How to Make Summer Sausage - Recipe
How To Make Summer Sausage
50/50 mix of 80/20 Beef and Pork Trim (or pork butts if trim not available)
25 lb 80/20 beef trim
20 lb wild game and 5 lb pork fat or beef fat, though beef fat will have a different texture and taste
Optional but recommended:
If particle definition in your finished product is important to you then you will want to trim the fat off of your meat. Then grind the meat separately, the fat should be ground twice through a 3/16th plate and the lean should be ground twice. First, through a 3/8" plate, and then through a 1/8" plate. The second grind can take a long time, keeping the meat extremely cold during this process will help immensely. Alternatively, you can use the Walton’s One Shot Grinder which will grind all the meat twice in one pass.
A meat mixer is your best option for meat mixing when making summer sausage. We need to not only thoroughly mix the seasoning, spices, and additives into the meat, but we also need to achieve a good protein extraction. Protein extraction is visibly noticeable when the meat starts to get really sticky. What this does is allow the proteins in the meat to bind with water and fat giving your sausage a better consistency and mouth-feel when eating, plus it helps keep it from being crumbly in the final product. Hand mixing is possible, but difficult to achieve the same result as using an actual meat mixer. For the mixing time, we need to mix for a total of around 8 minutes. As soon as you start mixing, you can add all the ingredients except Encapsulated Citric Acid, which can be added in the last 45 to 60 seconds, or just long enough to evenly disperse. Over mixing Encapsulated Citric Acid can lead to breaking the encapsulation which will release the acid too early and denature your proteins. This will cause your meat to become dry and crumbly.
Avoid creating air pockets when you load your sausage stuffer and begin stuffing until the casings are full with a smooth exterior. Remember to leave a little extra on the ends of the fibrous casings so you can twist them tight and clip them tightly closed with a pair of hog ring pliers.
Either hang on smoke sticks or lay on racks in your smokehouse or oven. Just be sure to leave a slight gap between the Summer Sausages. A simple cooking schedule you can follow is here:
130°F for 1 hour with no smoke or humidity and dampers wide open (Drying phase)
140° F for 1 hour add smoke and humidity
150° F for 1 hour with smoke and humidity
(Optional drying phase here of 30 minutes at 150°F for a dryer product)
160° F for 1 hour with smoke and humidity
175° F until internal meat temp of 160F
If you want to speed up your process you can remove the sausage when the internal temperature reaches 130° and put it into a Sous Vide cooker set at either 172° or 179° F If you used Encapsulated Citric Acid then make sure the internal temperature of the sausage stays above 130°F for 60 minutes.
If your smoker does not start this low you can play around with propping the lid open of your smoker to bleed out some of the heat. If you do not do this (or the below option) you should load all of you sausage into the smoker before you turn it on, this way your sausage will come up to temperature as the smoker does.
Alternatively, if your smoker doesn’t start low enough, you could vacuum seal your summer sausage and then start it out at 90 °F until the temp hits about 90 and transfer it to your smoker at its lowest setting. An extended drying period would need to be run here, which we have not yet created.
When your sausage has reached the target temperature it is important to get the sausage right into an ice bath, or a shower cycle in a commercial smokehouse. Dropping the temperature rapidly allows the casing to separate from the meat and helps prevent over-cooking and wrinkling.
We recommend you let the product hang on a rack for 1-2 hours at room temperature to allow for blooming. Then, move to a refrigerator or cooler overnight.
Take your sausage out of the cooler and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before vacuum packing.
It’s easy to get started on making a basic version of summer sausage, but practice does make perfect! Walton’s has Everything but the Meat to make fantastic tasting and looking summer sausage. Plus, we have tons of knowledge and assistance if you need it for perfecting your own process. If you have any questions or need help in your process, please share your questions or comments below.
- Place a small pan of water in the bottom of the smokehouse during entire cooking cycle to help increase humidity. Adding either a humidity towel or large automotive sponges to your smoker will increase the relative humidity in your smoker by creating more surface area for evaporation.
- If your smoker, smokehouse, dehydrator, or oven cannot reach temperatures as low as 125F, just start as low as possible and slowly increase the temperature over time
1. If you do not use a cure accelerator like Encapsulated Citric Acid or Smoked Meat Stabilizer, then after it has been stuffed into its casing hold in a refrigerator for approximately 12 hours or overnight (Return to text)
2. Use just 1 quart of water by default. If you have a history of stuffing issues or other related problems you may use up to 2 quarts but only when using Sure Gel and making sure you get excellent protein extraction. Start with 1 quart and only use more if required.
What Is Summer Sausage?
