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Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 00:26
by markjass
Been very busy on other projects. Now I can catch up on some reading and sausage making. Just got a costing on sheep casings. For a net which is two hanks they are NZ$158 (US$ 132) for 19mm and NZ$168 (US#140) for 24 mm. Pork casings are a 1/4 of the price. Gonna have to think that over. I was given some 10.67mm collagen casings, which I may use insted for the breakfast sausages. I have not used these before.

I managed to get the pork liver which was amazing.


Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 04:00
by redzed
Hmm, 10.67 mm collagen casings. How the heck are you going to stuff something the diameter of a pencil? :grin:

Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 05:47
by ottothecow
Made the onion sausage today.

I only have a 3/16 plate, so that is what I used. I will look into ordering a 3/8 and 1/8 unless you guys recommend something else (and should I be buying a blade to pair with each plate?)

I started with a bone in pork shoulder that was 3.something lbs. I wasn't sure it had enough fat on it but I think it turned out ok.

That left me with 1200g of pork. Cubed it for the grind and then let it sit in the freezer for a bit. Even though I was grinding everything with the same 3/16 plate, I figured I would separate out the fattiest parts and leave them in the freezer until I was done with the meaty bits so they would be more frozen.

While that was cooling, I measured out my spices. I think I need to get a better gram scale. My scale seems to do ok with things starting from the 10-15g range, but measuring out 2-3 grams from the tare doesn't work just sticks at zero for a long time and as such I think I have too much thyme and pepper. Next time I won't zero it out since it seems to do better with small amounts when it isn't at zero.

Pulled the grinder out of the freezer, mounted it to my board, and started grinding:

Ground through all of the meat and sent it back into the fridge:

Diced up an this a bit too big? Any smaller and usually I would look to a smaller onion or a shallot so that the individual layers are thinner.
Sauteed them up:

Mixed it all together and am letting it sit overnight. Will try some pasta sauce tomorrow and vac pack and freeze the rest.

Sorry about the photos. Lighting wasn't great and I was using my phone since it is easier to wipe clean (no buttons to get grease stuck in).

Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 13:40
by sambal badjak
Nice write up Otto!

I tried my hands on breakfast sausages.

I defrosted a pork shoulder (pork roast)

and proceeded cutting it by knife in small pieces, the fat a bit smaller than the meaty bits
This takes longer than it took my 2 jack russell's to finish the bones, but shorter than Santana's supernatural CD

I ended up with close to 1.5 kg meat and fat and adjusted the spices accordingly.

I then added the spices and water, mixed it all very well (till all the water was incorporated) and left it in the fridge overnight.
The mixture has a bit more ginger in it than according to the recipe as my teaspoons are apparently a lot heavier than CW's

This morning I soaked the casings and found out what I expected:
With my current set up I cannot use sheep's casing. They are just too small!
My set-up

As explained in an earlier post: I mince straight into the casings (lack of equipment).
At least I managed to make decent sausages out of it, even though they are not all the same size.
I pinched the casing wherever I wanted to twist it and managed to break not a single sausage!
The end result:

They are now laying resting in the fridge and I'll fry some tomorrow and will freeze the other ones.

Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 22:10
by markjass
Gosh that looks like hard work. I do not know that I would be that dedicated.


Posted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 04:37
by Chuckwagon
Excellent! Nice going... BOTH of you. Very good photos and details too. I am impressed. The frozen grinder looks beautiful. Sambal, did you discover that the meat is easier to handle while it is still very cold (nearly frozen)? Your links look good. Remember to pierce the sausages with a needle to get out any air pockets. Otto, your sausage looks very nice. A 3/8" plate would be very nice. I wouldn't bother with the 1/8" plate. When you get that small, it's just about emulsified anyway. Lots of people would rather spend their money on a 1/2" plate if they can find one. It makes an interesting texture. Lookin' good folks! Keep up the good work and let us know how the "taste test" goes.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 07:09
by sambal badjak
Thanks guys,
The cutting by hand is not too bad. It helps to have good sharp knives!
I fried up a couple of sausages yesterday for bar snacks and they are pretty tasty.
Thanks for the tip about pricking them with a needle!

And yes, it is definitely a lot easier to cut the meat when it is cold, esp with tropical ambient temperatures!

Posted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:01
by markjass
Learned and re-learned lots today.

