Summer Sausage

Summer sausage can be successfully made at home. Recipes can be adapted to make them leaner than their commercial counterparts. Special seasonings can also be added.

If you plan to grind your own meat, a meat grinder is recommended. Food processors can be used, but have limited versatility since they will only produce a fine grind. Some grinders come with casing attachments. The best casings are from the small intestine of hogs or sheep. Synthetic casings made from collagen or cellulose are also available. They can usually be purchased from butcher shops that make sausage. Sausage can also be shaped and cooked without a casing.


Meat: Sausages will be moister and hold together better if there is some fat in the meat. Regular grind beef, lamb, pork, and chicken work well. Venison and turkey might need a little pork or beef fat added. Mixing leaner meats with ground pork  will make a leaner product. The standard recipe usually uses 4 pounds of ground venison or turkey to 1 pound of ground pork. Keep the meat as cold as possible during the entire sausage making process.

Nonfat dry milk: You can add ¼-½ cup of nonfat dry milk per pound of meat to help hold leaner sausage together.

Nitrates and Nitrites: Sodium and potassium nitrite and nitrate (saltpeter) have been added to cured meats for centuries. These additives have several purposes. They preserve the red color of meat; they help to give the distinctive cured flavor; and they inhibit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that cause botulism food poisoning.

Under certain conditions, nitrite can react with amines from protein to form nitrosamines both in foods and in the digestive tract. Some nitrosamines have been found to cause cancer in animals. Because of this concern, less nitrite is now used for commercial meat curing. Extreme caution must be exercised in adding nitrate or nitrite to meats. Home sausage makers should never use more than the amounts recommended in up-to-date recipes.

Seasonings: Common seasonings are mustard seed, coarsely ground pepper, seasoning peppers (like cayenne, chili, or lemon pepper), garlic, and small amounts of thyme, oregano, cloves, and anise seeds. Seasonings can be varied depending on personal taste. Many pre-mixed seasoning blends can be purchased.

You can find your ingredient list and instructions HERE