Making Sausage for the First Time

| 4/22/2011 3:25:00 PM

Tags: Meat, Processing, Cooking, Smoking, Curing, Sausage,

A photo of the author, Caleb ReganEvery February in recent years, a few months after my deer has been hung and cut up, I’m left thinking of ways to use the non-steak cuts, the portion of the deer normally ground up. My wife’s Venison Meatloaf is unstoppable, Venison Chili is a seasonal favorite, but towards the end of the winter, we’re still inevitably left with around 25 pounds of ground venison.

Evenings when I fend for myself at the dinner table, when Gwen’s away for work, I’ll slip in charcoal-grilled venison burgers, but that’s an admittedly acquired taste that I’ve come to really enjoy and look forward to but would never feed to someone I love. Doe deer burgers are usually pretty tasty to me now, but I remember well eating deer burgers as a young boy and loathing every bite; the deer I have in mind was not exactly processed in optimal conditions, from what I remember.

The desire to find new methods for consuming those extra pounds of ground meat, coupled with my father-in-law’s yearly surplus of awesome-tasting deer snack sticks, made me first get serious about jerky, snack sticks, and making sausage in general. Curing seemed like a cool process, and I wanted to take the plunge.

The three necessities I needed were, in order of importance, a grinder, sausage stuffer, and smokehouse. There are ways to get around the smoker (you could smoke in a normal smoker, or even bake in the oven). But to make 21 mm snack sticks, which I knew I wanted to do, I’d need a manual crank stuffer, and a preferably electric, high-power grinder. And a smokehouse would allow me to slow-smoke the meat like it deserved.

TSM Smokehouse 

Mad Cow Cutlery had all three, and what I ended up with was the TSM Electric #12 Meat Grinder, a 1 hp beauty that gets after it to the tune of 330 pounds per hour; the TSM 5 lbs. Stainless Steel Sausage Stuffer; and the TSM 30-pound Country Style Insulated Smokehouse.

aaron chism
1/16/2013 4:58:07 PM

I am just starting to get in to making my own sausage. I have close to 50 lbs or more of Elk and Venison, and was looking for a few pointers in the seasoning department. I was given a packet of "basic" seasoning from a local grocer, but do you have anything specific you like to use? Thank you.

suzanne cox
8/24/2011 10:52:27 AM

We're going to try our hand this weekend on butchering our own lamb at home. The plan is to make some sausage while we're at it. Could you recommend any paticular books or reading material on recipes or processes that work best? We're starting small with a kitchen aid meat grinder and sausage stuffer. Hoping to get a large grinder and slicer next year. Got a smoke house in the planning to. Just so much to do and not enough time! But we've got sheep, chicken, turkey, and pigs and are looking for some cattle. Our goal is to produce all of our own meat for our family and most of our veggies. We've had a slaughterhouse do our processing before, but you are right, it just seems kind of wrong to us. We would rather do the whole process ourselves from birth to freezer.

muck boot diva
7/20/2011 10:18:00 AM

Now THIS is something I am interested in! We will have Rabbits and Sheep on the farm when we go full time -- Geese too. I am big on sausage. You can do anything with it. I have to show this to the MWM (Man with Muscles) and see what he thinks! MBD

jason schwarz
4/27/2011 8:13:29 AM

Congratulations! I have been curing and smoking meat for a little over twenty years...and still love it. It truly is an art and science. Until recently I generally used prepackaged mixes and fixed quantities of meat, usually multiples of five pound batches. Everything I knew about curing and smoking had been handed down to me from previous generations. Then, around 2009, I started to read a little more about the subject. I started with "Meat Smoking and Smokehouse Design" by Stanley Marianski and his sons. This book really explains the curing process. The authors dispell the myths surrounding nitrate and nitrite, and teach you how to safely use both of these necessary ingredients (depending on what kind of sausage you are making). Their new book, "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages" is my new curing and smoking bible. If you want to mix your own seasonings, brines, etc., purchase this book and keep it close to your meat grinder. I also recommend "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing" by Rytek Kutas, and "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polycyn. Good luck! P.S. You called it, sausage needs some fat, even if you have to add a little. It is a binder and enhances the flavor of the seasonings. I have found sausages that are too lean loose flavor faster, especially if you have to freeze some of the surplus, which, in a nonrestuarant setting, is almost a necessity...unless you really gobble it down or make small batches more frequently.

nebraska dave
4/25/2011 8:59:27 AM

Caleb, congratulations on making your first deer sausage. You folks there at Grit just get to have all the fun testing stuff don't you? That's the cutest little smoke house I've ever seen. I helped with the processing of two sheep last month on my friend's farm. I really think that those folks that eat meat should at least help process an animal once to be able to appreciate what sacrifice the animal gives for us to live. Yes, there probably would be a lot more vegetarians but plants are alive as well. They sacrifice their life so that we can live. It might not be the same life as an animal but it's life as they know it. So what's the difference? Even nuts and berries have the life force in them before being roasted or jellified. So there is really hardly anything that we eat they doesn't have a sacrificed life force attached to it. Yeah I know, some folks wonder about what goes through this brain of mine. Have a great sausage day.

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