How to Make Homemade Sausage
Sausage making is pretty much as old as the hills. The word itself is derived from the Latin salsus meaning "seasoned with salt" so that puts us at least 2000 years ago.
Just as the smoking of meats came about as a method of preservation, the same can be said for applying salt to meat. When animals were slaughtered and the meat salted for preservation it was found that the cleaned out intestines, bladder and stomachs of the animal made excellent containers. No doubt it's this same evolution of discovery that led to Haggis.
Far from being Scottish however it is believed that the first sausage makers were Sumarians living in what is now called Iraq sometime around 3000BC. That said the first historical documentation of sausage comes around 500BC in China and also in ancient Greece.
From there it's been a steady evolution to what we see today. Sausage making in hot dry climates has given us dry cured sausage and salamis and all over the world sausage is made and prized for varieties using local seasonings.
Sausage Making Equipment
There are two essential (and one optional) pieces of equipment that you need for making homemade sausage:
A Grinder - this is the machine which pulverizes the meat
Food mixer - to mix the meat and the other ingredients, this is optional and can be done by hand
A Sausage stuffer - the machine which forces the prepared sausage into the casing
To prepare your meat and fat for grinding, cut it up into 1" - 2" cubes. Put the fat through at the same time as the meat and this makes everything go through a lot easier.
I also grind my meat twice, the first cut I use the 6mm plate and after mixing I run the sausage meat through again using the 4mm plate once the seasoning has been added.
An important step that I will talk about later in this article is the mixing of the meat with the seasoning to help release a binding protein called myosin. This mixing process can be done by hand but it's a darn sight less strenuous if done in a food mixer.
Note: A powerful food mixer is an essential piece of kit for making sausage.
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So to start the hot smoking process you need to follow the first three cold smoking steps first:
Hang your sausage in the smoking chamber
Use a fan to dry the casings
Cold smoke to add flavour at temperatures below 30°C (85°F) for anywhere between 2 and 6 hours dependent on how much of a smoky flavour you desire.
Now raise the temperature in the chamber to 60°C (140°F) for two hours and this will help your sausage take on a beautiful golden brown hue. As you start this stage reduce the aperture of your top and bottom dampers to the minimum and this will help prevent your sausage from drying out.
Note: Never close the vents altogether because your smoke will go stale and deliver an unpleasant acrid taste.
Next raise the temperature gradually to 80°C (175°F) and continue to hot smoke until the core temperature of your sausage reaches 75°C (165°F). A remote BBQ thermometer is best for this stage.
Adding more smoke during these last two phases will have minimal effect on flavour.
When you've reached the desired temperature remove them from the smoker, spray them with cold water (or fully immerse them in water) until the core temperature returns to 43°C (110°F) or lower and this will help to re-solidify the fats in the sausage and prevent shriveling.
Upon reaching this temperature you can now let the sausages cool at room temperature and you'll see them take on an even deeper brown colour (known as the bloom). An hour later you can put them in the refrigerator but remember that the smoke from your sausage will impart to other contents of your refrigerator.