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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Sodium Nitrite – Is it a bad thing?

Much of todays society is focused on food “purity”. Many products today are marketed as “locally raised”, “sustainable” and free of many ingredients deemed to be undesirable.
One such ingredient is commonly referred to as “nitrite”. Processed meat products like salami, ham, turkey, etc. are boasting a claim to be “nitrite free“.
What is referred to as “nitrite” is actually sodium nitrite a salt commonly used in preserving meat and protecting the meat from growth of harmful bacteria know as Clostridium botulinum which can cause botulism a dangerous possibly fatal condition.

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A “nitrite free” product purchased in an American supermarket most certainly does contain nitrite, but not in its salt form. The manufacturers of these “nitrite free” products often use extracts of celery or celery seed, which naturally contains elevated levels of nitrite. The labeling laws in the US allow companies who use a plant derived form of nitrite to claim that their products are “nitrite free”.
One of the interesting details about the use of celery derived nitrites is that it is virtually impossible to control the concentration of nitrite in the meat precisely, since the levels of nitrite in celery can vary widely depending on its source.

By adding a nitrite salt such as Instacure #1 or Instacure #2 to your home made sausage you can control the level of nitirite in the meat more precisely and avoid over or under dose.
Instacure #1 contains 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite and should be added at a level of .25% of the weight of the meat.
It is used for fresh and cooked sausages and hams
Instacure #2 contains 92.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitirite as well as 1% sodium nitrate. It should be added to meat at a level of .25%. This curing salt is used in dry sausages and charcuterie meats that are aged longer than 2 weeks.
The sodium nitrate component of this additive breaks down into sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite eventually breaks down through oxidation into nitric oxide in dry sausages leaving no trace behind.

Michael Ruhlman outlines the myths behind “nitrite free” labeling in his post: http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/the-no-nitrites-added-hoax/

Pepperoni the artisan way with UMAi Dry

Pepperoni is an American dry sausage introduced by italian immigrants in the beginning of the 20th century. It is a cousin of several traditional italian salami products like: Soppressata, Salami Toscano, etc.

Today the popularity of this sausage exceeds any other dry sausage, since pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping around the world. However, the pepperoni that is put on your Domino’s pizza is produced in large factories using very inexpensive ingredients and is cooked prior to drying. It has little to do with its origins as an artisanal dry sausage. We went on a quest to make pepperoni the way it was originally made. Stanley Marianski in his book “The Art of Making Fermented Sausages” had the recipe we were looking for.

This simple and delicious artisan dry sausage can be made with the new UMAi Dry 32 mm Dry Sausage Kit right in the comfort of your kitchen.

Here is the process and recipe:

We used lean pork tenderloin since it is very affordable at our local Costco warehouse (you can use any leaner cut of pork), we also used beef chuck and pork back fat.

You would want to par-freeze all the meat in thin strips before making the sausage. Once the meat is semi-frozen, you can cut it into small cubes in order to feed them into the grinder:

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After the meat is cubed you can put it back in the freezer and assemble you cure and spices:

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Now we are ready to grind the meat, we like to use a large 6mm (1/4 in.) grinding plate, it makes the texture and drying more even. When grinding the meat you would want to alternate beef, pork and fat to get some mixing in the grinding step:

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After all the meat is ground, the cure and spices can be added. We use wooden paddles to mix the cure and spices in since the ground meat is cold and mixes very easily. Warming up the meat with hands makes mixing the cure more difficult.

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After the spices and the cure are mixed in we will add the Bactoferm T-SPX starter cuture, which has been previously dissolved in previously boiled and cooled to room temperature water. After the culture has been added we begin to “knead” the sausage mix with hands until begins to stiffen:

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We thne put the mixture back into the freezer and get our stuffer ready and prepare the UMAi Dry 32mm casing included in the sausage kit. We will use 4 inch zip-ties to close the ends of sausage chubs:

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We stuffed the chilled sausage mix into pair chubs, trying to avoid air pockets. The pair chubs will make it easier to hand the sausage for fermentation:

 

 

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We used an unused oven as our fermentation chamber. The oven was at room temperature 65-75F. We fermented for 36 hours. The pepperoni sausage will change color from pale orange to bright red after fermentation:

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After fermentation the pepperoni is ready for drying. UMAi Dry allows you to dry in any modern household fridge on a wire rack. Don’t use a beer fridge, mini-fridge or garage fridge in the winter. We used our regular kitchen fridge to dry:

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The 32 mm UMAi Dry sausage casing dries pretty quickly. In this case it took only 2 weeks for the sausage to loose the 35-40% weight required for dry sausage

 

 

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This pepperoni exceeded our expectations. The flavor and texture was levels above commercially produced pepperoni. It had a true artisanal character.