I made a kg of the breakfast sausages today. As I had collagen casings on hand and the lamb casings were so expensive decided to try the collagen casings. I only have two stuffing horns one which was to big and the other, which I thought was good, was too small. I had a real problem with the stuffing. My set up could not cope very well. If my mixer had a smaller motor it may well have burned out with the effort. If I go down this isle with such a small diameter stuffing horn I would have to add a lot more liquid to the sausage mix. In the end I gave up and cut the end off a plastic funnel that has been unused and hand stuffed the sausages.

The collagen cases produce a more consistent shape sausage, but that is of little importance to me. sambal badjak your sausages look much better than mine. Mine look like they are mass produced. Given the choice I would go for yours.

If I had the correct set up collagen casings would be less messy to use.
I did not mind the texture or taste of the casings.

I have affirmed my dislike of nutmeg/mace in fresh sausages. I have never been a great fan of ether of these in fresh sausages (it works in other types of sausages). I usually use allspice when nutmeg or mace is in the recipe. I thought I would try again, but I am convinced that in fresh sausages nutmeg/mace are not for me.

Get the right equipment.
Always have a plan B.
Stick with what you know you like
Going have to do some thinking about what I am going to do when it comes to the beer sticks.




Posted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 00:12
by Chuckwagon
Believe me, it is a mistake to add more water to the mixture thinking it will be easier to squeeze into casings. The added moisture throws the balance off everything and with collagen casings, it just makes a gooey mess. The thing to do is purchase a 10 pound vertical crank stuffer to do the trick. The gears make stuffing a snap and you`ll be done in no time at all.
Mark, why not try just a bit of sage with a pinch of thyme in your breakfast sausage? Find the magic and stick with what you like. Your links look terrific. Very nice. Cook some up and let`s have a taste!

Best Wishes,

Posted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 15:25
by el Ducko
A Rambling Rant About Non-Cased Sausage Storage
These first few sausage recipes in Project B2 are meant to bring us all "up to speed" on a number of things that we take for granted. For example, one of my first realizations was that I needed a better scale. I couldn`t measure to within a tenth of a gram on a kitchen scale that could measure within 2 grams. It took a while to ask around, read forum notes, visit a restaurant supply shop, scratch my head and think, and so on. I wound up in a pawn shop in a shady part of town, buying what we jokingly refer to as a "drug dealers` scale" for twenty bucks. It works fine. ( chain, the man assured me.)

Here`s another item that needs to be pointed out: casing. Many sausages use, as containers, casing of some sort. There`s collagen casing, sheep intestine, pork intestine, beef intestine, fibrous casing... a bewildering variety, plus all sorts of plastic containers for loose items. Part of what CW is leading us through in the early portions of Project B2 is how to buy, prepare, and handle the various kinds of casings. If there`s one theme that runs through sausage making history and practice, it`s probably the container, what-and-how.

So in Project B2, there`s early work involving non-cased sausage, then collagen casing, then sheep casing. Each has its own challenges, and the old junior high athletics admonition to "just gut it out, Kid" (sorry about the pun) still holds. Try it, fail a few times (especially on small-diameter sheep casing), then finally get the hang of it. Don`t worry- - one day, you`ll have the right combination of materials and technique, even if sometimes you have to build it yourself. (CW`s small diameter stuffer tube, for example, or Ross Hill`s and my "Russ-n-Ross Ramrod" stuffer.)

Here`s a small contribution from yours truly- - what's the best way to store sausage that doesn`t have casing? Breakfast sausage is a prime example. What wrapping is good? What do you use in the freezer? Is wrapping it in one layer of butcher paper adequate? ...two layers?

After throwing out about ten pounds of pork mince that was stored in freezer bags and didn`t make it, I think I have an answer.

When I make my breakfast chorizo, I refrigerate for two days or so, then divide the completed mix into 4-ounce (or 100+ gram) portions. As I separate each portion (enough for scrambled eggs + chorizo for two people), I place it in a cheap fold-top plastic sandwich bag. When satisfied with the weight, I smush the sausage down into the bottom of the bag, then roll it on the counter to drive out air bubbles. I do this for the whole batch (usually half to one kilo of sausage). Then I get out my "Foodsaver" vacuum sealer and seal two to four rolls per vacuum bag. If you are clever, you can divide an 11 inch bag in two lengthwise, insert two rolls on either side of the division, then vacuum seal the whole thing at one time. When you want to pull out a single roll, open one corner only. That way, you can seal the other one back up and return it to the freezer.

