...I'm lucky!

                        1. re: Monch

                          Did you get some sausage recipes as wedding presents?

                      2. re: Monch

                        Just a quick question re the kitchen aid grinder. I chill the meat first, chop it, but it all gathers around the holes of the mincing end. All i get is juice and a lot of mess....any suggestions as to what I am doing wrong?

                        1. re: michaelconkey

                          I use the kitchen aid attachments and love them. Chop your meat into 1"-2" cubes. Trim off as much silver skin and sinew as you can. Then put them in the freezer until they're partially frozen. While you're doing that put the grinder screw, blade and face plate in the freezer to get cold. Assemble the grinder immediately before you're ready to begin grinding. If you need to take a break, put the unground meat back in the freezer, disassemble the grinder and put the parts back in the freezer as well, until you're ready to start again. Since I've started doing this I've never had a problem.

                          1. re: michaelconkey

                            Have you installed the small chopper blade? It goes behind the face plate with the holes in it ( my vocabulary is showing its strength today).

                            Other than that, I don't know. I've never had a problem.

                      3. We get our natural casings from Whole Foods, we just ask the meat guy if they have any for purchase. We buy them only when we're making sausage either that day or the day after. Sometimes, the kid operating the counter has no clue what they are and will tell you they don't sell them. Ask for the department manager, who will be more than happy to sell them to you.

                        We have the Kitchen Aid meat grinder and stuffer. Love the grinder, hate the stuffer. I am contemplating buying a hand crank device just becuase I've heard they are way better.

                        Work with your meat in thirds - we leave 2/3 of the cubed meat in the freezer to stay cold while we grind 1/3. Once that's done, we take out the next 1/3. This keeps the fat cold, which is very important when making sausage.

                        Also, different sausages can require different fat ratios, and more doesn't necessarily mean better. Italian sausage can be leaner than country sausage for instance.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: jazzy77

                          re fat ratios: true. But.

                          novice sausage makers often cannot believe how much fat recipes call for in making sausage, and may be tempted to skimp. And then they waste all that effort. It's one of the most commonly reported mistakes of newbies to sausage making.

                          1. re: Karl S

                            That is true, I was amazed when I first started doing it - I'm mean right now we pretty much aim for 20%. But, lately, we've just been buying a pretty fatty pork butt and just grinding that for both Italian and country sausage. It seems to work well, but I live in NC and we have access to some pretty phenomenal pig.

                            Maybe I'm still so in love with the fact that there is no gristle, bone, or other artificial things in my sausage anymore that I haven't worried too much about my fat ratios yet.

                            1. re: jazzy77

                              Oh, you see, I *like* gristle in country-style sausages. They seem naked without it.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                Eeek!! I prefer lots of sage myself.... :-)

                                1. re: jazzy77

                                  Sage is good. Some red pepper is good.

                                  But too many Americans have gotten used to pablum in their sausages. Many (not all, to be sure) medium to coarsely ground sausages benefit from a judicious amount of gristle.

                                  When I was growing up, we had fresh (unsmoked) kielbasa made by our butcher for Christmas and Easter. My mother was always eager to make sure that we got the sausages made by the older butchers, rather than the newer ones, because the newer ones ground the meat too finely and omitted gristle. The *point* of sausages is to use odd cuts, including those with some gristle, and fat to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, as it were. Way too many Americans seem to expect to sausage to be made from pure lean muscle cuts that they are familiar with - which kinda defeats the point. (These are sometimes the same people who are horrified that dog food has organ meats in it - LOL)

                        2. As you see, you will quickly develop your own style...

                          michealc, I don't know if this is the problem, but a common mistake (I've certainly did it enough) is putting the blade on backwards. Its supposed to be up against the plate, not facing 'upstream'.
                          Sometimes lotsa tendon will snarl up the blade and plate.

                          Oh yeah, I've had salted casings leftover and tried using them at a later date (about 8 weeks later). Although they weren't spoiled (bad) the texture wasn't to my liking. I always buy fresh now.

                          I use my electric grinder to grind, but I prefer the hand-crank to stuff. I guess its basically a lack of experience, but I have better control on the hand crank.

                          When making 'fresh' sausages (to be cooked or frozen then cooked), I'm less picky as to what goes in - some gristle, tendon, etc. When I make dried sausage though, I try to get only lean meat, no gristle, blood, silverskin, or anything. I have some links in the basement, drying for a week no. I'll try to post a pict.

                          Before freezing, I'll let the sausages sit in the fridge overnight. This helps them cure and develop more flavor.

                          Yeah, sausages are a good place for less-than-desirable animal parts. My friend waxed about growing up in Italy, making sausage with liver, skin, lung, etc. He also complained how his father insisted everything be done by hand, no grinders, no stuffers, etc!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: porker

                            A few pounds of sausage hanging to dry. Tested today, but still too soft for my likes. Should be ready for Xmas. There's also my first try at lardo drying (wrapped in cheese cloth) which should be ready at about the same time

                             
                            1. re: porker

                              what kind of a room do you need to make the dried stuff?