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Recipe is below:

Traditional Pepperoni

(Slow-fermented Dry Style)

Ingredients per 2.2 kg 5 lb of meat

Lean beef 670g 1.45 lb

Lean pork 1375g  / 3 lb

Pork fat (Back Fat) 250g  / 0.55 lb

Salt 65g 11 tsp

Instacure #2 5g  / 1 tsp

Dextrose 4g  / 1 tsp

Sugar 6g  / 1 tsp

Black pepper 6g  / 3 tsp

Paprika 12g  / 6 tsp

Fennel 5g  / 4 tsp

Cayenne Pepper 4g  / 2 tsp

Bactoferm T-SPX 0.5 g   / 1/2 tsp

(dissolved in 2 tbsp lukewarm de-chlorinated water)

5 Tips for making Dry sausage with UMAi Dry

To make good looking and good tasting dry sausage with UMAi Dry is not that hard. There a few basic practices to follow to ensure you get the very best results for your effort and patience.

Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Keep the meat cold: Slice the meat into thick slices (+/- ¾ in./1 cm) and partially freeze prior to cutting them into cubes for grinding. Keep the meat as cold as possible through each step of the process right until it is stuffed into UMAi Dry® casing. Keeping the meat cold (aka icy, nearly frozen) makes grinding and mixing easy as can be.  Frozen meat grinds out with much better definition. The ground meat will keep its shape.   The defined grind will also allow the spices and cure to distribute more easily and evenly, coating each individual particle. Finally. stuffing a cold sausage mixture guarantees an well-defined appearance to the finished dry sausage, achieving a classic salumi look.

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2. Grind large: Use a large hole plate when grinding the meat for dry sausage. Larger meat particles will allow faster, more even drying.  It will also give the sausage the classic texture of a fine salami. Smaller grind will take longer to dry and create a less defined texture.

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3. Use paddles or other tools to mix cure and spices into the ground meat :  If you use hands, you end up with frozen digits and sticky meat, making even mixing next to impossible. Wood, plastic or metal paddles will help keep the ground meat cold and help coat each particle with cure and spices for an even mix. Once the spices and cure coat the sausage particles well, you can use hands to knead the mixture until it gets stiff, indicating a stable mixture.

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4. Use a dedicated stuffer to stuff the casing: This is a lesson we’ve learned the hard way.  Hand grinders and grinder stuffer attachments will generally result paste like or doughy re-ground meat–very undesirable for a classic dry sausage. A dedicated stuffer will work more gently, preserving the structure of the meat.  The result is the well-defined particle pattern of classic salami.

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5. Ferment the sausage in a protected space with little air flow: Fermentation is one of the most critical steps in making dry sausage.  During this step the sausage should be prevented from drying. Fermenting sausages should be placed in an area with little to no air movement.  Rapid airflow can dry out the outside of the sausage preventing the outer surface from properly fermenting. As a result you may have uneven drying and poor appearance of the finished product. We’ve begun to use an oven or similar enclosed space. One sausage maker showed us how he rigged up a paper grocery bag umbrella-style to shelter the batch of sausages he hung to ferment.

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These are practices we’ve found helpful in our pursuit of making better and better dry sausage.  We hope they help you get the best results for all the time, effort and patience you will put into mastering the art of salumi!

Canada geese are good in salami (recipes)

Fall in Minnesota (as is the case in most of Northern US) is always accompanied by the sights and sounds of Canada geese. They are often described as nuisance by urban residents because of their brazen disregard for the presence of humans, cars or buildings. These large, unattractive looking birds are perfectly legal to hunt in Minnesota and are becoming more and more popular with local hunters.

Many hunters often wonder how to use the goose meat. We found this nutritional information regarding wild game useful: http://www.gunnersden.com/index.htm.hunting-game-nutrition-value.html

Our customer Glenn sent us some pictures where he incorporated goose meat into a great salami soppressata and chorizo recipe using UMAi Dry:

Pictures below shows Soppressata, tags show the date and starting weight, finished weight on the back side of tag

5 lbs of Soprestatta and 5 kbs of Chorizo both made from ground  3.5 lbs of goose and 1.5 lbs of pork.  

Day 1

Day 1

 

Fermenting

Fermenting

 

Dry curing

Dry curing

 

Finished Soprestatta, very nice texture and flavor, casings worked out great.

Finished Soprestatta, very nice texture and flavor, casings worked out great.

We think Glenn’s idea is a pretty ingenious way to utilize the meat of a bird that many in the US consider to be unattractive.