There was a time when sausage making at home would have been commonplace, along with the raising and butchering of livestock, home made wine, beer, and dying from a tetanus infection from a cut sustained while being self-sufficient.

So much for romanticising the culinary past.

David The Younger Teniers, Sausage Making, 1651

Sausage-making in itself is not difficult, but does require the willingness to deal with the rather slimy business of hog casings. Wearing food prep gloves is an option, but it does take all the fun out it.

Tips for sausage making:

Particularly in warm climates, it helps to make sure the meat and fat are very cold before grinding, even slightly frozen. The same goes for the grinder itself. This will help in emulsifying the fat and meat together, creating a better texture.

Do not attempt to grind and stuff the sausage at the same time unless you really enjoy a mealy texture. No one enjoys mealy textures.

Collagen casings are only good for vegan sausage, an abomination which should not exist. Use natural casings, skip stuffing the sausage all together, or do not bother making sausage at all. Collagen is for anti-wrinkle creams, not for sausage.

Unless working on a stainless steel table, cover the surface you will be working on with plastic wrap. Keep the surface and your hand slightly damp while stuffing the sausage. Both will help in maintaining the flow of the sausage rope.

Be sure to give the casings a nice long soak before stuffing, to prevent tearing and blow outs.

For a visual guide to sausage making, watch this great demonstration by Allrecipes UK|Ireland.

Pork and Quince Sausage

  • 600 g quince (approx. 2 large fruits)
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 2 g fennel seed, whole
  • 1800 g pork shoulder (approx. 15% fat)
  • 40 g kosher salt
  • 2 g black pepper, not too finely or coarsely ground
  • 20 g garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 5 to 6 feet 32-35 mm hog casing

If quince is not available, substitute apples or pears appropriate for cooking, or a mixture of the two. Choose a piece of pork shoulder (or Boston butt) which includes all the wonderful fat the cut is known for.

Peel and core the quince. Cut coarsely into wedges. Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the cut quince and lower the heat slightly. When the fruit begins to soften, add the brown sugar and fennel seed. Continue to cook, until the quince is soft and caramelized. Cool completely.

Trim as much of the silver skin as possible from the pork shoulder. Cut the meat and fat into 1″ pieces. Add the cooled quince and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Cover and allow to marinate overnight. Prepare the hog casings by rinsing well, inside and out, and soaking in warm water, refrigerating overnight.

Marinating pork, fat and quince.

Grind the sausage, again, not too finely, not too coarsely. Be sure to add any liquid from the marinade to the ground pork. With damp hands, knead the ground sausage, much as bread would be kneaded, until it begins to stick together.

If you’re not crazy enough to have a sausage stuffer at home, and you can’t be blamed if you don’t, the sausage cooks very nicely loose. Otherwise, fill the casings to a firmness just past that of the heel of the hand. To link the sausage, twist the casing in the opposite direction at every link, approximately every 6 inches or so.

The sausage will keep better if the casing is allowed to dry out before packaged for long term storage. Allow the sausage to rest loosely covered, refrigerated, overnight.

Cook the sausage by any desired method to an internal temperature of 150°F.


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