Sausage making is a very old procedure, probably dating back to the time of the Caveman. Sausage making is not only a popular way to cook beef or pork it’s also a good way to eat ham or other types of cured meats without ham hocks or bacon peeking out from under the pot. The origins of sausage making are lost in the mists of time but probably started when early humans started to realize the nutritional value of salt.
To make sausage, a simple sauce of vegetables such as onions and peppers is mixed into a crude sausage meat mix, called brine, which is then cooked in a large vat of water for hours in a slow oven. The mixture is drained while it is hot, then the mixture is transferred to a large, wooden or metal bowl to cool. In this final resting phase the meat is seasoned with salt, moistened with water and left to dry in the sun. This drying stage gives sausage making the name, as it is the final preparation before the actual cooking. The longer the meat dries the more flavor there will be in the resulting mixture.
So where does someone get started?
The most obvious place to start making sausage is at home, in the kitchen of a friend or family member. If you do not have someone to teach you, perhaps your local Wal-Mart or sporting goods store will sell equipment for sausage making. However, if you have never made sausage before it may be easier to purchase the necessary supplies online. There are many different vendors online that specialize in a variety of products including sausage making kits and recipes.
If you go to a market such as a farmers market during the fall months you will find the market full of equipment and ingredients for sausage making. Check the local classifieds to find items such as casing and other equipment for sausage making. Most often than not you will be able to find the necessary ingredients for your first batch of sausage at a local market. When shopping for casing, however, keep in mind the type of meat you are making, because different spices work better with different types of meats.
When making sausages, the casing you use comes in two different varieties: pork rind and beef fat. Pork rind is considered the best kind of casing for sausage making, but if you are new to sausage making you may want to experiment with using beef fat. It is cheaper than pork rind and is more forgiving of less than perfect cuts of meat. You can also find casing that is flavored with fruit, garlic or any type of herbs, but it is not recommended that you use these additives unless you have an expert to make suggestions for you.
Other than pork rind or beef fat, the other main ingredient for sausage is usually onions, green peppers or both. These spices are added for flavor and aroma and make sausage soaks up the juices from the ingredients really well. There are two more main ingredients that make sausage: the spices and the liquids, which are the milk and flour. Other additions may include salt, pepper, celery and onion powder, thyme, oregano, bacon drippings, bay leaves and baking soda. As you can see, sausage making is a pretty involved process that involves plenty of time, but it is definitely well worth the effort.