By Cat, Nov 2007 (Image, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
- See also: 1. Lamb, Port & Small Game Menu; 2. Boudin Sausage
- Other Sites: The Art and Practice of Sausage Making (pdf (2)) from North Dakota State University
- Includes: 1. General information about sausage; 2. Sausage classifications and how to store/preserve them
The making of sausage is a very old art; a way of preserving meat without refrigeration (using salt as the preservative), utilizing the less tender cuts of meat. It is a tasty way to eat organ meats, prized by traditional peoples for their health-giving benefits. Today we have lost these old reasons for the foods, but still find sausages delicious.
Commercial sausages are usually treated with preservatives, but the old method of salting, controlling pH, curing or smoking, and drying (or cooking) is highly effective at preserving the product and eliminating harmful bacteria. The art of charcuterie is gaining renewed popularity as a cottage industry. Saltpeter is often added to protect the preserved meat from botulism contamination, and provides the characteristic pinkish-red color. 1
That said, some sausages are made for flavor and are intended to be used immediately, rather than preserved for storage. This includes bratwurst and bockwurst, which must be cooked thoroughly before eating (internal temperature of 160°F). Another example is Pork Boudin Sausage.
Sausage can be prepared in bulk, encased in casings, or made into meatballs. Traditionally, the casings were the intestines of slaughtered animals; today many manufactured casings are used.
When making sausages, especially those that include organ meats, it is essential that you choose a source that raises their animals on a natural (pasture) diet, and not treated with antibiotics and hormones. When the sausages are made to be preserved (rather than cooked immediately), this concern is foremost. And, when using pork, be doubly careful of your sources.
North Dakota State University (NDSU) has great information on sausage making, including a few recipes. The original link is no longer available, but you can see all their sausage articles on a search (see link in reference section). Consider starting with The Art and Practice of Sausage Making (2), a printable pdf which includes recipes for many types of sausage.
Sausage classifications, and how to store/preserve them
The following is from North Dakota State University (NDSU) (2):
- For example: fresh pork sausage, such as breakfast sausage, brats, boudin;
- Keep refrigerated. Cook bratwurst, bockwurst thoroughly before eating. Consume within 3 days or freeze.
Uncooked smoked sausage
- For example: Smoked, country style, mettwurst, keilbasa pork sausage
- Keep refrigerated. Cook thoroughly before eating. Consume within 7 days or freeze.
Cooked smoked sausage
- For example: Frankfurter, bologna, cotto salami
- Keep refrigerated. Consume within 7 days after opening vacuum package.
Dry sausage Semi-dry sausage
- For example: Genoa salami, pepperoni,
- Does not require refrigeration.
- For example: Lebanon bologna, cervelot, summer sausage, thuringer
- For best quality, keep refrigerated.
Cooked meat specialties
- For example: Loaves, head cheese, scrapple
- Keep refrigerated. Consume within 3 days after opening vacuum package.