Hope this helps. What else can I do to keep frozen sausage edible, longer? We'd all like to know.

Posted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 20:27
by sawhorseray
Otto, Sambal, and Mark, I raise my glass to you guys! You are all over-coming some adversity and producing some fine looking sausage, bet it tastes great too. I'll be back on the P-2 trail myself soon, almost out of wild hog sausage, only two packs left. Will entertain my wife this weekend and on Monday decide to either hunt or make sausage next week. RAY

Posted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 01:19
by Chuckwagon
Hey, hey, Duckster! I appreciate your comments. Thank you. :wink:

Recipe #3 - Learning to use cures and casings.

Casings And Stuffing

For years, I used a push-type horn stuffer complete with a lever-driven piston, and I often invented new and exciting, colorful, adjectives and nouns. From the onset, it became evident that adding moisture to the meat mixture was necessary just to be able to press the meat mixture through the *!#*! device into casings. Most of the time, the sausage (with too much added water) turned out mushy and many times just pulling the handle down required the assistance of three men and a boy! Impressing no one with my vibrant vocabulary, and finding my marriage in jeopardy, I eventually purchased a hand-cranked, geared, vertical model stuffer from Rytek Kutas during his "early days" - one of the best investments of my lifetime. I still have it and it works just fine.

Today, like many home sausage makers, I use a motorized grinder and never add moisture to sausage with the exception of finely crushed ice to cool the blade and of course, just a bit of water to make the "soup" containing the cure and spices. Although it is possible to remove the blade and plate from the grinder, add a "spacer", and attach a "stuffing horn" complete with a few yards of casing ready to be stuffed, I was never able to see the wisdom in this type of setup as it is incredibly slow and frustrating! Stuffing casings right out of the grinder is poor practice, yet innumerable people believe it is proper practice. If you must process sausage in this manner, please grind the sausage into a container placed inside a bowl of ice. Mix the ground meat well to develop the myosin, cool the mixture until it nearly freezes, then pass it through the grinder again without using the blade and plate, being sure to use a "spacer" - a plate having only two large apertures, eliminating much of the resistance of trying to push the mixture through multiple holes.

Commercially made sausages are nearly always stuffed into synthetic, collagen, plastic, or other man-made casings by motorized and geared stuffers. Most often, natural casings are not used commercially since they vary in diameter and volume, making it difficult for companies to provide a consistently uniform product. Regardless of the type stuffer you choose, you should be aware that meat mixed with salt, especially combined with soy protein concentrate, will set up like cement if you don`t expedite the process a bit and get the meat into casings immediately.

Small batches of homemade sausage are best stuffed into natural hog or lamb casings being completely rinsed of packing salt inside and out. Soaked casings are placed upon the nozzle of your kitchen tap then flushed with water to remove the salt inside them. Natural casings used for your favorite sausages, are made from the submucosa collagen layers inside the intestines of sheep, hogs, and cattle. Flushed, cleaned, turned inside out and scraped with knives, they are finally salted and shipped in a saturated salt solution. They have historically been the ideal container for the world`s first "convenience food". Moisture and heat make casing more porous and tend to soften them, explaining why smoking, cooking, and humidity must be carefully controlled. The secrets of the old mom-and-pop "wurstmachers" over hundreds of years, have been developed into a most efficient and safely consumed product today, although now, there aren`t enough to go around! As a consequence, commercial sausage makers now use plastic, cellulose, and collagen casings almost exclusively.

Hog casings (upper intestines) are sold in 91-meter lengths cut into "hanks" 1 to 2 meters long and gathered into bundles called "shorts". Their average diameter is about 35 millimeters and may be used for cooked sausages, pepperoni, Italian sausage, Kielbasa, Kishka, larger franks, and a host of other stuffed sausages. Hog middles (middle intestines called "chitterlings") are curly in appearance and cut into one-meter lengths, sold in bundles of nine or ten. They are available in wide, medium, or narrow calibers, determined by the location of the item within the animal. Middles are ideal for Braunschweiger, liver sausages, dry salami, and Italian salami. Hog bungs (called "fat ends") are the intestine`s extreme southern end of a north-bound pig. Bungs are sold individually and are used primarily for liver sausage and Branschweiger, Genoa salami, Thuringer, and summer sausage. Diameters vary from 55 to 90 millimeters.

