Question About Making Sausage

james 14james 14 Posts: 3,001 Moderator
Gonna make my first batch of sausage using a store bought pork shoulder and mixing 50/50 with venison. The pork I bought had a nice, thick layer of fat but it appears it also has the skin. Should I try to remove the skin before I cut it up to grind or leave it? Logic would tell me to remove it but I figured I would ask here first if anyone might have any idea one way or the other.
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Replies

  • james 14james 14 Posts: 3,001 Moderator
    Seems many of the BBQ guys leave it on when smoking and still eat it. I just wonder what the texture would be like ground up in sausage or if it would even be noticed.
  • James243James243 Posts: 767 Officer
    I think that you should remove it. Maybe people do leave it on, but I don't think you will be cooking it as long as BBQ, and the texture of the sausage would be affected. Interesting question. Maybe try a little bit that way first.
  • bswivbswiv Posts: 7,541 Admiral
    Remove it.......and fry it up!!!!
  • RexLanRexLan Posts: 868 Officer
    NEVER leave the skin from the pork on and grind into your sausage. :nono

    RULE ... NEVER, ever, put crap in sausage. You can get away with some less than desirable trimming of the meat when you just smoke it because it will render but you never put it in the sausage - only the best and none of the fatty looking gristle tissue.

    If it has skin I suspect it is the picnic and not the butt. You will get a much better finished product with a butt and mix it 60% pork and 40% deer. The picnic is a fattier piece but not a bargain. Save all the trim and scraps and the bone and see what the yield is ... you'll find it was not a great deal after all.
    Port Charlotte, Florida
  • jbnportjbnport Posts: 12 Greenhorn
    Remove the skin, just like if you were smoking ribs you still remove the skin on the back side first. I usually buy the whole pork loins at Sam's for sausage. The meat is lean and tender but has a nice fat cap. I cut the fat cap off and cut the meat in chunks for grinding. I add the fat as I go and don't always use it all. I prefer a leaner sausage and that's the beauty of making your own- you control spices and fat content.
  • DayzGonByeDayzGonBye Posts: 82 Greenhorn
    What Rex and Jbn have said is great advice. Also start with small batches and taste it. No need to stuff it into casings either until you get it the way you want it. Many guys make sausage as a way to get rid of meat and that's a shame. Also agree with staying on the lean side. Sausage gets a bad rap for being greasy and it doesn't have to be that way. Another trick for great flavor is to go with a coarse grind on your pork component. Sausage shouldn't be an amorphous spongy log in my opinion if the meat and fat have integrity they will taste better and it will be healthier as well. Good luck, post pics when you're done.
  • AllenRAllenR Posts: 2,702 Captain
  • omegafooomegafoo Posts: 3,127 Captain
    Another remove from me.

    I too use an actual port shoulder and not a picnic. I also go a lot leaner than most in that I'm only putting in 35% pork. Sure, there's not as much fat but I don't have a problem with my sausage being dry either, if you don't over cook it.

    I might try and reverse my ratio to 60/40 this year. I've followed a lot of what Rex has said about sausage making and might see how it works out for my taste. Got a doe that came out of the walk-in cooler last week and sitting under ice right now for me to do something with.

    Jerky and snack sticks are on the list for her.
  • 12bhunting12bhunting Posts: 291 Deckhand
    Definitely remove the skin. I raise hogs and all my Boston butts are saved for deer sausage. I like 60% deer / 40% whole butts. I never have grease to discard after cooking yet my sausage has never been dry. As mentioned I prefer a course grind. I also like my fat half froze when grinding, it just works better for me. If you do not have a set seasoning recipe the post above about tasting a small batch first is the best advise.
  • red owlred owl Posts: 671 Officer
    One more vote to remove the skin. Are you using sausage casing? If you are cheap you can make patties and cook and freeze and then just "brown and serve" whenever. But I'm not a gourmet.
    You can also do a pork/venison meatloaf if you like that sort of thing. Roll out like a log and wrap in bacon and then (when cooked) slice into hockey puck sized portions.
  • james 14james 14 Posts: 3,001 Moderator
    Ok, skin will come off and next time don't get a "picnic". I would've rather gotten a loin because it would've been easier but the shoulder has more fat. This is the first time I will try to make a cased sausage.
  • 12bhunting12bhunting Posts: 291 Deckhand
    I would not waste any of my loins on sausage. A little extra work but in the end you will not taste or notice the difference between loins and butts. Now I did make a batch with bacon last season that was pretty **** tasty. Especially cut with burger and partied out on the grill.
  • RexLanRexLan Posts: 868 Officer
    IMHO using a loin is wrong. It is too lean and defeats the purpose. You need the fat for sausage. Depending on type I would use a 36- 38mm casing.

