Zip It!: Even Easier Dry Sausage Making

As you know, UMAi Dry® makes it possible to dry age and dry cure in your home refrigerator.  In our never-ending quest to make it easier for you to “create tradition at home,” we are always exploring new techniques for applying UMAi Dry®.

With the release of our new 32mm UMAi Dry Sausage Casing for quick drying fermented recipes such as pepperoni, saucisson sec and snack sticks, we discovered a great solution for tying off the casings.

Traditionally to tie off sausage stuffed into natural or collagen casing, you need butcher’s twine and really strong fingers. A long sausage making session, tying and tying and tying off sausage after sausage can not only leave you with sore fingers, but also with splits with the butchers’ twine starts to cut into your skin.  The twine had to be tight or the sausage hung to ferment and dry might–PLOP–fall to the floor putting all your hard work to waste.

When UMAi Dry® casing was first released, we recommended measuring off lengths of casing, then sealing them with a vacuum sealer, as we do with most UMAi Dry® applications.  After stuffing, however, sealing the end using the VacMouse® to draw out the tiny bit of air at the end of the casing seemed fiddly and wasteful.  Moreover, you still need the hang the sausage to dry, so the strong fingers and butcher’s twine were still required.

During testing various alternatives, we discovered the common zip ties (aka tie wrap or cable ties) were a far more efficient and far less strenuous way to tie off the casings.  A simple 4″ cable tie does a great job of tying off the starting end after you thread your preferred length of casing onto the stuffing horn.  It is a clean secure way to tie off the end of each sausage as you stuff it out.

The best discovery was a technique that eliminates the need for any butcher’s twine.  When stuffing, if you stuff two links, with a small space of casing in between, you can then easily hang the pair of links for fermentation.

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Here are the steps:

  1. Zip tie the starting end.
  2. Stuff out one link.
  3. Twist the end of that stuffing and zip tie it off.
  4. Leave about an inch or two centimeters of casing, then zip tie the starting point for the second link
  5. Stuff out the second link, twist off, zip tie.
  6. Leave another short span of casing and zip tie for the starting point of your next link of sausage.
  7. Cut between the ending point and starting point leaving two sausage links together.
  8. Hang the pair from the connecting point to ferment.

The photos below will give you a good idea how this works both while stuffing and when hanging to ferment.

We hope this helpful hint makes it even easier for you to experiment with fermented dry sausage making.

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Cold Smoked Salmon – a new method

Cold smoking salmon is a method that is often out of reach for most. The cold smoking set up involves smoking the fish at low temperature for a long period of time (like 2-3 days). Cold smoking imparts that coveted smoke flavor to the fish. Cold smoking allows the fish to dry and take on a prosciutto like texture.

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While visiting Montreal this summer we discovered a new more kitchen friendly method for creating an amazingly flavorful and delicious looking Cold “Smoked” Salmon. This method is also quite safe as everything happens under refrigeration and the fish is not exposed to high temperatures.

This recipe came from our friend Yan Garzon of

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The recipe for the cure was very simple:

500 gr of coarse salt
-500 gr of brown sugar
– 20 gr of spices of your choice (Montreal steak seasoning finely ground)
-sweet ground paprika (enough to cover de filet)
-10 gr of ground black pepper

One interesting thing is that the Montreal seasoning which is marketed mainly for steak, actually contains a perfect mix of spices traditionally suited for salmon:

Here is the Montreal seasoning recipe:
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp crushed black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp crushed coriander
1 tsp dill
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

We prepared more cure than was needed for this particular cure and did a little experiment creating four different recipes for Cold “Smoked” Salmon:

We did a cure in 4 different ratios of cure/fish by weight: 5%, 10%, 25% and 50%

The basic method was as follows:

Mix all of these together and keep in a Ziploc bag or Mason jar.
Method
1-cover the filet with some paprika that you sprinkle on it. Purpose is to get a nice red colored finish product:

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2-Use a big Ziploc bag to fit your fish filet, and you can cut the filet in 2 or 4 part, as you wish to fit in your curing bag and after in the UMAI DRY bags.

3-Weigh the fish and put in the bag two table spoons of liquid smoke, and 50% of the fish weight of curing solution also. (we made 4 batches of various ratios)

4-toss the bag and the mix evenly so it covers the flesh part

5-Put in the fridge for 7 days, and turn it every day.

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As you can see after a couple of days of curing the salt pulled out various amounts of water from the fish most being pulled out by the 50% cure ratio
6-After 7 days, take out of the ziplock bags and lightly rinse under fresh cold water, and dry with clean paper towel.

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7-Vacuum seal in UMAI DRY Small Charcuterie Bag and keep in the fridge on a open wire rack for about 12 days. The fish must be elevated to allow airflow all the way around it to allow moisture to evaporate through the bag.

The UMAi Dry bags are special bags that allow the fish to dry in the refrigerator. The moisture loss will develop a flavor and texture of cold smoked salmon. The UMAi Dry bags are used mainly in Charcuterie and Salumi applications for creating capicola, bresaola, pancetta in a home refrigerator.

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When the fish was fully cured and dried it has lost an average 35% of its original weight:

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This product is very shelf stable when refrigerated and can last a couple of months if vacuum sealed in regular Foodsaver bags.

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