If you’re looking to elevate your charcuterie game and impress your guests, homemade summer sausage is a great addition.
However, to ensure that your summer sausage is a hit, it needs to be properly cured.
In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about curing summer sausage, from the importance of curing to the step-by-step process.
Table of Contents
Why is Curing Important? Does Summer Sausage Need to Cure?
One of the key reasons why curing is important is that it removes moisture from the meat. This is achieved by introducing nitrates or nitrites into the meat, which help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause spoilage.
The curing process also helps to improve the texture of the sausage, making it firmer and giving it a satisfying chewiness.
Another important reason why curing is necessary is that it helps to enhance the flavor of the sausage. During the curing process, the meat absorbs the spices and seasonings, resulting in a more complex and intense flavor.
The use of curing salt, also known as Prague Powder #1, adds a distinctive tangy flavor to the sausage that is essential to its characteristic taste.
In addition to improving the safety, texture, and flavor of the sausage, curing also helps to extend its shelf life. Cured sausage can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for several months, allowing you to enjoy it long after it has been made.
Overall, curing is an essential step in making summer sausage that cannot be skipped. By taking the time to properly cure your sausage, you can ensure that it is safe, delicious, and has a satisfying texture that your guests will love.
How to Cure Summer Sausage?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to cure summer sausage:
Choose the meat: Select meat with at least 30% fat content, such as pork or beef. If you are using leaner meat, add pork or beef fat to achieve the ideal fat content. Non-fat dry milk can also be added to prevent the clumping of fat.
Add seasonings: Mix in the desired seasonings such as mustard seed, ground pepper, cayenne, chili, garlic, thyme, and cloves to add flavor to your summer sausage. Cheese can also be added if desired.
Add curing salt: Add the appropriate amount of curing salt, also known as Prague Powder #1, to the mixture.
Mix thoroughly: Mix the meat mixture thoroughly until it becomes sticky. Use your hands to achieve the best mixing.
Refrigerate: Put the meat mixture in a bowl or freezer bag and refrigerate to start the curing process. The curing time depends on the size of the sausage, but generally takes around 24-48 hours.
Stuff the sausage: Once the meat is cured, stuff it into sausage casings.
Cook the sausage: Smoke the sausage in a smoker or grill at a temperature between 110°F and 130°F until the desired color is achieved. Then gradually increase the temperature to 150-170°F. After a while, increase the temperature to 190°F, but never go higher than that.
If you don’t have a smoker or grill, you can bake the sausage in the oven at a temperature of 170°F to 190°F.
Dry the sausage: Let the sausage dry for several days to a week, then slice and serve.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your summer sausage is properly cured and has the ideal flavor and texture.
Best Curing Salt for Summer Sausage
When it comes to making summer sausage, choosing the right curing salt is crucial.
Curing salt is a blend of table salt, sodium nitrite (NaNO2), and sodium nitrate (NaNO3). You can buy pre-mixed curing salts, which is the easiest and safest option.
For summer sausage, you need to use Curing Salt #1, also known as Prague Powder #1, Insta Cure #1, or pink curing salt. This type of curing salt is perfect for short-term cures, and it’s commonly used for semi-dry meats and sausages like summer sausage.
On the other hand, Curing Salt #2, also known as Prague Powder #2 or Insta Cure #2, is used for cures that take weeks or even months. This type of curing salt is not suitable for sausages.
Remember that curing salt for sausages should not be confused with pink Himalayan salt. While both have a pink hue, pink Himalayan salt is not a curing salt and should not be used in the curing process.
How Much Cure to Use for Summer Sausage?
As a rule of thumb, for measuring the amount of curing salt you’ll need for summer sausage, one pound of meat will require one tablespoon of curing salt.
While some experienced sausage makers may not need to measure everything precisely, it’s recommended that novice makers measure the curing salt to ensure the meat is properly cured.
Using too little curing salt can result in spoiled meat while using too much can be harmful to your health. So, Follow the correct ratio to achieve the best results.
If your summer sausage doesn’t taste right after it’s been cured, it’s best to avoid consuming it.
Tips for Successful Curing
- Follow the recipe: Curing is a delicate process, and even a small mistake can ruin your batch of summer sausage. Follow the recipe and instructions closely to ensure your sausage turns out correctly.
- Measure everything precisely: Accurate measurement of meat, seasonings, and curing salt is vital for successful curing. Use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients precisely.
- Don’t rush the curing process: Summer sausage needs time to cure correctly. Don’t rush the process or try to cut corners, or it will affect the texture and flavor of your sausage.
- Use quality meat: Start with fresh, high-quality meat for your sausage. Poor quality meat can cause issues with the curing process and affect the flavor of the sausage.
- Use a meat thermometer: Monitor the temperature of your sausage while cooking to prevent overcooking and to ensure the meat reaches a safe temperature.
Making summer sausage is a fun and rewarding activity, but it requires patience and precision.
Curing is an essential step in the process that ensures the safety and deliciousness of your homemade sausage.
By following the step-by-step instructions and tips outlined in this article, you can create a safe and flavorful summer sausage that will be a hit at any gathering.