Measured by diameter in millimeters, small breakfast sausages require 29-35 mm. casings. Use 35-38 mm. casings for Polish sausage, and 38-42 mm. for summer sausage and larger Polish or liverwurst sausages. For small batches of sausage, use a partial "hank", replacing leftover casings inside their salt solution in an airtight refrigerated container. Sheep casings are more delicate, used for the best sausages, are smaller in diameter, and high in quality. Available in 18-28 millimeter diameters, they are often used for frankfurters, fresh pork sausages, cabanosa, Bockwurst, Chipolata, and slim-jim beer sticks.

The three most used beef casings are "bung caps", "beef rounds", and `beef middles". The caps are used with capicola, large Bologna, and cooked salami. Beef "rounds" derive their name from their characteristic "ring" shape, and are used for stuffing ring Bologna, ring liver sausage, Mettwurst, Polish sausage, blood sausages, and Polish Kishka and German Holsteiner. Beef "middles" are used for Leona sausage, all types of Bologna, Cervelats, cooked salami, and veal sausage. Beef middles are sold in "sets" of 9 and measure 18 meters in length (30 feet). Beef bladders are the largest diameter casings acquired from cattle, are oval and used for Mortadella and other specialty sausage.

Whenever using fresh hog or lamb casings, prepare them by soaking and flushing them with fresh cold water. As they soak, rinse the packing salt from their insides by placing only one at a time, inside a bowl of water beneath the tap in your sink. Open one end of the processed, cleaned, and salted intestine, slipping an inch or more of it over the water tap. Flush cold water through the casing for a few minutes, to remove any remaining salt. As you remove the casing from the tap, allow a bubble of water to remain inside then gather the full length of the casing over a stuffing tube first lubricated with water. Never attempt to lubricate the stuffer with butter or any other lubricant other than water, as this will affect the cooking-smoking of the skin later on. Stuff the entire casing firmly before linking uniform lengths by pinching off a desired amount, holding each end using both hands, then twisting each new link by flipping it forward in a circular motion twice. Many folks tie lengths using 100% cotton string although fingers become sore if there is much sausage to be linked. It is important to immediately remove any air pockets in the sausages by pricking the links with sterile needles in multiple locations along the entire length of the sausage. I use a piano tuner's "voicing tool" with a spiffy hardwood handle and four needles. Trapped air, if not removed, becomes the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Don`t be concerned about the small holes made in the sausage. The tiny holes will seal themselves almost immediately and natural casings will shrink equally with the meat while being cooked or dried.

Generally, smaller casings allow about half the volume of meat to be stuffed into them as when using those of a little larger diameter, and there is now a trend for sausage makers to stuff even simple breakfast sausage into 32-35 mm. hog casings instead of the traditionally smaller lamb casings. As with all natural casings, unused portions may be replaced into their original containers of saturated salt solution and may be stored for an indefinite period of time when refrigerated.

Synthetic And Fibrous Casings

Each year, in the United States alone, there are billions of pounds of sausage produced. Livestock simply cannot produce enough casings to wrap all the luncheon meats and sausages we devour annually. Today, about 80% of the sausage sold in your local market is stuffed into synthetic casings. Thank goodness for cellulose and plastic! There is an array of colors - red for Bologna, white for liverwurst, and clear-colored for salami and an assortment of other favorites. Some have a coating of protein inside which causes the casing to shrink along with the meat as it dries. Fibrous casings have the added strength of fibers running lengthwise through them, giving them added strength, allowing packers to stuff them more tightly eliminating air pockets. This casing is actually porous enough to allow the absorption of smoke.

Collagen Casings

Where was this stuff fifty years ago? Collagen is not synthetic, as most people seem to believe. It is the insoluble fibrous protein in connective tissue in cattle and other vertebrates. Upon prolonged heating, it yields gelatin and glue used in many products. In the sausage-casing industry, it is simply the flesh-side, corium layer of cattle hides, swelled in an acid, then sieved and filtered before being extruded into sausage casings. It`s wonderful stuff, fully digestible, not erratic in size, doesn`t need to be cleaned, flushed, or even pre-soaked, and remains fairly strong for stuffing, yet is most tender to the tooth. It is shipped to you inside sanitary containers, ready to be stuffed onto the horn without additional washing, soaking, or handling. The only single drawback with using collagen casings is they cannot be twisted into links and have to be tied with string. Collagen casings are ideal for smoked or dry-cured sausages. In smaller diameters, breakfast sausages don`t even have to be linked; simply cut them to length with scissors after stuffing. Whenever making 19 m.m. snak-stix, collagen casings can`t be beat.