    I never put bacon in sausage. A complete waste of perfectly good bacon and after cooking it the bacon runs about $15/lb. 1# of bacon cooked will yield ~ 3.5 oz. finished.

    If you are going to do this more do yourself a service and your sausage a favor ... buy a small 5# vertical stuffer. Buy it from Grizzly ... stay away from Cabela's and those outfits since 2x the price.
    Port Charlotte, Florida
  • Fish AddictFish Addict Posts: 686 Officer
    RexLan wrote: »
    buy a small 5# vertical stuffer. Buy it from Grizzly

    Rex, is this the one youre talking about? Also what are the advantages of using this over just stuffing right from the grinder? Just easier?

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/5-lb-Sausage-Stuffer-Vertical/H6252?utm_campaign=zPage&utm_source=grizzly.com
  • RexLanRexLan Posts: 868 Officer
    Rex, is this the one youre talking about? Also what are the advantages of using this over just stuffing right from the grinder? Just easier?

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/5-lb-Sausage-Stuffer-Vertical/H6252?utm_campaign=zPage&utm_source=grizzly.com

    Yes that is the one and I have put hundreds of pounds of sausage through it. If you try to make sticks you will likely break a gear ... but they stock them and Allied Kenco has nylon ones for $10. I broke one (on sticks) and they replaced them, no problem since.

    Using a grinder to stuff sausage is like using a chain saw and sledge hammer to make cabinets. Even with the correct attachment the grinder will further masticate the meat, get it warm and likely smear the fat which means if will not bind and will render out. Just all around a BAD deal. Some folks do it however - not me. Take care of it and it should last a lifetime.

    Also on that page is parts ... order an extra couple of O-rings. I've never replaced one but if you have an issue it isn't likely you will find one locally. Cheap too at $1 ea..
    Port Charlotte, Florida
  • AllenRAllenR Posts: 2,702 Captain
    And on another note....at least once per season, sharpen and hone your grinder knife and plates. It is super easy to do. Can do it in a couple hours. Plenty of youtube videos on how to do it. It makes a world of difference. Same concept as trying to skin a deer with a butter knife vs a knife that will shave
  • james 14james 14 Posts: 3,001 Moderator
    AllenR wrote: »
    And on another note....at least once per season, sharpen and hone your grinder knife and plates. It is super easy to do. Can do it in a couple hours. Plenty of youtube videos on how to do it. It makes a world of difference. Same concept as trying to skin a deer with a butter knife vs a knife that will shave

    I do this often, however, I never thought about doing the plates as well.

    Someone mentioned adding bacon and I tried that once and didn't like it. It tasted just like ground up bacon and nothing like sausage.

    Rex, where do you get your fat for sausage?
  • Fish AddictFish Addict Posts: 686 Officer
    RexLan wrote: »
    Using a grinder to stuff sausage is like using a chain saw and sledge hammer to make cabinets. Even with the correct attachment the grinder will further masticate the meat, get it warm and likely smear the fat which means if will not bind and will render out. Just all around a BAD deal. Some folks do it however - not me. Take care of it and it should last a lifetime.

    So do you just run your meat through grinder with coarse plate and then throw in this stuffer to make your links/brats/sticks? Going to throw this on my christmas list..
  • Reel TealReel Teal Posts: 3,850 Captain
    At the meat market I worked at we always ground 2 times coarse. Used only pork shoulder, definitely no skin. Just adding to what has been said. All good information here.
  • RexLanRexLan Posts: 868 Officer
    I had posted in the kitchen side about sharpening the plate/knife awhile back. It is very, very important as Allan said.

    @James - Getting the fat is the million dollar problem. It is near impossible to get, Publix yesterday wanted ... hang on ... $4/lb for it! Out of their mind. I save all of the pork fat I come across like on a loin or chops. Then I use butts which are ~ 18% fat. Sometimes I will buy a couple of picnics which are ~ 22-24% fat. Butts work well with an 80/20 beef but a little lean with deer for me.

    Example:

    6:4 ratio = 6# pork and 4# deer = 10# product. The 6# of butt will have ~ 1# lb. of fat so your new mix is only 10% fat ... way too lean for a good sausage and it will be dry, maybe crumble even. Others may like it but not me. 20% is about minimum. So in this instance you need 5# pork, 4# deer and 1# of extra fat .... now it is usable for sausage, IMHO.

