Do You Need to Cook Summer Sausage?

Summer sausage is a delightful treat to have during the holidays, boasting convenience, a long shelf life, and a scrumptious taste. 

This sausage is considered cured and smoked, which preserves the meat and inhibits bacterial growth. This prompts the question, “Do you need to cook summer sausage?”

If you’ve purchased this treat from a store or local butcher shop, you don’t need to do any extra preparation or cooking. Simply slice it up and serve it as is. It’s perfect for entertaining guests at your next dinner party, or for a cozy night in with loved ones.

If the summer sausage is homemade, the situation is different. In this case, it may be necessary to process the food before consumption. This may involve heating the sausage to a certain temperature or smoking it for a specific amount of time.

In this article, I will delve deeper into the topic of summer sausage cooking and smoking.


Do You Need To Cook Summer Sausage?

Summer sausage is a type of sausage that is traditionally cured, dried, and smoked, making it unsuitable for bacterial growth. 

This preservation process was developed centuries ago when refrigeration didn’t exist, and people needed a way to store meat for long periods.

Today, modern summer sausage is processed similarly but often includes other curing agents and flavor enhancers to shorten the smoking process and make it suitable for immediate consumption. 

If you buy summer sausage from a store, there’s no need to cook it. It can be eaten directly, added to other dishes as a meat supplement or alternative, or grilled for added flavor.

Similarly, homemade summer sausage is also smoked and prepared, eliminating the need for cooking. However, the different preparation processes make homemade sausage ideal for grilling or mixing into other dishes. 

If you choose to grill your summer sausage, be sure to remove the collagen casing as it doesn’t fare well in high heat.

When paired with other foods, summer sausage can pass on its flavors to the rest of the dish, making it a versatile addition to any meal. 

Summer sausage is a convenient and tasty option that can be stored for years if adequately prepared, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a long-term storage solution for leftover meat.

What is the Optimal Smoking Temperature for Summer Sausage?

The process of smoking summer sausages is crucial to both enhance flavor and kill bacteria after they have been cured and filled in casings.

The temperature for smoking summer sausages may vary depending on the cooking method used. 

When cooking in the oven, the temperature should be preheated to 185°F, but it can also be set higher at 225°F or 250°F. 

After taking the cured sausages out of the fridge, leave them at room temperature, and use an inner meat thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. The goal is to reach 165°F, then remove the sausages from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

When using a smoker, set the temperature to 145°F, and remember to open the dampers. After one hour, increase the temperature to 180°F, add more wood pellets, and wait for two to three hours until the sausages are fully smoked. 

Pour water into the smoker and turn the temperature to 190°F until the inner heat reaches approximately 160°F. 

Once done, allow the sausages to cool before storing them in the fridge or freezer.

Smoking Time for Perfectly Flavored Summer Sausage

To smoke summer sausage, the duration can vary depending on multiple factors like the type of meat, spices, and casings used for preparation, as well as the curing process. 

It is essential to ensure that the summer sausage is at room temperature before putting it into the smoker or oven because smoking it right from the fridge will increase the cooking time.

When using an oven for smoking the sausages, it typically takes several hours to complete the process, but relying on time alone to gauge doneness is not recommended. 

Instead, use an internal meat thermometer to ensure that the sausages are cooked through, with the ideal temperature being around 165°F for oven-baked sausages.

The baking time will vary based on the oven’s temperature, and setting the oven temperature higher will not necessarily result in a better product. 

For instance, at 220°F, the baking time is usually four to six hours, depending on the oven type. However, if you set the oven at the recommended minimum temperature of 185°F, it will take longer for the sausages to dry and smoke completely.

When using an electric smoker, the duration required will depend on the smoker’s temperature and the type of wood used for smoking. 

Typically, it takes six to eight hours from the moment you turn the smoker on, and you should gradually increase the smoker’s heat to ensure that the sausages reach the appropriate internal temperature.

Mastering the Art of Cooking Summer Sausage

If you want to enhance the taste of summer sausage, there are various ways to cook it. 

One option is to cook it on the stove, which is a healthy way of cooking without using oil. 

To do so, place the sausage in a pot, add cold water to cover it, and cook over medium heat. Wait for 8 to 10 minutes until they are cooked thoroughly, and then let the liquid evaporate.

Another option is to cook summer sausages in the oven, which is much simpler. 

Preheat the oven to 375 ℉, place the sausage on a baking sheet, and bake for around 15 minutes, flipping halfway through baking. You can also drizzle the sausage with butter or oil to prevent it from drying out.

If you prefer to fry summer sausages, it’s essential to use a non-stick pan and fry them at a low or medium temperature. 

The frying time should be from 15 to 18 minutes, and it’s essential to flip them regularly to ensure they are evenly cooked. Before frying, it’s recommended to check the casings of the sausages. 

Different casings may be made of different materials like collagen, animal intestines, or even plastic. Some materials may not respond well to extreme temperatures, putting the quality in danger. 

Therefore, it’s better to remove collagen casings since they are thick and challenging to chew.

Guide to Storing Summer Sausage

If you want to keep your summer sausage fresh and delicious, the best way is to store it in the refrigerator. You can store it for up to three months, but if you need to store it for a longer time, you can freeze it for up to 10 months. 

When storing summer sausages, it is important to wrap them tightly in freezer paper, making sure the glossy side of the paper is facing up.

Then, place the sausages in the center of the paper and fold them over, sealing the edges with freezer tape. Don’t forget to label the package properly so you know what’s inside and when you stored it. 

With these steps, your summer sausages will stay fresh and tasty for a long time.


Selecting the Right Casing for Summer Sausage

If you want to make the perfect summer sausage, you need to pay attention to the size of the casing you use.

The best casings for summer sausage are inedible fibrous, smoked, or collagen casings. For optimal results, it’s recommended to use a 2″ or 2.5″ casing. If you want a thicker sausage, you can use a 4″ casing, but keep in mind that the wider the sausage, the less evenly it will cook.

On the other hand, if you prefer smaller serving sizes, you can use 1″ casings to make it more suitable for serving with crackers. Remember to soak the casings in water for at least 30 minutes before stuffing them with the cured meat to ensure they are pliable and easy to work with.

Choosing the Right Stuffing Tube Size for Summer Sausage

The 19mm diameter (3/4”) stuffing tube is the most common size used for summer sausage and is suitable for any casings wider than 1”. To achieve the best results, the tube should be around 40% smaller than the casing. 

However, filling the sausage casing requires delicate handling and skillful technique, with one hand on the sausage and the other on the filling horn. For better control, it’s recommended to have someone else crank the filling to prevent air pockets from forming. 

It’s worth noting that if the sausage inflates after being refrigerated, it’s likely that something inside is producing gas, making it unsuitable for consumption. 

Smaller air bubbles in the summer sausage are acceptable after smoking, and the casing will expand a bit, redistributing the air.

How Safe is Summer Sausage for Consumption?

It is safe to consume summer sausage. Nevertheless, it is advisable to inspect the packaging and contents of the sausage. Summer sausage is typically served alongside wine and cheese or fries.

Can You Savoring Summer Sausage without Heating?

Summer sausage can be consumed cold, but make sure it is the type that is meant to be eaten without further cooking. To enjoy the best experience, you can pair it with a hot drink like a cup of coffee.

Final Thoughts

After reading this article, you should have a clear answer to the question: Do you need to cook summer sausage? The good news is, you can eat summer sausage right away after buying it from the store. 

However, if you want to enhance the flavor, you can opt to cook it.

I hope you found this post informative and useful. Thank you for taking the time to read it!

Categories Sausage

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