Summer Sausage has always been one of my favorite snacks, but there’s all kinds of weirdness that goes into preserving some of the (admittedly delicious) grocery store brands. About a year ago, I looked into whether or not we could do it ourselves, and it turns out it is very easy! I’ve yet to make this sausage look pretty, though I did a better job of shaping them this time, but they would be nice in a gift basket. While there is still some curing going on, it’s controlled and it’s nice to know what’s in it. And we can make it with a leaner meat and spices to taste. It freezes very well, especially if you vacuum seal it. The measurements below are what we like, but you can absolutely adjust them (except for the curing salts to meant ratio).
- 5 pounds ground beef (a 90% lean would be good – don’t go above 93%, but likewise try to avoid going below 90% or you’ll have a greasy sausage)
- 5 teaspoons sugar-based curing mixture (I used Morton Tender Quick)
- 1/4 cup mustard seed
- 3-4 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon hickory-flavored liquid smoke
In a large bowl, mix beef, curing mixture, mustard seed, garlic powder, cayenne, red pepper flakes, salt, and liquid smoke. Place in plastic zip locks (I needed two) and knead the mixture in the bag once a day.
On the fourth day, preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Shape the mixture into six large logs, or any number of small locks, and place on a wire rack over a large drip pan. Bake for eight hours, then remove to cool. Use paper towels to drain and then store in bags in the fridge or freezer – a vacuum seal would be perfect for this. They’ll freeze for 6+ months.