    I stopped grinding twice because you run a good risk of smearing the fat on the second go. If you must, then it is best to refreeze it partially after the first run to get it very cold again. Some stores will run twice but have much larger machines. Even with my big grinder I have to be pretty quick to do it and subsequently concluded it was a waste of time after a few thousand, yes thousand, pounds of moos was run through it. Most of the grinders are metric and I use a #12 with a 7mm (~ 1/4") disk with ONE grind.

    This is a good entry level, light duty unit for under $90 and it is the same one Sunmile and Northern Tool sell for $160:
    https://www.amazon.com/Electric-Industrial-Professional-Commercial-Attachment/dp/B00VSRKLIA/ref=sr_1_10?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1478018956&sr=1-10&keywords=meat+grinder

    @fish ... it isn't near that simple. Sausage is not quick and it actually is not cost effective, even with your "free" deer meat because casings alone are around 40¢/lb., mixes 25¢, butts $1.85/lb. less trim so more like $2.10/lb. You will have $2.75/lb in it before you even start. The advantage is you can make stuff you can't buy and I use a lot of package seasonings from AC Legg's old plantation mixes ... excellent product and they are cheaper than making from scratch. I have a dozen that I like from them. Cabela's and those boys have stuff but I'm not impressed and especially for the stupid high prices. I also have 2 cabinets and a freezer full of spices that I buy bulk in pound bags.

    After your grind you have to blend in your seasonings/cure then mix by hand about 3-5 minutes to break down the protein so it will attach to the fat. From there into the stuffer and then process or freeze.

    Here is a good read from Len's site http://lpoli.50webs.com/page0001.htm
    Port Charlotte, Florida
  • Fish AddictFish Addict Posts: 686 Officer
    Rex do you use the same 6:4 ratio for sausage no matter what the meat? For venison or pork sausage? Do you ever use JUST fat when making sausage or do you always like to mix in the pork meat as well? I have close to 60lbs of solid pork fat from 3 berkshire/yorkshire hogs we raised this past year. Hoping to make some pork and venison sausage with it after christmas

    sorry for all the questions. Just bought a grinder last year and just now experimenting with trying to make my own sausage. That link you posted has a TON of info
  • RexLanRexLan Posts: 868 Officer
    Rex do you use the same 6:4 ratio for sausage no matter what the meat? For venison or pork sausage? Do you ever use JUST fat when making sausage or do you always like to mix in the pork meat as well? I have close to 60lbs of solid pork fat from 3 berkshire/yorkshire hogs we raised this past year. Hoping to make some pork and venison sausage with it after christmas

    sorry for all the questions. Just bought a grinder last year and just now experimenting with trying to make my own sausage. That link you posted has a TON of info



    Holly crap pork man!! Sell the fat and buy prime rib ... lol.

    Can make some fine smoked bacon out of the belly's.

    That nice fat is worth big bucks and I would go to extremes to take very good care of it. If you are raising the hogs yourself I would also use the picnics if you're going to use venison.

    Your meat depends on what you are making. Some is 50/50 beef and pork. Some 2 beef and one pork. With venison I always use 60/40 but others say they get good results with different mixes. The pork give the smooth mouth feel and you other meat offers more of the flavor. Depending on my pork and say a summer sausage I will use a 90/10 beef instead of 80/20. I've been doing this over 40 years and when we lived in Alaska I made a pile of the stuff ... still do even now.

    I would decide what it is you want yo make and then send me a PM ... I will send you some recipes I use/like. I have a great Jalapeño, brats, kielbasa, Amish baloney, etc.

    Len's site has several hundred recipes. My experience has not been excellent with most of his formulations ... different tastes I suspect.

    Con Yeager has an excellent site and sells good quality spices. They have a free formulations book you can download here:
    http://content.conyeagerspice.com/files/Cookbooks/VenisonFormulationsCYS.pdf

    If you buy $100 of stuff call them and they will knock off 25% and you pay shipping ... good deal.
    Port Charlotte, Florida
  • bgeorgebgeorge Plant City FLPosts: 1,634 Captain
    For what I buy premix I get from conyeager also. Sometimes I pick up in person while in PA. They even offer a class on making sausage. Their hot sticks and pepper sticks disappear as fast as we open a pack. Talk about making a few non hunter friends appreciate your harvest.
    The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. Hopefully the next man is not dropping his stones on the mountain you are trying to move.
  • james 14james 14 Posts: 3,001 Moderator
    I stuffed about 14lbs this afternoon. I erred on the side of using a little more pork than venison but can't say an exact percentage. The seasoning was an LEM Sweet Italian with LEM "fresh" casing. I ground both meats using the largest plate, put them in the freezer while I ground the rest of the venison I had, pulled them out and mixed them together with the season and then ran them back through the grinder (minus the blade and plate) into the casing. Getting the casing stuffed correctly seems to be an art form. It's a balance between the casing being too loose that you waste it and too tight that you can't twist the individual links. Seems I should err on the side of being too loose since I busted the casing a couple of times.

