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  • Traditional Moroccan Mergeuz Sausage Recipe

    WILL TRUMP BAN OUR MERGUEZ SAUSAGES ?

    President Trump is nothing if not entertaining and his recent ban on visas of people from seven Middle East countries has been equally applauded and derided around the world.

    If Mr President is on a banning spree two products already made the list of illegal items include Kinder eggs, the ones with a toy in the centre, and traditionally made Scots Haggis.

    We are no strangers in the UK to banning things and people. Here it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament, because that entitles you to a State Funeral! The ban on Haggis is interesting, in place for hygiene reasons relating to sheep’s pluck. But there is a lot of culture in a sausage, try dishonouring a haggis on Burn’s Night in Glasgow, you’ll find out! So I wonder if  there are plans to keep America safe by banning Middle Eastern sausages?

    The sausage of choice throughout the region is a number of variations of the Merguez. It is a culturally sensitive sausage, sheep skins, lamb meat, sometimes lamb and beef. No pork.You can get them on almost any city street corner from Tunis in the West to Tehran in the East. From Damascus in the North to Mogadishu in the South. One version, Mirqaz dawwara is basically a thin haggis! So it might already be banned!

    But if you fancy making a quiet, silent protest to all this banning of things, why not try making this old Traditional Moroccan Merguez sausage recipe below:

     

    Ingredients you will need:

    • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
    • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
    • 2 teaspoons whole fennel seed
    • 2 tablespoons paprika
    • 30 g Kosher salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1.5 Kg lamb shoulder, minced
    • 250 g  beef fat, cut into 3 - 4 mm pieces
    • 6 - 8 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 80 ml harissa
    • 80 ml ice water
    • Lamb casings, soaked in 2 - changes of tepid water for 60 minutes in total

    Step-By-Step-Guide:

    Tip: Always chill your meat, sterilise your utensils.

    1, Put water in the freezer to chill and then transfer to the fridge.

    2, Put your sheep skins in tepid water to soak, change the water a couple of times. A drop of oil in the last water change will make them easier to load.

    3, Toast the seeds in a dry pan for 2 minuted over a medium heat and then grind in a mortar and pestle.

    4, Add the salt, paprika and cayenne pepper.

    5, Having ground your lamb and cut your fat place them in the refrigerator to keep cool.

    6, Place the meat, fat and spices into a bowl and mix well.

    7, Grind using a fine plate and transfer to the fridge to chill for 15 minutes while you load your skins onto the stuffing attachment.

    8, Add the water to the meat mixture and mix well to form a sticky stuffing.

    9, You can test for seasoning by cooking a small piece of the meat and adjust accordingly.

    10, Stuff your sausages and link at about 4 inches.

    11, Rest for 24 hours and cook, preferably on a smoky BBQ, though some variations are smoked.

  • Pork Pie Recipe

    So it starts, my Christmas preparations. Everything has to happen in December, no time for air drying. Up to my eyeballs in sausage skins, pie crust and hams in brine. I wouldn’t call it chaos, but fine and controlled, cool as Christmas, with the odd tempting mince pie peeping at me cooling on the rack. It always starts the same way, a Ceremony of Carols on the old CD player and we’re in the mood like Friar Tuck preparing for the Big Feast! Yes, turkey, pigs in blankets and ham are all important, but what I long for is the best pork pie. Hot water crust Pork Pie I used to make pork pie with allspice, thyme and parsley. The process has been made so much easier with the excellent Weschenfelder pork pie spice mix which is simple to use and very wholesome and tasty. Available to purchase, just click here

    Ingredients you will need

    For the filling:

    • 1 kilo pork shoulder
    • 200 g belly pork
    • 12.12 g Weschenfelder curing salt that comes with the kit
    • 12.12 g Weschenfelder pork pie spice mix
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (optional)

    Step-By-Step-Guide:

    1, Cool your pork and the mixing bowl in the fridge for a good 30 minutes.

    2, Cut the pork into 1 cm (1/2 inches) pieces. (You should remove the skin from the belly pork and also the rib at the end if there is one.)

    3, Add all the seasonings to the meat and mix well, then store for a good hour in the fridge while you make the crust.

    For the crust:

    • 800 g plain flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 350 g lard (12 oz)
    • 350 ml water (12 fl oz)

    Step-By-Step-Guide:

    1, Cut the lard into small cubes and place in the water and bring to the boil

    2, Add the salt to the flour and make a well

    3, Add the fat mixture (Be really careful with this, try not to let it spit)

    4, Stir with a wooden spoon and when cool enough use the hands to incorporate

    5, Leave to cool for at least an hour – or longer, the cooler the better (The pastry becomes firmer and more manageable as it cools)

    How to assemble the pie

    1, Roll out the pastry to about 5 mm and line the base of the tin, push into the corners, making sure you patch any broken pieces - you don’t want any of those juices to escape.

    2, Fill the pie with the meat, pushing down hard to close all the gaps

    3, Roll out the lid and seal with a fork. Make sure the lid is also pushed well into position, you can wash the edge of the base of the pie with milk or egg and force together to make a better seal if you like, but I have never bothered.

    4, Cut a hole in the top of the lid to allow steam to escape

    5, Wash the top with egg and bake at 180 C Gas 4 350 F for an hour before checking the temperature. It won’t be cooked at this time but check the temperature. In total a cooking time of 90 minutes is not unusual. You need a minimum of 75 C of 170 F for 15 minutes in the centre of the pie.

    And last but not least - making the jelly!

    Tip - You can use stock with some gelatin leaves in it to make a setting jelly or you can boil up pigs trotters with an onion and a piece of celery and a little salt

    1, Pour into the pie only when the pie is completely cold

    2, Wrap in foil to protect it from aromas and going soggy.