Summer Sausage is a semi-dried sausage that is typically stuffed into a larger diameter casing, like fibrous sausage casings. Most summer sausage has a low pH, which gives it that familiar tangy flavor. pH values can range from 4.5 to 5.2, and this also helps aid in shelf-stability. Besides pH, water activity can also help determine whether a product is truly shelf-stable or not, which means in summer sausage we need to bind water in the meat snacks and make it unavailable for microbial growth. Water activity is not something that can be measured by a home meat processor, but we still setup our process and thermal processing to attempt to achieve a lower water activity. Summer Sausage can be made using a variety of meats and anything like wild game or venison, beef, pork, poultry, or a combination of meats. Walton’s recommends using a lean to fat ratio of at least 80/20, and many times a 30% fat ratio, with a maximum of 40% fat. Fat is where most of your flavor comes from so changing your lean-to-fat ratio will change the overall taste and mouthfeel of your product.
frank Add smoke once you get the temperature up to 140° and then leave it on for at least 2 hours. I like to just leave the smoke pan in there until the end. Smoke will only adhere to the meat in certain temperature and humidity ranges so there is only a very small chance of adding too much smoke.
I hope that helped, let us know if you need anything else and post some pictures of how it turned out!
So I am going to make a batch of snack sticks and summer sausage . I don’t have a regular smoker. I only have a wood pellet grill/smoker to smoke the product on. It only has a smoke setting usually runs around 160 and then the next setting is 225. I know both of your recipients state to start low and stage up. Do you think starting on smoke and then going up to 225 to finish would be ok? Or should I partially open the door to regulate the temp for the first few hours?
SierraPete If your smoker starts at 160° I would start at that temp for 2 hours and then bump it up to the 225°. You will want to monitor that closely though as it is going to be fast.
The one thing you need to make sure of is if you are using encapsulated citric acid you need to keep the internal temp of the snack sticks or summer sausage between 135 and 160° for at least 1 hour to allow the citric acid to work.
Jonathon Good news. I fired up my T pellet grill and messed with it on the smoke setting. I can adjust the P-setting which controls the off time of the auger. I got it to run at 125 and should still have enough adjustment with the p setting to bump up the temp prior to hitting 225 setting (if needed). I am using encapsulated citric acid so thanks for the advice. I didn’t know that.
tarp Yes, you can use the Smoked Meat Stabilizer instead of the Encapsulated Citric Acid as a cure accelerator. This will allow you to go directly from stuffing to the smoking process. One difference between Smoked Meat Stabilizer and Encapsulated Citric Acid is that Smoked Meat Stabilizer will not drop the pH and impart the tangy flavor that is associated with Encapsulated Citric Acid. Let me know if you have any other questions!
In2b8u That’s a tough one as a lot of factors come into play such as, what sized casing you are using, what type of smoker you are using, outside temp and humidity, but a good ballpark guess would be something around 7-9 hours. You can help yourself cut that down a little if you add moisture to your smoker somehow, a pan of water at the bottom of the smoker will add some humidity, not much but some is better than none, and that will speed the cooking process along!
So, I followed the directions to what I thought were a ‘T’, ingredients ( I did sub out for carrot fiber vs the Sure Gel), temperature schedule, the whole thing. Using 80% venison, 20% pork fat a couple of things happened. First, There was a lot of fat rendering, and that led to some loss of volume. I was kind of surprised, the sausage was not adhering to the casing. Second, was the water intrusion during the ice bath. I actually used bagged ice because I had an issue the last time when I made meat sticks, they were waterlogged. So, I put everything in an ice cube bath (no water), for 10 minutes or so, and when it was said and done, I had what I could only call a substantial amount of water inside the casing. The water would have come from the ice melting of course. I hung the sausages from a dowel in my refrigerator for a few days, hoping they would dry out some. I think they have that this point, and the casing seems to have shrunk now, but I am not sure if the sausage has adhered now. Overall the taste is good, consistency is about right, the ECA is a little over powering to me, I would skip that and just let them rest overnight.
Next ice bath gets some sort of a bag or something in between the product and the ice. Waterlogged twice now and mildly infuriated.
Is losing all that fat normal? My final casings looked nothing like the pictures in the recipe.
ihang10 You are going to experience some product loss for sure when smoking summer sausage but what you are describing still sounds more than what it should be. Does it look like the bottom picture or was there a lot more loss than that?
You shouldn’t be having that much trouble with water getting in between the casing and the meat, it should be adhering better than that. Just to be clear you are actually using pork fat right? You said that and if you are then you are fine but if you are using pork butt than that is too low of an amount.
Also, protein extraction is playing a part in here I’d think. That will help with both the fat rendering out and help it adhere to the casing better. If you have a vac machine you might also want to consider pulling the sausage out of the smoker around 130-140°, vac packing it and then finishing it up in water that is just about 170°. For more information check out this post https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/683/summer-sausage-nightmare
Also, there is some more information that would be worth reading here https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/1101/casing-question