12 hr hold before dehydrating summer sausage

  • Team Orange

    I’m making summer sausage using “H” Summer Sausage Seasoning, 1 1/2" x 12" Mahogany Casings and 80/20 hamburger using a dehydrator and finishing in the stove. My smoker wont go low enough.
    I didn’t use Sure Gel or ECA. My question, is it imperative that I hold the stuffed sausage for 12 hours before starting dehydrating? Is the hold for smokers only?

  • Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Alabama

    dhg001 The overnight sit allows the cure in the Summer Sausage mix to go to work & penetrate the meat before the smoke. 8 - 24 hours is about all you need for ground sausage type meat, thus the overnight hold. ECA is not necessary, but helps get the PH down & get a pretty strong “tang” or tart flavor in the Summer sausage as an accelerator to the cure in the Summer Sausage mix, as if it was fermented, kind of. Yes, you should hold before starting your smoke schedule. Yes, the dehydrator definitely works very well for finishing. We use it to finish our Summer Sausages & jerkies, after several hours of cool smoke to get that nice smoky flavor in to the meat. Your smoker does not necessarily have to go to the temps to hold em low. There are other methods that can be used. We just open the vents or doors to maintain the temps with wood or propane fuel, especially when we will need to kick it up a notch every hour or so. If you are just staying low, you can just use a smoke box, but you have to get the meat above that 140° area within a few hours. Use the 165° setting when finishing in the dehydrator & it will work fine.

  • Team Orange

    Is the purpose of the hold for a longer shelf life of the product? I just noticed this step and I haven’t done it with snack sticks that I’ve made and haven’t had any problems.

  • West Virginia Team Blue Team Camo

    dhg001 my understanding is the cure prevents bacteria growth while the product is being slowly smoked

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Power User Arizona Dry Cured Sausage Dry-Cured Expert

    First, welcome! I see you joined recently and have 4 posts. So I’m going to type a bunch to be helpful, but don’t intend to insult your knowledge. If you know all this, no worries and maybe it will help someone else new to it!

    I’m not totally sure what your goal is, dehydrating and then stove. And your questions make me worry you may have a misunderstanding of the risks and cooking goals. Short answer is, assuming you used cure1 which is packaged separately from H seasoning I think, you do need to let it sit to cure for 12 hrs. But if you’re not smoking for flavor, you don’t need to hit a ton of temperature points, and using dehydrator isn’t a very safe way to cook, you need the IT to get above 130 before 6 hrs without drying it out. Without smoke, I would just sous vide.

    Here are the key points to answer your questions, but also maybe point out problems with your cook plan:

    1. Sausage geound Meat should never be held at any twmps between 40f and 130f for a total time over 6 hours. That doesn’t mean heat, cool, heat, cool… if you get meat between 40 to 130f, you need to get it OVER 130F before 6 hrs to achieve a temperature that will kill pathogens. You WILL be growing pathogen bacteria below 130f, the 6 hrs is the max time USFDA says that not too much will grow to get sick.

    2. You need to heat meat for a pathogen lethality treatment BEFORE it is dried. Dehydrating before heat causes bacterial spores to create a shell that will survive even 160f heats. So you should reach a temperature time combo that achieves pathogen lethality from the meat cooking charts BEFORE dehydrating and drying, while meat is still moist.

    3. Cure1 with sodium nitrite is used to kill botulism primarily, which grows great inside a sausage and IS in the air. O2 free environment at 40 to 130f for long periods is where this deadliest poison known to man thrives, so sausage kept below 130f for long times like you gwt in a smoker…or dehydrator…it is defeated by the cure1. Cure1 also has some lethality against other pathogens. The 12 hour refrigerated sit allows NO gas to be generated which is what kills the clostridium botulinum.

    4. Cure1 also has the effect of giving recognizable sausage flavor. You need the 12 hours to cure the meat for that. Using sodium erythorbate or ECA will act as an accelerator to the NO conversion, allowing enough to be produced to cure meat rapidly and skip the 12 hr wait. Otherwise, you need to let meat sit to cure.

    5. Real summer sausage is made by using a lactic acid bacteria culture, and meat is fermented, then dried is a HIGH HUMIDITY environment, 75 to 80% relative humidity. Pathogens are controlled by 3% salt giving low Water Activity Aw, and lactic acid from bacterial fermentation giving reduced pH below 5.3 which combined create hurdles against most pathogens. Sausage is then slowly dried to 40% weight loss to achieve
      low enough Aw for stability.
      5A. Virtually nothing folks talk about here is “real summer sausage” per its original form and recipe or production. Most all is artificially acidified using ECA, and cooked to kill pathogens.

    6. So… I’m not sure why you would dehydrate before oven. You’re kinda setting yourself up to get pathogen growth. If you’re not smoking for flavor, there is zero benefit to dehydrating first. I would cook to kill pathogens, and THEN dehydrate if desired, keeping internal temp above 130f.

    Hope some of that is helpful info towards how you process your stuff, for you or another reader 😉

  • Team Orange

    Dave in AZ I did use sure cure in my mix. I forgot to mention that above. The reason I use the dehydrator is I can start off with a 130*-150* temp which my oven or smoker cannot achieve, then I move the sausage to the oven for the higher temps until 160* internal temp. Thank you for the info.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Power User Arizona Dry Cured Sausage Dry-Cured Expert

    dhg001 great to hear! I was worried you mentioned Sure Gel, but meant Sure Cure 😉

    So long as you’re not trying to actually dehydrate for long periods, sounds like a good plan! Another method lots of folks use who have problems with the lower cook temperatures, is to just toss in water and sous vide it at 130 to 160f. Fast, easy great temp control, and great results!

    Good luck!

  • Team Orange

    Dave in AZ I have looked into sous vide seems interesting. I am looking for a smoker that can get to the temps i want but haven’t found one that I want yet. Thank you again for the info.

  • Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Alabama

    Dave in AZ Good instructions & details Dave. Much more detailed than my more simple explanation of the purpose & getting to the right temps in time. Good job & I know everyone appreciates that.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Power User Arizona Dry Cured Sausage Dry-Cured Expert

    calldoctoday thx much!
    That recent thread of 25 or 50 lbs elk summer sausage getting ruined due to using citric acid instead of encapsulated acid, made me decide to answer a few more posts in detail 😉

  • Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Alabama

    Dave in AZ Yes, that was heartbreaking. However, I am sure he will be able to make some fine chili with it so it is all not completely in vain. Then, there is nothing like learning from experience, you will never forget it, I guarantee.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User Kansas Dry Cured Sausage

    Bunch of good information here from Dave in AZ calldoctoday and others but I would say there are 3 main reasons we want to let the cure sit in the meat overnight.
    1 - safety, specifically (though not limited to) in a vacuum pack. Botulism is a nasty little b****r and it can grow JUST fine in a air-free environment, sure cure prevents it from growing
    2 - flavor preservation
    3 - color development and preservation

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