Sausage Making 101

It’s one of the best ways to introduce family and friends to wild game and by far the best way to turn meat in the freezer into an inspiring meal. Follow along to learn about making delicious, fresh sausage.

Good starts with good.

The higher quality of meat you use, the better your sausage will be. That said, this is the time to use tougher cuts like shoulders and neck. Wild game is lean, so you must add fat or your sausage will be dry. Aim for at least 30% ground pork fat (ground pork or beef works too). You can buy excellent sausage seasoning kits, or experiment and blend your own.

Keep it cold.

Keep your ground meat and equipment like bowls, grinder blades and funnels cold. Too warm, and the proteins and fats separate—your sausage won’t bind properly. If something is sitting on the counter for more than a few minutes, back in the freezer or fridge it goes. Space at a premium? Keep your bowls of meat and equipment on ice in a cooler or Rubbermaid container.

The grind.

Fresh sausages typically turn out best with a fine to medium grind. A coarse grind creates larger chunks and can cause cooked sausages to crumble when you cut them.

A hand grinder works well for smaller amounts of meat, or ask your butcher to grind your wild game together with pork you may be purchasing. If you process your own animals, it’s worth investing in an electric or commercial-grade meat grinder with stuffing accessories.

The casings.

Sausage casings are either natural or collagen, and come in a variety of sizes. Hog casings, 28-32 mm in size, are ideal for fresh sausages and make the perfect-sized link. Use 22-24 mm lamb or collagen casings for smaller breakfast sausages.

Most meat grinders come with a couple of different sized funnels for stuffing sausage. If you make a lot of sausage, consider buying an upright, hand-crank sausage press. You’ll never look back.

No press? No problem!

If you don’t have a sausage press or a grinder with a stuffer, you can put sausage meat into burger bags for freezing. When you’re ready to use, partially thaw and slice the meat into ¼- to ½-inch patties to fry up. Or, thaw the meat completely and form into meatballs.

No burger bags? No problem!

Wrap your sausage meat with butcher paper, making sure it’s airtight, and freeze. When you’re ready to use, simply thaw and form into handmade patties or meatballs.

Back into the freezer.

A couple hours of sausage making fills your freezer with quick-to-prepare meals for months to come. Make your frozen sausage last—wrap in butcher paper or vacuum pack meal-sized portions. You can use Ziploc or sealable bags, but make you get all the air out to prevent freezer burn.

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