The harsh reality living on the land is that not everything goes to plan, even despite your best efforts.
If you are reading this post, it is important to remind you that our animals have a very good life and when it comes time to prepare them for the freezer, it is done humanely and they are treated with respect.
A couple of months ago I noticed that our intended breeding sow, Little Girl, seemed to be favouring her back left leg. It caused some concern at the time, however, after a few days it appeared that she had recovered. Two weeks ago, however, the limp was back and within a few days, she was unable to get up. Mr D kept her comfortable until the end.
The decision to prepare her for the freezer was not an easy one, I can assure you of that, and many tears were shed. She really was a gentle giant. Mr D made a phone call to the vet who confirmed there was nothing we could do for her. At first it was thought she had a condition called OCD (Osteochondrosis) however the butcher discovered that she had a broken hip. The two conditions may have been related.
Anyway, as a result of her condition and having to euthanise her, we ended up with a lot of pork as Little Girl weighed in excess of 200 kgs.
Apart from the usual cuts of meat, a friend suggested we have a go at making sausages. With this in mind, we made sure that the butcher boned out several large pieces to put through the meat mincer.
If you are considering making sausages, it would be fair to let you know that it is not a five minute job, unless you’re a butcher of course. The whole process took the best part of two days, with two of us preparing the meat and it’s seasonings on the first day, and then four of us making the actual sausages on the second day; bearing in mind that we were using a domestic grade meat mincer.
Let’s start at the beginning…
By way of preparing the meat for mincing, my friend Ally and I trimmed any excess fat and then put it through the grinder. With 16 kgs of pork mince, our plan was to have plain mince as well as flavoured however, in our excitement, we ended up seasoning the whole lot. Whoops! The mince was then split into four batches and the flavours created were Hmong, Sweet Italian, Polish Kielbasa and Herbed. All of the recipes can be found at honest-food.net under the Charcuterie label.
On the day…
The first order of the day was to taste our pork mince and it’s seasonings just to make sure we didn’t need to add anything. Unfortunately, the saltiness was obvious however, once it’s added, there’s no taking it back (we know for next time). The salt didn’t detract from the flavour however it was prominent.
When setting up your work space, some things that are handy when you are making sausages include scissors (for cutting the casings), jugs of water (to keep the casing on the nozzle moist), gloves and plenty of fridge space.
We began by threading the casing onto the nozzle. The process worked much better if we didn’t do large quantities at once although it meant threading more often. The reason for this is that we found that the casings dried out on the nozzle fairly quickly making it more difficult to feed off as the pork mixture filled the casing.
The mixture needed to be pushed into the machine at a consistent and, what I would call, urgent rate. It was discovered that less mince on the feeding tray worked better as it gave more room to manipulate it. We certainly got a work out pushing the mixture down the chute.
When the mixture started to fill the casing (we were using thick sausage casings), it was important to allow the casing to fill without letting it overfill. This is the part that is hard to describe as it’s a case (no pun intended) of ‘you had to be there’, however we all know what a thick sausage looks like. It also helped to have someone taking the weight of the sausage as the casing filled and became longer. This reduced the chance of blow outs (where the casing splits and mince starts pouring out) and I think, in the end, we only had three blow outs.
Tying the knots in the sausage was much easier with dry hands. To start, only one end was tied. This allowed us to pinch and twist for each sausage and push the mixture along (if required) in the casing to produce a more even product. By the 10th kilo of sausage making, we probably had this down pat. The second person assisting in this part of the process helped to stop the sausage twisting around itself which hindered the pinching and twisting process.
After we’d finished making the sausages, the only other important thing left to do, apart from cleaning up our mess, was to barbecue some for lunch. So, with Barry the Jack Russell supervising, we enjoyed delicious home made pork sausages.
Thank you to Georg and Ally for your help.
Happy sausage making!
Mrs D x
Some things to note:
Most of the recipes researched had, roughly, a 4:1 ratio of meat to fat, the above recipes included. We actually reduced the amount of fat and were happy with the result.
Having now made the sausages, I would halve the salt in the recipes next time.
A lot of the research suggested semi-freezing the meat to make it easier to put through the grinder. I imagine that the fat content, if following the recipes to the letter, would have complicated the grinding process as the mixture warmed up, however, the meat with less fat, at fridge temperature, moved through the mincer with relative ease. I also had a problem with semi-freezing, defrosting (as would naturally happen) and then re-freezing.
The sausage casings were purchased from the local butcher. They had already been pre-soaked in water.
Most of the herbs were fresh out of the garden. Unfortunately, our garlic was not quite ready to pick and we used a lot of garlic.
On sausage making day, we were grateful for four sets of hands. Two and even three sets were not quite enough. Obviously you are dealing with a raw and perishable product, so you want to move fairly quickly. With the help of our good friends Georg and Ally, once we got the hang of what we were doing, we were a lean mean sausage making machine.
Allow the mince and it’s seasonings to sit in the fridge for two to three days. Oh the smell….just glorious. This is okay with very fresh pork mince which we were using.
We have since invested in a gas powered smoker to try smoking the sausages. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
Lastly, be prepared to laugh a lot. Once you start threading those sausage casings onto the nozzle (I hear snickering already), the conversation goes downhill really quickly.