Yesterday morning John and Carol and I ventured out to pick up our meat from the meat market. After we paid our bill, three men began to carry out card board boxes laden down with frozen packages of meat cuts. Box after box was carried out from a side door of the building and placed in the back of John’s car. I was a little concerned that they all might not fit. John’s boxes contained pork cuts from two of the pigs, and ours contained two pigs and cow. One of the two pigs in our boxes will eventually go to a friend of ours.
Once we got to John and Carol’s house, where we keep our two freezers, we had to unload all the packages. It is safe to say that we will not go hungry this winter. Both freezers are full and thats without putting in four hams and a huge bag of sausage. The hams will have to be cured and then smoked.
I took the package of sausage home with me and prepared to take on the task of making link sausage. I have never done this before so it was another new experience. Sonny bought me a nice stainless steel sausage press. We bought a package of natural casings too. You have to soak them for about a half an hour to wash off the salt that is used to preserve them. I have to say when I opened the bag I was not expecting the odor that rose out of it. YUK! But it went away as they soaked and were rinsed. On the other hand the sausage smelled heavenly. We had maple seasoning mixed into it and although I have not tried any yet, I am sure it will taste delicious.
There is a plastic tube that attaches to the press where the sausage is formed and is pushed into the casing. The casing is shoved onto the tube sort of like a glove and as the sausage is pushed into it, it glides off. You have to use one hand to wind the press and one hand to guide the sausage link off the tube.
Since this was new to me and I wanted to get the hang of it, my first attempt was a long sausage rope. We can just cut off what we want to use.
Then I tried twisting the casing between each link. Again we can just cut off what we want.
I was getting used to the mechanism and how it worked, so I knotted the end of the casing, filled it to make a link, cut and knotted the other end. This made individual links. I like that better, because I think it will be easier when it comes time to cook them.
I used about half of the bag of sausage to make the links and the rest I put into one pound packages so we can make patties for a change. Sonny likes links and I prefer the patties.
This afternoon Carol and I started curing the hams. She has a second refrigerator in her basement that we will use to keep the hams cold during the process. We applied a sugar/salt cure to each of the hams. In seven days we will repeat the process, then after another seven days they have to be soaked and rinsed. I believe they have to rest for a few weeks longer and then we will smoke them. Our hams weighed between thirteen and fifteen pounds a piece. Soon the aroma of smoking hams will meander through the holler on a crisp autumn breeze. Life is good.