So you want to make your own sausage? There are some basic tips and things you'll need to get started.

  • A meat grinder will allow you to purchase and grind your own meat. This will save you money, and control the grind on your sausage.

  • A sausage stuffer will make getting all that ground meat and other good stuff into the casings.

  • A meat mixer is optional, but if you're doing a lot of sausage, it will save time and pain.

  • Sausage casings come in different sizes and types depending on the sausage you want to produce.

  • Sausage making books

  • Sausage Links

  • Grinders

     You can purchase preground meat, but it will probably cost more. You'll also have no control over the grind density. There are some different options with a range of conveniences and prices.
     

    The first option is a hand grinder. These can be purchase new or watch for them at garage and estate sales. It is a slower process, but they work well if you don't mind some exercise.

    The second option is a electric grinder. These come in a variety of sizes, power options and costs. Likely for home use, the one pictured to the right is more than adequate. If you're doing large quantities of meat or start a small business, consider a larger grinder.

    The third option is a KitchenAid meat grinder attachment. If you already own a KitchenAid stand mixer, adding the meat grinder attachment is a inexpensive way to grind meat without adding another kitchen device. This device actually does a very good job of quickly grinding meat.

    *There is a sausage stuffer attachment, but read more about it below before purchasing it or as a set with the meat grinder.

    Stuffers

     Stuffers get the sausage meat mix into the casings. This is a process that can be frustrating if you don't have the right equipment. Below are a few options with some suggestions and tips.
     

    The first option is manual sausage stuffer often called a horn stuffer. They are smaller and often less expensive than larger sausage presses. Make sure you can attach it securely to a flat surface as you'll be putting some pressure down on the handle. These stuffers hold about 4-5 lbs of sausage and if you pack it right, keep air out of the casings.

    The second option is a vertical sausage stuffer. These come in a variety of sizes based on the pounds of sausage they can hold. For the small batch sausage maker, the 5 pound size is the best way to go. These stuffers allow you to drop the sausage into the stainless canister, and as you crank down the handle air is forced out a top valve. I've had no problem with air getting into the casing using this model. It disassembles easily for quick cleanup.

    The third option is a KitchenAid sausage stuffer. If you already own a KitchenAid stand mixer, and the meat grinder attachment, the sausage stuffer is a inexpensive way to grind meat without adding another kitchen device. This device does an adequate job of stuffing sausage, but isn't the best solution. It seems to introduce a lot of air into the casings with the meat. It also puts a lot of stress on the mixer and it gets quite hot.

    *There is a meat grinder and sausage stuffer kit.

    Mixers

     A meat mixer is optional and probably not necessary if you don't mind getting your hands into it. If you are going to do it manually, wash your hands well before and after and consider using food safe gloves. If you don't like getting your cold and greasy, or are doing large amounts of sausage, then a meat mixer might be the thing for you.
     

    There doesn't seem to be any small sizes (5-10 lbs) of meat mixers, but the 19 pound size shown will do smaller amounts too. The amount of cost and cleanup after made me think twice about this purchase, and so far I've resisted. I will admit that mixing four different batches of sausage by hand made me wonder if not feeling like I had frostbite might make it worth the investment.

    Casings

     Sausage casing is the tube material you stuff the sausage into. Historically casings have come from animals, most commonly pigs and sheep. Artificial collagen casings are also available and may be a better option depending on your sausage project.

     

    The hog casing is the larger size and used for dinner sausages. The normal size is 32-35mm but can vary as it is a natural product.
    These casings are packed in salt and there is enough to do about 20lbs of sausage. I've had the best luck when I've soaked these in warm water for at least a couple of hours after rinsing all the salt off of them. After soaking and shortly before stuffing, stretch the end of one casing over your sink faucet and slowly run water through the casing. Repeat for each casing. This will allow you to straighten the casing and also find any holes or defects in the casing.

    The sheep casing is the smaller size and is used for breakfast sausages and other smaller diameter sausages. The normal size is 19-26mm, but can vary as it is a natural product.
    These casings are packed in salt and there is enough to do about 20lbs of sausage. I've had the best luck when I've soaked these in warm water for at least a couple of hours after rinsing all the salt off of them. After soaking and shortly before stuffing, stretch the end of one casing over your sink faucet and slowly run water through the casing. Repeat for each casing. This will allow you to straighten the casing and also find any holes or defects in the casing.

    Collagen casings come in a wider variety of sizes than natural casings. They are made from beef protein and can be used for fresh or smoked sausage. They are more commonly used when you don't want the casing to be as visible like in a hot dog or snack sausage.
    Collagen casings are more brittle, and may not make links as well as the natural casings.

    Books

     

                 

    Sausage Links

     There are many sausage making resources, recipe sites and tips out there. Here are just a few of the ones I've found helpful.
     

    Suppliers

    LEM Products
    The Sausage Maker
     

    Recipes

    Let's Make Sausage
    Meat Processing Products

    Tips

    Sausage Mania