    I cooked up a link this evening and must say I liked it better than some store bought sausage I recently had. Either the venison or my grinder gave it a finer texture which I enjoyed compared to the chunkiness of the store bought sausage. It had just enough fat to give it some moisture and flavor. I wouldn't want to go any lower.

    Overall, I'm glad it tastes better (to me) than what I've gotten from the store. I can't say, however, that all of the effort was worth it. The worst part was having to stuff the casing as the meat was very sticky after being mixed with the seasoning mixture. Perhaps the stuffer Rex suggested would make this easier and might be a consideration should I decide to do more in the future.
  • RexLanRexLan Posts: 868 Officer
    The stuffer is a bargain for under $100 and it will improve your product and experience 2 x.

    I have found that just a slight resistance to the casing while the meat pulls itself off the tube is just right. The grinder setup does not provide the correct pressure/flow. I stopped twisting sausage and only braid it now. It is quick and works perfectly. OR, if you're going to smoke it it is simple to just pinch it and lay it across the racks.

    This is the easiest method but there are a lot of videos available.
    [video]

    With any of the Italian mixes pick it up a notch and add 1/2 tsp of Anise and Fennel to your mix/per 5 lb.. You need a small mortise/pedestal to grind it down first too.
    Port Charlotte, Florida
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 2,483 Captain
    Follow what rexlan said. Use Boston butts, and other good quality ingredients. As a fyi, it's also easier to work with smaller batches that are still almost frozen. We started making our own sausages a few years ago and there's no comparison to the crap from the stores. I also use about a 50/50 mix with venison to pork. We've done allot of experimenting and haven't had any poor results to be honest, but we read volumes on it before we attempted it. The bottom line is it's a great way to use up certain cuts of meat and once you've learned a few tricks, you'll be turning out a quality product with relative ease. Just remember to use quality ingredients. If you put crap in, you'll get crap out.
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 2,483 Captain
    Also, invest in a stuffer abd use natural hog casing. The collagen casings are too rubbery in my opinion. I just got some high temp cheese in that will be going into a nice little cheese brat grind in a few weeks once I'm finished killing deer.
  • james 14james 14 Posts: 3,001 Moderator
    I will definitely have to get a stuffer if I continue doing this. I really like having another outlet for the ground meat I accumulate in a season...especially if it's a good season like this one has been. I also made some decent jerky sticks using the oven on convection instead of the dehydrator. I can use a higher temp in the oven (200 compared to 155) and it not only cooked it quicker but gave a better texture in the end product.

    Is there a way to twist/braid the sausage that will hold when you cut the individual links apart from each other?

    I may also have to hit up the local Publix that offered me free pork trimmings. If it looks good I'll freeze it and save it. I didn't want to rely on it this time since I was unsure of what exactly I'd be getting.
  • RexLanRexLan Posts: 868 Officer
    If you can get pork trim from Publix take all they will give you and or sell you for 49¢/lb. Double wrap tightly and freeze in 1 lb. packs.

    After you braid/twist the links put in the fridge if you're not going to smoke them and let sit overnight. Then cut apart and they will be fine.

    I use a large roaster with water at 160° to finish hot dogs and chub products like salami. Sometimes I will poach my fresh sausage in it for 2 minutes to shrink the casings and set the meat. Extra step and not worth the effort unless you are making some chubs.

    Best casings I have come across are from Butcher & Packer http://www.butcher-packer.com/. There is a HUGE variation in quality with 95% of the hog casings being tough. Soaking, vinegar, lemon juice does not fix it and that is just the way it is. Best you can do is soak a minimum of 24 hrs before use. NEVER buy the home packs ... all scraps and shorts. Worst I have ever had were from Sausage Maker.

    If you want a real hassle try some sheep casings at 2x the cost ... a royal pain in the **** ... very difficult to work with.
    Port Charlotte, Florida
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