Cured Sausage (What is it?) - Cured Sausage 101
Cured Sausage (What is it?)
What Is Cured Sausage?
Cured Sausage is made like traditional sausage; it is ground, seasoned, and then stuffed into a casing for cooking. The difference is that cured sausage has a few extra steps; it has either nitrate or nitrites added to it to allow it to be smoked or slow cured. Cured Sausage covers a wide variety of meat snacks, everything from Snack Sticks and Summer Sausage to Bologna, Salami, and even a Hot Dog is also technically a Cured Sausage.
Sausage can be made from almost any meat. Pork is the most common as it is readily available and relatively inexpensive, but beef is also fairly common, and chicken sausage is also becoming much more common and commercially available. Regardless of what meat block is being used, at least an 80/20 fat ratio is standard, but we like 70/30, and some even go closer to 50/50.
This means if a leaner wild game such as venison is being used, the correct amount of pork fat will need to be added, or the finished product will be less flavorful and overly dry. The best time to add this pork fat is during the second grind so it can mix in well with the lean meat.
What Does Sure Cure Do?
The cure that is used when wanting to keep a product safe through the smoking process contains sodium nitrite, also known as Sure Cure, Cure #1, or Prague Powder. The salt and cure block the growth of botulism spores, impart a cured flavor, and are responsible for converting the meat from a greyish color (before thermal processing) to a nice pinkish red color. Meat cured with salt alone will not have the same color, as the nitrites help burn that nice red color into the meat and then set it there during the thermal processing stage.
Cured Sausage will have a smooth interior texture with a small particle size. This happens because we need to achieve protein extraction, and we have to grind it twice, first through a larger plate like a 3/16" and then a smaller plate like a 1/8". Then we will need to mix this until the protein begins to extract from the meat and bind together. All of this extra working of the meat will create a very fine texture.
Cured Sausage covers such a wide variety of Sausages, from Snack Sticks to Summer Sausage, that many different casings will be used, including Fibrous (Summer sausage), Collagen (Snack Sticks and Larger), Natural (Snack Sticks and Larger), and even Cellulose Casings (Skinless Hotdogs).
The cooking or smoking schedules for Cured Sausage will generally be more complicated than for fresh sausage. Since we have added a cure to the meat, we are able to cook it at lower initial temperatures as the cure will keep the meat safe through this process. Cured Sausage can be cooked on a grill, in a smoker, in an oven, or even on a stovetop if desired.
Depending on the pH and the Water Activity of your meat, you very well might have a shelf-stable product. However, since you probably do not have a way to test either of these at home, you should keep these items in a refrigerator or vacuum pack them and put them in a freezer.
Jonathon he salt and cure block the growth of botulism spores, impart a cured flavor and are responsible for( burning) the meat a nice pinkish red color. Meat cured with salt alone will not have the same color, as the nitrites help( burn )that nice red color into the meat and then set it there during the thermal processing stage. Should be turning not burning.
D R Baron Burning is the vernacular for this, however, obviously, it isn’t known as well as I thought it was! I will get something in there to make it more clear. We occasionally run into this problem where we think the terms we use in house are more common than they really are. Thanks for pointing it out!