                              1. re: grandgourmand

                                you just want it to be cool, and out of sunlight-- like the pantry, root cellar, or the same room you make beer in :)

                                we use the top part of a cool (below 50 degrees) stairway, for now (minneapolis) for sausages, hams, bacon, etc.

                                Porker: will you let us know how the lardo comes out??!? :)

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  As soup points out, it just has to be cool. Also just large enough that the sausage/meat/salami etc, doesn't touch each other or other things. You'll read about perfect temp and humidity and some people go to great lengths to get the ideal conditions by building their own drying boxes.
                                  I think you should start with what you have - a cool dark place and go from there. It might be difficult in tropical areas, but most basements in the top half of north america should be good fall through spring. A fan blowing across the meat also helps.

                                  I closed off a corner of my basement and blocked the window.

                                  The lardo is still a bit soft for my liking, but I'll definitely give it a try next week for xmas and report back.
                                  I followed Ruhlman's Charcuterie for the method. I first heard about it years ago from my Italian friend. I wasn't into charcuterie at the time and it didn't sound like much. Not long ago, I heard about Batali's 'white proscuitto', and tried it at Babbo's - quite the indulgence!
                                  We'll see how the home made stacks up.

                                  1. re: porker

                                    Is there any sure-fire way to test this stuff for safety?

                                    1. re: yayadave

                                      Don't know if you mean air dried meats in general, or sausage or lardo in particular. Either way, I think a lab test for various pathogens *might* be close to sure-fire.

                                      Short of that, being careful from the get go and following standard curing practices usually does the trick.
                                      I mentioned in the past that my old timer Italian friend did not 'believe' in 'additives' in his charcuterie or his winemaking - did not use nitrites/nitrates in his curing (he'd use plain salt) and did not use sulfites to 'sterilise' his grape must. He also never had problems. Of course the skeptic would say he was simply 'playing with fire'. Me, I'm not sure about quickly dismissing over 3 generations of experience.
                                      However, I'm not that 'old fashioned' and gladly use instacure as directed.
                                      Its the curing process that makes dry-aging or smoking meat products relatively safe from botulism.

                                      1. re: porker

                                        I guess instacure is the key, then. Thanks.

                                        1. re: yayadave

                                          But hey, talking about dry curing seems to fly in the face of safe food handling practices. Without understanding the process (and I'm just starting), you'd think its crazy to allow pork to sit at 50 degrees or so and just 'dry out'. Won't it go horribly bad? Poison? Etc.

                                          Well, it would if it weren't for proper curing.

                                          We don't think too much about buying pepperoni or proscuitto or salumi -we assume its safe 'cause its 'commercially' made, but the steps are the same.
                                          When we make it ourselves, we are scared shitless (as I was) that we'd poison ourselves. Again, the key is knowledge and proper technique.
                                          Read a bit about true prosciutto de parma - they cure an entire hog leg with salt, proper temp and humidity, and time.
                                          Thats it.
                                          Whats the result? One of the finest meats in the world....boggles the mind!

                                          So yeah, instacure is part of the key. Other points are to follow *true methods, proper handling techniqes, and so on*.
                                          Scary to start? You bet.
                                          Is it worth it? Absolutely.

                          2. http://www.eldonsausage.com/search.asp

                            Here are 2 of my favorite places, I'm lucky enough to live by Penderys. They have every spice and chili powder you could want.

                            http://www.penderys.com/

                            1. A few years ago, I made up a couple of batches of chicken sausage patties, using thighs, the KA meat grinder attachment, sage, red pepper flakes, and fat back from the grocery store.

                              Yes, fat is a must, and frying a bit for tasting is another must.

                              I have the Aidell's sausage cookbook and that helped a great deal.

                              The sausage patties were great, but the ex hated cleaning up the KA!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: tracylee

                                TracyLee--

                                next time, when you are done grinding all your sausage, run some stale bread thru the grinder-- makes cleanup *waaaay* easier! :)

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  wow...great tip!
                                  Been using a KitchenAid to stuff sausage for 20 years...and never thought of this!
                                  Good one!

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    thanks for the tip! I may get into making it again, although it was easier to store when I had a full-sized freezer. *wanders off to ponder sausage-making*

                                2. Hey there,
                                  I case regularly and made a thorough tutorial with photos to help others:
                                  http://www.cookhereandnow.com/cookher...
                                  Hope you find it helpful.
                                  ciao,
                                  Marco Flavio

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. Butcher and Packer is another good source for anything related to sausage making, other than the meat.

                                    www.butcher-packer.com

                                    If you get hooked and want to spring for an electric grinder and/or a stuffer, Northern Tool seems to offer the best price most of the time.

                                    http://www.northerntool.com/catalog/