Casing Problems

Natural casings are shipped packed in a salt solution inside sealed containers. It is most unlikely they will decay. However, infrequently gas builds up and its odor will cause you to believe either the contents have spoiled, or that someone has buried a body in the basement! Simply wash and use the casings, packing any left over in saturated, uniodized, kosher salt solution. Casings on fresh sausage may be tough if the product is cooked at too high a temperature for too short a period of time. Casings may also be tough if not soaked long enough before being stuffed. If smoke will not penetrate casings, they have not dried properly. In some cases, smoke may penetrate the casing but will be deposited on the meat`s surface, permitting separation. On the other hand, if casings are over dried, smoke will be deposited upon the surface with very little flavor penetration.

Collagen casings must dry a bit before they are able to handle the weight of their contents while hanging them in your smoker. If the humidity is too high in the smokehouse, they may fall. If casings wrinkle, they may have been too dry before stuffing, under stuffed, or improperly cooled. Following cooking inside a smokehouse, sausages should immediately be showered with cold water, hung at room temperature for an hour, then removed to a cooler overnight.

The Primary Bind

The next step is probably the most overlooked (by novices) in the entire sausage making process. Ground (comminuted) meat does not naturally bind or hold together. Having minced or ground meat for sausage, we must remember the simple task of developing a "sticky meat paste" that sausage makers refer to as the "primary bind". In technical terms, the cold meat (just above the freezing point) must be mixed and kneaded well enough to develop the protein myosin. As this occurs, the mass will become sticky and develop peaks when pulled apart. The proper development of myosin is critical for good texture in the finished product, although the meat shouldn`t be over mixed, as this practice, along with adding too much water, may result in the sausage becoming mushy. Worse, sausages may shrink and appear somewhat flat and wrinkly, as the excess moisture evaporates. Do all you can to develop a thickened, sticky "meat paste". Will your sterile plastic glove-covered hands become unbearably cold? Yes. Manual mixers of every type may be ordered from any sausage-making supplier.

To illustrate the importance of developing the primary bind, try to recall the last time you made burgers for grilling. Have you ever just haphazardly formed a ball of sausage into a flat patty for frying? Again, ground meat just does not naturally bind or hold together. Your burger probably fell apart as you attempted to turn it on the grill. But as you learned to work with the meat, tossing it from hand to hand, mixing and pressing it in your hands, the meat became sticky and held together before grilling. The protein myosin was developed as you "worked" the meat and indeed, your finished burger was appetizing, juicy, cooked to perfection, and best of all, it held together! The mixture in your sausages needs the same extra bit of care to have great texture. Develop the primary bind!


Okay smoke sniffers! Here`s one of the best snacks you can sink your teeth into. This one`s a "regular" in my household. I think you`ll enjoy it too. I think I`ve got my buddy "Grasshopper" addicted to the stuff.
Before we get into casings and cased sausages, let take a look at an extruded meat product that is great for snacks. Some time ago, I bought some extra smoke screens to fit inside my Sausagemaker smokehouse. For quick snacks, I use Stan Marianski`s recipe for Kabanosy, but rather than stuff the mixture into sheep casings, I shoot the mixture (extrude) through a "jerky cannon". To really speed things up, I bought an extra tube for the "cannon" and have my ol` pard (Smoky Wagon Track) stuff one while I`m using the other one. After repetitive stuffing, I have learned that the only real efficient and quick way to load a jerky cannon tube is to fill it with my vertical crank stuffer with a large horn attached.
Next, I spray the screens with a little "Peel Eze" (or Pam) and extrude the following mixture with only enough water to mix the Cure #1. Keep the mixture dry as possible and remember to mix the meat gently, only to develop the proteins. Do NOT overmix the meat or it will become rubbery in texture. I like to use the little "flat" die that came with the cannon. It makes perfect jerky. One more note here... don`t be afraid to add extra black pepper to the recipe if you like it like I do. But please... use only coarsely ground fresh peppercorns. It really does make a difference in the final product. You`ll be able to taste it. Dry the meat on the screens two days then smoke `em low and slow until the IMT reaches only about 150 degrees F. It is most important to NOT overcook these little things.
Although the original recipe calls for sheep casings, many folks like to fill 19mm collagen edible casing because it is less expensive. Why not make some of these great snacks and snap a few photos to send in. Let`s see your handiwork. These little snacks are the perfect sausage to enjoy with a good cold beer.

