How to Make Fresh Sausage

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In this article you will discover the "master ratio" for making sausage from scratch and a few easy steps for making your first batch.

Are you interested in processing more of your own meat and figuring out how to grind, cure, and stuff meats?

Does eating and serving sausages, snack sticks, and jerky that you made with your own hands sound like a rewarding adventure?

We believe the place to start is by making a small batch of fresh sausage. First of all, everyone loves sausage, and while it may seem like rocket science at first, you'll quickly find that it's not that hard to do. After a batch or two of sausage, I think you'll be ready to expand on what you've learned and maybe even tackle some cured meats, such as snack sticks and bacon.

The cool thing about this approach is that you don't have to raise your own pigs or commit to breaking down an entire carcass to make your own sausage. In fact, you can start with one pork butt from your local grocery store!

Sound exciting? Let's dig in!

If you've been cooking outdoors, you know how that process works. We take raw cuts of meat, season them with a dry rub, and cook them with a balance of smoke and heat. Making fresh sausage from scratch takes things a step further by grinding the meat before cooking it to a finished internal temperature.

Note: Fresh sausage does not require a cure.

Basic steps for making fresh sausage:

  • Chunk the meat
  • Season the meat
  • Grind the meat with some fat
  • Stuff the sausage or simply form it into patties
  • Cook the sausage

If you've never made sausage before, it may seem intimidating, especially as you taste various sausages from professionals with secret recipes, but once you understand the ratios of meat to fat and how to build a flavor profile with seasonings, you'll have the formula you need for making a delicious homemade sausage.

Did you know we carry a full line of meat processing equipment in our store? Besides the grinders, stuffers, and other equipment and supplies we carry, we also enjoy talking about recipes and helping our customers with their meat processing questions. Call us at (717) 355-0779 or visit us at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, PA, and we'll do our best to help.

The Master Ratio

A good sausage is based on the following ratio of ingredients. 

  • 5 pounds of meat and fat (use 25% fat)
  • 1.5 ounces of salt (use weight instead of volume)
  • Seasonings
  • 1 cup liquid (water or maple syrup)

By using this ratio and the list of ingredients printed on the package, you should be able to reverse engineer your favorite store-bought sausage or create some tasty sausages of your own.

The Meat and the Fat

Two keys to a good sausage are a good quality meat and the right amount of fat.

  • A good rule of thumb is 75% meat to 25% fat. If the meat is too lean, the sausage will be dry.
  • Pork butts are often used to make sausage. Add up to 10% of pork fat for really juicy sausages! Or use a pork loin and add 25% pork fat.
  • It is best to purchase the meat the day you make the sausage. If this is not possible, keep the meat in the fridge for no more than two days before that.
  • When adding fat to sausage, always use pork fat. Pork fat renders at 155–160 degrees F and beef fat renders at 140 degrees.

Need fat? We sell fat for adding to sausage and snack sticks in our retail store at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, Pennsylvania.

The Seasoning

Almost every sausage contains salt and a form of pepper. For breakfast sausage, we add some sage; for Italian, we add fennel or anise; and for kielbasa, we add marjoram, an aromatic spice. Cayenne makes a hot sausage and sugar makes a sweet sausage. Paprika and garlic are also common ingredients.

Here is a basic recipe to get you started:

Fresh Garlic Sausage

  • 5 pounds pork butt
  • 1-1/2 ounces non-iodized salt (Kosher or canning salt)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup liquid (water or red wine)

To make the sausage, debone the pork butt and cut it into chunks small enough to fit into the throat of your grinder. Sprinkle the meat with the seasoning and toss it until the seasoning is evenly distributed. The meat is now ready to grind. After the meat is ground, add the liquid and mix it in.

A note about salt: Never use iodized salt in your sausage. Kosher salt is the perfect kind of salt to use.

Pre-made sausage mixes: In case you'd rather use a store-bought sausage seasoning, we carry a variety of sausage seasoning blends including regular, breakfast, and Italian. Come visit our store at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, Pennsylvania, and we'll be happy to answer your questions and help you choose the seasoning blend that is right for you.

Grinding and Stuffing

  • Sanitation and refrigeration is extremely important when making sausage. Always wash your equipment before using it and keep the meat cold and clean.
  • Cool your grinder, stuffer, and other equipment in a refrigerator to keep the fat from smearing.
  • The grind of the meat influences the texture of the sausage. Use a 3/8" grinder plate and then run it back through with a 1/8".
  • After grinding the sausage, you can either form it into patties for breakfast sausages and grill or fry them immediately or put it into freezer bags for eating later.
  • If you want to make links, at this point the meat is ready for stuffing.

We carry LEM's Big Bite Grinders which are designed to grind meat faster and with less clogging than other similar grinders. Our customers love them because of the professional performance they offer at a hobby-level price point, their warranty, and the manufacturer's customer support. If you're in the market for a grinder, we'd be happy to help you choose a grinder that's right for you. 

We also carry a variety of collagen and natural casings and sausage stuffers in our store. We invite you to come visit us during store hours and check out our full line of meat processing equipment!

Browse some of our meat processing supplies and equipment here.

There is a lot more that could be said about making sausage, stuffing, choosing casings, etc, but my goal in this article was to show you how easy it is to make your first batch of sausage. I hope you've been inspired to dive in and make some sausage. ​

If you have any questions that are not covered here, please call us at 717-355-0779 or come visit us and we'd be happy to help you in any way we can.

Cooking

  • We recommend cooking sausage to a minimum of 160 degrees to be safe, but pork fat renders at 155–160 degrees F so don't take the internal temperature higher than that or the fat will render out and the sausage will become dry.
  • Sausage patties are usually cooked over direct heat on a grill or in a frying pan. Links can be grilled over direct heat or cooked in a smoker, but low temperatures tend to make the casings tough so we prefer cooking them at a minimum of 275 degrees. Loose sausage can also be formed into a loaf and smoked, then sliced and served on sandwiches.

Did you know we carry a full line of meat processing equipment in our store? Besides the grinders, stuffers, and other equipment and supplies we carry, we also enjoy talking about recipes and helping our customers with their meat processing questions. Call us at (717) 355-0779 or visit us at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, PA, and we'll do our best to help.


​About the author: Lavern Gingerich is a writer and the digital marketing manager for Meadow Creek Barbecue Supply​.

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