Sausage making

Only simple equipment and a little elbow grease is needed to make tasty home made snags. p.s. make sure everything is VERY clean and cold prior to starting food prep

Some time ago a mate of mine from work, Sean and I got onto the topic of sausage making. We both really like the idea of making our own hardy, home made food, which is both healthier and tastier than what you can buy at your local super market. So on the weekend we finally decided to take the plunge and make some sausages!

The idea was to use as many ingredients that we already had in the garden and the rest we buy from local food markets, game butchers and the supermarket as a last resort. All of the ingredients ended up being easy to find. Here’s a list.

– Minced meat: Kangaroo (game butcher), pork shoulder (butcher) and lamb and pork mince (supermarket) – Meats high in fat usually produce the tastiest sausages and 20-30% fat content is normal. Most of the sausages we made were probably a fair bit lower in fat, especially the leaner kangaroo meat, which may mean a slightly drier sausage after cooking.

– Natural sausage casings can be purchased from most local butcher shops and for around $5 you can grab enough casings to make 8kg worth of sausages so its pretty cheap

– Spices and flavours: Its all about what might go well with different meats. We chose 2 flavours for each meat (6 different flavours in total). Flavours like mint, rosemary and garlic for lamb sausages or chili and onion with kangaroo work well together

– Salt: helps to preserve and flavour the sausages properly, add it to all sausages. Ratios for different meats can be found on the internet

– Equipment: plenty of bowls, somewhere to hang the sausages (preferably in a cold place), hand wind/electric mincer with sausage fitting, sharp knife

After preparing all the spiced mince meat make sure it goes back into the fridge/freezer to remain very cold (it helps when running the meat through the sausage machine). Gather up the casings (photo above) and string out roughly what you think you will need to thread onto the sausage nozzle, rinse twice and run some water through the inside of the casings once. Try not to tangle the casings when you are handling them.

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Mincing with a hand grinder is not a quick job but they are cheap to buy and give you muscles 🙂
We minced up 1kg of pork shoulder in this machine and it took about 20 mins so it is probably easier to buy pre-minced meat and only use the mincer for filling sausages.

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Threading the casings onto the nozzle is easy and it feels really weird.

Feeding sausages is an easy job with two people. One to feed the mince and one to wind and control the width of the meat going into the casing.

Keeping the snags flowing

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Keep churning the sausage machine until you change meats or until you finish. We found that if you leave both ends untied until the end it helps to keep the air out of the casings, you can then tie the sausages without too much trouble.

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After hanging the sausages for about an hour to drip dry we poked any air pockets with sterilized needles. After this point you can refrigerate or freeze the final product

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The finished product, which left the kitchen smelling very meaty

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After 4 and a half hours, 42 freshly made sausages and a few beers we were pretty happy with the final results

Update: So far the lamb and pork sausages have been cooked and they were really tasty. The pork and fennel was quite strong and a fair bit drier than store bought sausages, which was a nice change from all that grease.

Building a Cheese Press

The finished press (exc. Mold, pusher and linseed oil finish). The legs and vertical poles are galvanized, the drip tray is a simple cake pan. Dumbbell weights will be used to push down on the top board.

After some cool results with our other dairy products I think we are nearly ready to give hard cheeses a go, but before we get stuck in we are going to need some sort of press. After all, by draining the whey and pressing the curds we can achieve a hard, moisture free cheese that will safely age at temperatures which would usually spoil soft cheeses and other dairy products.

You could get away with a makeshift press but I’m going to show you another way. The design here is based on a few presses that I found while browsing the web but I have added and changed a couple of things. One important thing to consider when thinking materials is that the bottom and top board must be able to withstand and accommodate 25kg (50lbs) of weight. This is usually the most weight that will be used during pressing.

The cost involved in building a press can be next to nothing to very expensive indeed, depending on the materials used and how nice you want it to look. As soon as I realized that I was going to need a press I thought about what I could use that was already available to me. I knew that there was plenty of nice old timber at the farm and a cake pan at home, as well as some old dumbbell weights that could come in handy later. I did need to buy the gal legs and uprights ($5.00 each) but you could get away with timber dowel uprights beveled into the based (no legs) if you wanted to do it cheap.

Here are some photos, which will hopefully help to explain the process.

Drilling 22cm holes 3cm in from each corner. Be sure to attach a bottom board and drill into NOT through this extra board, this will ensure that the underside of your timber doesn't split. You will need 2 boards 400 x 250mm or larger for the press.

The top board can be used as a guide to mark the holes for the bottom board. Note: the top board needs 25mm wide holes to accommodate free movement when sliding on the 21mm gal poles, the bottom board only needs 22mm holes. The gal feet are high enough to ensure that the timber doesn't get wet + a pan can be placed under the whey drip tray.

Making a traditional timber finish is as simple as boiling some raw linseed oil. The Boiled linseed found in hardware stores usually contains chemical drying agents, which I don't really want on my cheese press. Boiling raw linseed somehow allows it to dry faster once cooled and applied. The old saying for oil application goes "Apply once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year and once a year forever". Note: this timber finish is not a waterproofing treatment but hopefully with the drip pan in place I wont be getting the timber wet anyway.

The timber I used and was lucky enough to have available to me is Australian Red Cedar (Toona ciliata var. australis). It is one of the rarest and finest furniture timbers in Australia, with much of it logged in the pioneer days. This press is particularly special to me because of this and the colour and smell of the timber is just magnificent.

If you have any questions or suggestions on any of my blog posts by all means throw me a message. One more thing, does anyone have any experience with setting up a cheese fridge or something similar for aging hard cheeses?