KABANOSY (without casings)
2.0 kg. (4.4 lbs.) lean pork butt or ham
3.0 kg. (6.6 lbs.) pork trimmings
90 g. salt
12 g. Instacure #1 (U.S.stregth)
10 g. sugar
10 g. (or more) black pepper (fresh, coarsely ground)
3 g. nutmeg
3 g. caraway

Grind the pork and fat through a 3/16" plate. Mix all the ingredients together and develop the proteins - until the mass feels sticky. Extrude rounds or flats through a jerky cannon making sure the sausages feel dry before smoke is applied. Preheat your smoker to 130°F. and use hot smoke for one hour. Gradually raise the smokehouse temp to 170° F. Do not overcook the sausages. Monitor the sausages carefully. When the meat`s internal temperature reaches 155°, allow them to cool. Dry the sausage a few days in 75-80% humidity while it blooms. The yield will only be about 60% but worth every minute making it.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 02:05
by Chuckwagon
Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite Cures

Man discovered anciently that when salt was added to meat it improved its flavor, color, and shelf life. Then somewhere in time, sodium nitrate came into use as a naturally occurring contaminant of salt. Chile and Peru have massive deposits of sodium nitrate (NaNO3). Not to be confused with sodium nitrite (NaNO2), the substance is also found in leafy green vegetables. Acting as powerful antioxidants, nitrates and nitrites reduce oxidative rancidity. However, when added directly to meats, sodium nitrite is primarily responsible for the inhibition of pathogen growth including that of clostridium botulinum - the bacteria causing botulism poisoning. Nitrate in itself is not successful in producing the curing reaction. Sodium nitrate must be reduced by lactic acid bacteria (micrococcaceae [kocuria] species) or other natural means to be effective. In other words, nitrate breaks down into nitrite - and nitrite breaks down into nitric oxide - the substance that actually cures meat. Modern science has not produced a substitute for sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite used as agents to preserve meat and destroy clostridium botulinum. As these salts are poisonous used in proportionately greater amounts, companies have continually tried to improve upon them though their efforts have been futile.

Cure #1 is used to cure all meats that require cooking, smoking, and canning. This includes poultry, fish, hams, bacon, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates, and many other products.
Note that Prague Powder Cure #1 in the United States, contains 6.25% sodium nitrite (NaNO2), and 93.75% sodium chloride (salt). As this formula contains no sodium nitrate (NaNO3), there is no waiting for nitrate to be broken down into nitrite and it is effective immediately in curing meat. In the United States, Cure #1 is manufactured using one ounce of sodium nitrite added to each one pound of salt. When used in the curing process, only 4 ounces of cure is added to 100 pounds of sausage. Two level teaspoons will cure 10 lbs. of meat.
Cure #2 is used in dry-cured sausages and whole-muscle meats where curing time allows the nitrate to gradually break down into nitrite. Cure #2 in the United States, contains one-ounce (6.25%) sodium nitrite (NaNO2), with .64 ounce (4%) sodium nitrate (NaNO3), and 89.75 sodium chloride in 1 lb. of salt. Why so much nitrate? Remember, it is actually nitrite reducing to nitric oxide that cures meat. After two weeks dry-curing, only about a quarter of the 6.25 % sodium nitrite remains in the meat. Nitrite is simply too fast. In salamis requiring three or more months to cure, a certain amount of sodium nitrate must be added to the recipe to break down over time. Since micrococcaceae species are inhibited at low pH, sausages relying on nitrate reduction must be fermented by a traditional process. Therefore, nitrate is still used by many dry sausage manufacturers because sodium nitrate (NaNO3) serves as a long time "reservoir" of sodium nitrite (NaNO2).
Note that in other countries, the formula varies. In the United Kingdom, Prague Powder # 2 (Cure #2) is available with 5.67% sodium nitrite, 3.62 sodium nitrate, the remainder being salt.

