Smoking Sausage 101

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by hickorybutt, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    So I've been searching through the threads for a few minutes trying to get a detailed overview of sausage smoking but can't seem to find any "one-stop shop" type place that provides info on sausage smoking basics.

    I've never smoked any type of sausage before.  Been smoking for a few years now and learned plenty along the way, but I've always stuck to pork shoulder, ribs, chicken, & brisket.

    Can someone (or several) provide a good overview of sausage smoking?  Once I learn how to smoke sausage, I'll likely try and start making my own (I know there are plenty of recipes on here).

    I'd like to know:

    - What are some of the more popular types and styles of links?

    - What is the standard process for cold smoking?

    - Can you hot smoke sausage?

    - What is the difference in the end product between cold vs. hot smoking??

    I was in Dallas a couple months ago and had some good Texas style smoke sausage at Hard 8 BBQ.  Now I have a sausage fever...
  2. I'll chime in with a few of my personal answers for these. I'm sure a ton more will come.

    - What are some of the more popular types and styles of links? I can't say that one style is more popular than another really. You can smoke most any type of sausage. I personally love a smoked Louisiana style green onion sausage.

    - What is the standard process for cold smoking? Cold smoking is done usually at temps lower than 80 degrees or so. You shouldn't cold smoked a sausage that hasn't been properly cured with either Cure #1 or Cure #2. You'll learn much more about those from smarter people than me and when you start making your own.

    - Can you hot smoke sausage? To start, this would be how you'd want to smoke a store bought sausage. Smoke at 225 until IT gets to 165 and pull.

    - What is the difference in the end product between cold vs. hot smoking?? Cold smoked sausage is technically uncooked and should be cooked to a safe IT before eating. Hot smoking is just cooking with smoke just like above. I say technically uncooked for cold smoking because some processes when making salami call for cold smoking after the fermenting stage and then drying. This is a safe to eat product in the end but not really "cooked".

    Now come the really smart people to help. Lot's of amazing and smart people on here.
    hickorybutt likes this.
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Smoke penetration.....

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  4. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks guys

    So even with "cold smoking", do you still get that 'snap' when you bite into the casing?
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  5. Cold smoking isn't cooking so no you'll get nothing but a raw mouthful of raw sausage and casing....please don't do this :). Cold smoking also warrants the use of curing techniques prior to smoking.
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    cold smoking just adds the smoke... Then you will need to cook them..... raise the temp in steps until the internal temp is 150 ish and hold for an hour or so... or steam to final temp or place in simmering water until final temp...
  7. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    This is exactly what I was looking for.  Makes sense now.

    So you start them out cold smoking to make sure the smoke can actually penetrate through the casing and slowly bring the heat up to cook them to an IT of 150-160?  And I would guess the cure in the link is what keeps the meat from spoiling because it will be between 40-140 IT for longer than the 'safe zone' - am I correct?
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes.... and any of the minor bacteria that grow will be killed with the final Internal Temp/Time of the sausage.... Or so it say's in fine print somewhere....

    The cure, eliminates the possibility of botulism growing in the meats.... The meat is in the "PRIME" temperature range, for a long time, where botulism flourishes, in the lack of oxygen atmosphere that smoking creates.... Low oxygen environment, moisture, temperature and a non-acidic environment are a breeding ground for botulism...


    Several conditions must be present for the germination and growth of Clostridium botulinum spores. Acid level is a primary factor. A pH near 7 or neutral favors the growth of Clostridium botulinum, while growth is inhibited at a pH of 4.6 or lower. The pH of a food also influences the amount of heat needed to kill C. botulinum spores; the higher the pH, the greater the level of heat needed.

    A second important factor affecting the growth and toxin production is temperature. Proteolytic types grow between 55 and 122 degrees F, with most rapid growth occurring at 95 degrees F. Nonproteolytic types grow between 38 and 113 degrees F, with an optimum for growth and toxin production at about 86 degrees F. For these types, refrigeration above 38 degrees F may not be a complete safeguard against botulism.

