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Fresh sausage coming out too dry

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 01:59
by eightysixCJ
Hello all,

A couple of batches of fresh pork Italian and venison sausage came out a bit on the dry side. I carefully cooked them in a pan over medium-low flame until they were 150 degrees. I used a mixture of 70% lean and 30% fat. For the pork sausage I start with whole shoulder with the bone and skin on. I trim the skin saving as much fat as possible, then trim off the fat and put it to the side. I bone and cut up the rest and weigh it as lean then weigh out the fat (adding more if needed) and add to make the 70/30 mix. The meat and fat are kept very cold and I'm pretty sure I'm getting a good grind and mix before stuffing.

The flavor and mixing consistency has been very good but the moisture has not been consistent. Will adding more fat, 35-40% by weight, make the final product more juicy? Any other tips on my method will be appreciated.



Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 02:44
by ssorllih
Are you including the venison in the weight of lean meat? Venison is very lean and most pork shoulder is not much more than 30% fat. What is your pork to venison ratio?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 03:11
by eightysixCJ
ssorllih wrote:Are you including the venison in the weight of lean meat? Venison is very lean and most pork shoulder is not much more than 30% fat. What is your pork to venison ratio?
For the venison sausage (venison with pork fat) I counted all the venison as lean then I added pork fat to make a 70/30 mix. For the all pork sausage, after separating the fat I had to add a few more ounces of fat to bring the ratio up to 70/30.


Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 03:29
by ssorllih
Were both sausage mixtures dry? Or just the venison?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 03:37
by eightysixCJ
ssorllih wrote:Were both sausage mixtures dry? Or just the venison?
Yes, both mixtures came out dry. Not unbearably dry but dryer than they should be.

Both had wine in the recipe, red in the venison and white in the pork. Would that affect dryness or how much fat is needed?


Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 03:58
by ssorllih
Somebody step up here. I don't waste wine by putting it in sausage. I add the wine at the table. :lol:

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 05:33
by Chuckwagon
Hi Tom,
How about posting the recipe for us to look at? We need to know exactly how much venison, how much pork, and how much fat you used in the bind. Also it would help to know about the use of any binders and how much salt was in the recipe.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 13:08
by Big Guy
We need to see the whole recipe and the raw weights of the meats and fat, it could be as simple as a math error. 30% fat should make a nice sausage. Ive had people add 30% pork shoulder to venison sausage, and it comes out dry. as in actual anaysis they only had 7.5% fat in the sausage.

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 14:17
by Baconologist
Did you grind the fat and meat separately?
How many grinds? What size plate?
Was there much fat in the pan after cooking?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 14:26
by tooth
When a recipe calls for x% of fat, I personally usually go with fat back, not the fat I've removed from the shoulder. I treat that all as shoulder meat, even if it is pretty fatty and then add additional fat back. But then again, your post reads like there was a good amount of fat under the skin on the shoulder.

I remember reading a post about how even very small amounts of wine if not mixed in properly can ruin a sausage, fast. Maybe there's a problem in that?

Even in recipes that don't call for additional fat, just pork shoulder, I've never had turn out dry.

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 01:23
by eightysixCJ
Ah. Good point, here is some more info;

Looking at it again I see I somehow messed up the math on the venison. Glad I took the time to keep records.

4.5# venison
1.5# pork fat from shoulder
52gm kosher salt
6.8gm c/s bay leaf
37.5gm granulated garlic
15gm black pepper
9gm celery seed
150ml dry red wine (cold)

The venison and fat were diced small a day before and chilled to about 35 degrees. The fat was put in the freezer about 40 minutes before grinding.

Fat was visually evenly distributed in the venison and ground together through a 4.5mm #22 plate with a 1hp Lem grinder.

spices and wine were added and thoroughly mixed by hand a few minutes (until sticky) then stuffed in 30mm hog casings.

the pork Italian sausage:

4# pork shoulder
2# pork fat from shoulder
12gm cracked fennel
10.5gm kosher salt
20gm granulated garlic
2.8gm rubbed sage
9gm grated pecorino romano cheese
1.6gm dry parsley
10.2gm black pepper
250ml dry white wine

I cut up and diced the shoulder and fat separating the fat a day prior and chilled to around 35 degrees.

The fat was put in the freezer about 30 minutes before grinding.

Fat and lean visually evenly mixed in the tray and ground together using a 10mm #22 plate, 1hp Lem grinder.

spices and wine were added and mixed thoroughly by hand for a few minutes (until sticky) then stuffed in 30mm hog casings.

I separated the fat layer from the shoulder meat. Should the lean and fat layer in a shoulder be considered together as the lean and add 20-30% more fatback?

I'm not getting any fat left in the pan to speak of. I use a bit of olive oil and garlic in the pan before adding the sausage.

Thanks all for your help,


Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 02:41
by uwanna61
When I make a fresh sausage using any lean game meat:
1. I will use a ratio of 50% game meat with 20% pork and 30 pork fat.
2. Typically I will add ¼ - 1/3 cup of liquid to every 2.5lbs of meat, example water, beef, chicken or veggie stock. A splash of water will help out with the dry sausage during the mix. I would not recommend substituting all wine in the place of the water due to it will over power the sausage.

Hop over to and scan through the fresh sausage recipes and I believe this will answer all, if not most of your question.
Hope this helps


Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 07:02
by Chuckwagon
Hi Tom,
How are your boys? (Three of them if I remember correctly).
Would you mind if I threw my 2 cents worth in here? Let me just leave you with a quotation from our buddy Stan Marianski. He stated:

"As game meat contains very little fat to begin with, it is understood that smoking and cooking will produce a very dry product. The solution is to lace meat with pork back fat, add pork fat into sausages [larding], cover smaller meat pieces with bacon strips [barding], or baste meat with marinade often. All meats will benefit from applying wet cure. The brine will not only tenderize the meat but will also remove any unpleasant gamey odors."

I agree wholeheartedly with Uwanna in advising you to add 20% pork and even 30% pork fatback. The wine in alcohol uravels proteins like crazy. To tell you the truth, wine doesn't really add all that much noticeable flavor to sausage in the first place. Your addition of 150 ml. is about 5-1/2 fluid ounces and that is plenty in a six pound batch of sausage. If you add more moisture, try adding some chicken stock - just enough to make a thick, meat paste when mixed. When pulled apart, you should see peaks form. Good luck pal, and please let us know how the next batch turns out.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 10:52
by Bubba
Hi eightysixCJ,

My 1 cents worth: last year I made a small batch of venison sausage and used the same ratio of fat as you did, also added (as Uwanna and CW said) 20% pork.
I always prefer using Boston Butt for sausage. The sausage was juicy.

Somewhere around the beginning of this year we also had a lengthy and very interesting topic about adding wine (and other alcohol) to sausage, I never add wine.

This morning I'm sitting in a hotelroom overlooking the beautiful Tennessee river and have to continue my business trip shortly, if you can't find the topic I'll look for it tonight. :smile:

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 19:42
by Butterbean
I process a fair amount of deer and when making sausages I view 30% is the minimum and even at that I personally don't like the way they turn out. If I'm doing venison by itself, I'll up this percentage to around 40% if I'm using straight fat. Some people like the more grainy texture but I don't. I prefer to view the venision as a filler and use a 50/50 mix with the shoulder. When done this way, most everyone is pleased even those like myself that don't really like deer meat.

Oh, and as was pointed out - you gotta mix venision really good.

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