Potassium Nitrate (Saltpeter)

Saltpeter is 100% potassium nitrate (KNO3). Although it is used in various cures throughout the world, it is no longer included in cures in the United States (with the exception of only a few applications) as it is thought to produce cancer-causing nitrosamines when cooked at higher temperatures. Commercially, with only a few exceptions, it has been banned by law since 1975. A fatal dose of potassium nitrate is merely 30 grams. Sodium nitrite will cancel your clock at only about 22 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. You can plainly see why these cures MUST be handled correctly.

Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite Cures #1 and #2

Nitrates and nitrites have gotten a bad rap. During the mid 1970`s, I remember a series of articles published by an attention-seeking reporter trying to establish a name for himself - he was a sensationalist. Indeed, he stirred up and excited the American public, putting fear of nitrates and nitrites into the average consumer. The fact remains, the National Academy of Sciences (Research Council) states that when used in proper concentration (established legal limits), nitrite does nothing to directly harm consumers. Did you know that vegetables contain more nitrites than sausage? In fact, vegetables contain higher concentrations of nitrate than any other foods in our diet. Spinach, lettuce, and beets, are full of the stuff.

Nitrate in itself is not successful in producing the curing reaction. Sodium nitrate must be reduced by lactic acid bacteria (micrococcaceae species), or other natural means, to be effective. In other words, nitrate breaks down into nitrite - and nitrite breaks down into nitric oxide - the substance that actually cures meat. Modern science has not produced a substitute for sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite used as agents to preserve meat and destroy clostridium botulinum.

Nitrates and nitrites must be used with caution. Both are considered toxic in larger amounts and for that reason, strict limits on their use have been established by the USDA. In the United States, the amount of added sodium nitrite lies within the range of 50-200 mg. per kilogram, and sodium nitrate in the range of 200 to 600 mg. per kg. How much is lethal? A fatal dose of potassium nitrate is about 30 grams (two tablespoons). Merely 1 gram of sodium nitrite (about 22 milligrams per kilogram of body weight) will cancel your clock! That`s only about 1/3 of a teaspoon! It takes a little more for sodium nitrate to keep you permanently horizontal - one full teaspoon will do the trick!

It is important to note that in various countries, the formulas for nitrate and nitrite cures vary greatly. The strength of nitrates and nitrites themselves do not vary. It is the amount added to a salt carrier that makes a cure stronger or weaker in comparison to others. For instance, In Poland, the nitrite and salt cure called Peklosol is available at only 0.6% nitrite. In Germany, it is called Pokelsalz and contains the same 0.6% nitrite content in salt. In Sweden, folks call their product Colorazo at 0.6% nitrite. In France, it`s Sel nitrite` at 0.6% nitrite. These cures contain only sixty-hundredths of one percent nitrite. Note the placement of the decimal point. Although the cure is not pink in color (it is white), a consumer would find a product much too salty to be palatable if it were to contain ominous amounts of nitrite. In America, Cure #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite, and 93.75% salt - ten and a half times stronger than most European cures, with the exception of some of those in the UK containing 5.88% sodium nitrite.

One curing agent must never be confused with the other within any recipe and one certainly must not be substituted for the other. Moreover, both cures are never used together in the same recipe. Notice that formula #1 contains only nitrite while formula #2 contains both nitrite and nitrate. If you mix, cure, and smoke sausage, it becomes your responsibility to follow directions mixing exactly four ounces of Prague Powder with one hundred pounds of meat, or for us home consumers, precisely two level teaspoons mixed with a little water for even distribution, for each ten pound batch of sausage. If you are mixing only five pounds of sausage, add just one level teaspoon of curing salt. For dry-curing whole pieces of meat muscle, we multiply the amount of cure by 4. This allows a "pick up" of about ten percent or approximately 156 parts per million in the final product. Please measure carefully and remember that any recklessness in mixing these salts may potentially injure someone.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 05:01
by el Ducko
Chuckwagon wrote: Although the original recipe calls for sheep casings, many folks like to fill 19mm collagen edible casing because it is less expensive. Why not make some of these great snacks and snap a few photos to send in. Let`s see your handiwork. These little snacks are the perfect sausage to enjoy with a good cold beer.
You are quite right, CW- - Kabanosy is easy to make, and addictive. I have used collagen for my several batches, and nowadays like to kick back with some of the previous batch (and an appropriate beverage) during the smoking portion. The greatest challenge is to make more before running out of the earlier batch.

Posted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 07:22
by redzed
Hmm, but can a skinless piece of formed meat be called a kabanos?