    Another important condition affecting the growth of Clostridium botulinum is the presence of oxygen. These organisms can’t grow if air or free oxygen is present in their microenvironment (the area immediately next to them). This area is so small that it is not readily observed. Therefore, it is possible to have conditions develop in a food system or wound whereby it appears that lots of air is available, but in reality there are areas where no air is present and anaerobic organisms, such as Clostridium botulinum, if present, can germinate and grow. Anaerobic conditions develop when food is canned. If the food is not heated enough to kill the spores of Clostridium botulinum, the spores will germinate and grow during subsequent storage of the food.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You should really read some of the posts by Nepas, Boyko, Driedstick, let see there's a few more sausage kings here... Their posts are all very detailed with recipes and methods.
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Oh yeah Chef Willie, Reinhard, Cougar78.
  11. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes, that's the basic concept. Many will use cure #1 even if hot smoking as the cure will help with color retention so the sausage is not just a plain gray. As you use the search bar more you will find most guys will step up about 10 degrees a pop so the sausage doesn't start to 'fat out' on you. I'm still fairly new at sausages so not an expert by any means BUT, I've found I prefer to smoke for just a few hours (2-3) then finish with a simmering, not boiling, water poach to the magic IT of 165. Great snap to the casings, I know they are fully cooked (I share a lot), a few minutes on the grill or saute pan and the color is beautiful. Now I'm hungry for a sausage....There are SO many kinds to make I rarely make the same one twice.....although favorites are a Texas Red Hot Link, a good Italian, anything Cajun, Krautwurst, a Chaurice, a Swedish is good....Andouille is on the short list as is a Thai street vendor style sausage.....
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  12. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    whoop whoop.....I'm flattered and humbled by the 'honorable mention' amongst such other great sausage heads.....muchas gracias
  13. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Remember, don't expect to throw cure in and cold smoke any sausage. The cure does change both the taste and the texture of the meat in the sausage. It can be the entire difference between a sausge being one type or another.

    I really hate to say this, but another boardmember talked me into buying a "Morton Meat Curing Guide", it is at the most basic level..... I thought to basic, but........ I still go back and reference it occassional. It is sort of to cured meats what the "Ball Blue Book" is to canning and preserving. I am embarassed to say sometimes I will get some stupid question in my mind, and once you return to the basics it really pretty easy to figure it out. But ................. Thats just me, my memory seems to be lagging behind a bit these days, its wanders and I usually follow after it. LOL

    I usually wait to come to a master until I have researched and exhausted my limited reference libary.  There are some amazing sausage makers here to learn from. I will suggest you find one sausage, your favorite, and stay with it till you are mostly happy. AND KEEP NOTES!!!!  There is nothing worse than doing something which you think is just standard fare, it comes out outstanding and you can't replicate the results because you thought it too simple. It has happened to everyone here!

    BTW Don't forget to check out Pop's WORLD FAMOUS Breakfast sausage.  I try to stay true to a recipe's weights and measures when doing sausage, and often have some ground meat leftover. If you have not made Pop's breakfast suasage, try it. I now buy a butt pack just for breakfast sausage! I was affraid it was too much and would burn or go rancid in the freezer before I could eat it all, believe me that isn't the problem. ROFLMAO
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  14. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Great info here guys. Thanks!

    I've got a sausage stuffer on my Christmas list...
  15. darwin101

    darwin101 Meat Mopper

    Start researching now and find the places that sell them.  Subscribe to their special offers emailings or watch the sites, seems like they have good sales for the holidays.  The good folks on this site are also great at pointing out special deals.  [​IMG]    Can be a big help if you need everything and want to save a few dollars.
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  16. reinhard

    reinhard Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Lot's of great information on this thread already, but I would add one more thing here.  I make sausage all year long, however this is the time for a lot of us sausageheads, that the grinder and stuffer gets a little more action than in any other part of the year.   So keep asking questions and keep looking at this sausage forum for new threads and threads from the past.  Sausage making is a adventure that never ends.  Each one of us have different ways of making sausage.  Not that much different but in the end i'ts about personal preference.  We all learn from each other.  I have learned from the great guy's [and gals] on this site.  Chef recently had a recipe for Octoberfest Sausage.  I saw the ingredients and had to try it.  Great stuff!!  That's just one example of learning something new and finding a sausage that you will be making again and again.  Next up for me will be polish sausage and I will be sharing that here when done.  Reinhard
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  17. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

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  18. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks Reinhard. I run a stick burner, so I think the best time for me to do sausage will be in another few weeks when the temp starts getting colder. I will be able to keep my smoker temp cooler if it's cold outside.

    DS - awesome post in the taco sticks. Very good stuff! Thanks for sharing.

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