We have been wanting to make our own sausages for a very long time, and even bought a book by Bruce Aidells. The problem was that we could never find sausage casings, and so that project fell to the wayside. Fast forward to our move to Oregon and becoming Master Food Preservers. Our daughter recently gave Bruce a book on sausage making and as in all things serendipitous we found sausage casings while wandering around the Cabela’s store in Eugene. So now, we have the MFP training, the book AND the casings! What else could we do but to make sausages?
Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique and originated as a way to preserve animal trimmings. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying or smoking, and apparently, fermenting.
Sausage is ground meat mixed with fat, salt and other seasonings, preservatives and fillings, often packed into an artificial protein or genuine animal intestine casing. Most sausages are made with pork or pork with another meat, but today you can also find beef, lamb, veal, chicken, turkey, etc. Some also use fillers like oatmeal and rice to stretch the meat a bit.
Traditionally, sausage casings were made of cleaned intestines, feet, skins or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings. Today, however, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose or even plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages.
Sausage synonyms: snags; bangers; salsiccia; wurst; sausissons
The book we used is called, Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages, Stanley and Adam Marianski
This is a book that attempts to bridge the gap between “meat science and a typical hobbyist”. The goal is to have the reader “understand the sausage making process” and “to create his own recipes”, thereby becoming independent of the recipes. A full one-third or more of the book is concerned with the science of making sausage–just the kind of book that Bruce wanted!
We made three varieties of sausage: Italian Sweet, Italian Hot and Longanisa.
Longanisa is a Philippine version of a Spanish Longaniza sausage. It is also popular in Argentina, Chili, Mexico and all other Spanish speaking countries. In 1565, Spanish Conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, arrived in Cebu, Philippines from Mexico and established a Spanish settlement that lasted over three hundred years . Along with everything else they brought with them they also brought Spanish sausages, which had to be modified somewhat due to differing climates, but the names remained the same. This sausage can be dried or smoked and can be kept fresh or frozen and cooked. (Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages, Pg. 245.)
Bruce did most of the work–figuring out how long it would take to defrost the pork, grinding the meat and mixing all the ingredients together. I helped by pushing the meat into the stuffer so that Bruce could feed it into the casings. I think in the future we will use a proper sausage stuffer, instead of the Kitchen Aid attachment. It worked fine, except that it is too high above the counter-top and makes it difficult to control the casings.
We bought collagen casings, because Bruce didn’t want to use intestines. Collagen casings are mainly produced from the collagen in beef or pig hides, and the bones and tendons. They have been made for more than 50 years. The latest generation of collagen casings are usually more tender than natural casings but do not exhibit the “snap” or “bite” of natural casing sausages. The biggest volume of collagen casings are edible, but a special form of thicker collagen casings is used for salamis and large caliber sausages where the casing is usually peeled off the sausage by the consumer. Collagen casings are permeable to smoke and moisture, are less expensive to use, give better weight and size control, and are easier to run when compared to natural casings. (Wikipedia)
That being said, they are not easy to work with. We found that if we overstuffed them they would break. Also, you can’t finish them off like you can with natural casings. With natural casings the edges stick together, but not so with collagen. They don’t twist and stay twisted so we had to tie the ends with cotton string, which had a tendency to slip off. So we had to be inventive to make sure the string stayed on the sausages.
We finally got all the meat made into sausages, but we had some that had broken. I suggested that we mix all that meat together and make more sausages. Oh, boy, they were the best! We had them for breakfast for several mornings.
All in all, making fresh sausages is very easy and you get the benefit of putting in the ingredients that you want and leaving out the ones you don’t, such as too much salt. All three of these sausages are delicious and we are looking forward to making some lamb Merquez sausage next.