    Otherwise, eat cold and I bet it will be gone in a couple of days!

    Note: This pie will last for 7 days in the fridge, unopened.

  • Recipe Of The Month - Basque Pork In Cider

    Inspired by Tim's holiday walking in the high Pyrenees here is a great Basque style recipe for Pork Cassoulet with windfall apples, cider and cream.

    Basque Pork in cider with chorizo, mild chillies and windfall apples

    recipe-of-the-week-nov-16

    Ingredients you will need:

    • 800 g pork steaks diced
    • 500 ml cider
    • 2 Tbs olive oil
    • 1 onion chopped finely
    • 2 apples  cored, peeled and chopped
    • 100 g chopped chorizo
    • 2 mild chillies, seeded and sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 4 - 5 fresh sage leaves, or half a teaspoon of dried
    • 80 g sultanas
    • 100 ml double cream
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Step-By-Step-Guide:

    1, Put the pork in a dish and pour over the cider and leave for 90 minutes in a cool place

    2, In a large lidded pan heat your oil, add onion, chorizo, garlic and chillies and cook gently for a couple of minutes

    3, Add the pork steaks and cider it was marinaded in and bring to the boil

    4, Add the sage and apple simmer for 30 minutes on a low heat

    5, Add the sultanas, cover and simmer for 15 minutes

    6, Stir in the double cream and cook for  2 - 3 minutes, add seasoning to taste

    Serve with salted potatoes.

    To find out more, check out Paul Peacocks video

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGfVxchFlqM[/embed]

     

     

  • Paul Peacock's Biltong & Jerky Recipe

    Biltong is made from good quality steak such as sirloin, which is what i tend to use and make a kilo at a time. It 's pricey, but you get a great product.

    In America they have a process where they use minced, or ground as they call it, meat, and add to it various seasonings, bought in packets from the supermarket. Usually these are BBQ type seasonings they call ‘rub’, and sometimes they add salt to them, often they don’t. The meat is seasoned and then stuffed into a jerky gun, which resembles a large ratchet action mastic gun, the kind of thing you seal windows and bathrooms with. The resulting material is usually smoked and cooked – or hot smoked. The only real advantage, as far as I can see with this process is it allows you to use up off cuts and various pieces of meat, and cheaper cuts, but in terms of curing for keeping I have a single problem. Once minced, the meat has an amazingly large surface area, making it more likely that the meat can become more infected. Consequently it needs more salt, and in my opinion, too much more salt, to make it safe over time.

     

    Biltong & Jerky Recipe

    Ingredients you will need:

    • good quality steak
    • sea salt
    • coriander seeds
    • cracked peppercorns
    • worcester sauce

    Step-By-Step-Guide

    Note I haven’t given any quantities, you are simply adding and layering at this stage.

    1, Start by trimming most of the fat from the meat. Don’t try to get the marbling out! Actually, many people prefer venison for biltong because it is a lot leaner. You need a lidded plastic box for this recipe. Having trimmed the meat it needs to be cut. Long pieces, around 20 cm by no more than 1 cm - 2 cm wide is what you are looking for.

    2, Put a layer of salt, a thin layer, enough to touch the meat but nothing so much as to cover the base – a light sprinkling.

    3, Add your first layer of meat and splash Worcester sauce on it, again, not gallons of the stuff, enough to coat is enough.

    4, Then sprinkle sea salt over the meat, sparingly – it isn’t a coating, just a heavy seasoning.

    5, Then a sprinkling of coriander seeds, then peppercorns – sparingly with the pepper.

    6, Once this layer is done repeat with the layers of meat.

    7, Close the lid and leave in the fridge for seven days.

    8, At the end of this period, remove, wash and pat dry the meat and you start the dehydration process.

    9, I use a dehumidifier on its lowest setting, and it takes about three days to dry the meat completely. It changes colour from dark brown to a really dark brown. Your nose is the best arbiter of the meat’s fitness to eat. It should smell sweet, almost neutral. Certainly off smells are a sign the meat needs to be thrown away. Also the meat should not be spongy, but fairly hard to the touch.

    P.S. If you don’t have a dehumidifier you can use a box with gauze in the sides so it can be hung, the biltong completely protected on all sides from insects. Drying cabinets are available having temperature and humidity controls. It is humidity that is the enemy of biltong, so the drier you can make it the better. It can take ten or even 20 days in a box to completely dry biltong.

    Biltong should last a couple of weeks, kept in a dry container, but in our house it rarely does!

  • All About Beef Casings

    Natural Beef Casings are the largest in diameter of all the Natural Casings and have a range from 36mm wide, up to 130mm. The three types of Beef Casing most commonly used are Beef Runners (or Rounds), Beef Middles and Beef Bungs (or Caps).

    As you can see from the illustration (click the image to enlarge) the Runner is coiled inside the cow and this gives the casing its natural curve. The Beef Runner is used in the U.K. for Black Pudding and the curve is used to make those beautiful Bury Rings (or Rounds). They can range from 36mm wide up to 46mm. In contrast the Beef Middle is a straight casing that starts at 45mm and goes up to 65mm wide. This is the casing used for Salami as it hangs straight and expands and contracts with the meat and allows the Salami to ‘breath’. It is also used in the far north of Scotland for Mealy White Puddings and also in deepest Cornwall for Cornish Hogs Pudding. Finally Beef Bungs or Caps are made from what is actually the Cows Appendix which is about 80cm - 1 mtr. long. It is used on the Continent for Capocolla and Bologna, but is mostly used in the U.K, in Scotland for Haggis. A typical Beef Bung will make 4-5 cannon ball sized Haggis and gives this Scottish delicacy its traditional veined appearance. We also have Beef Bladders which are really large and oval shaped - used in Italy for Mortadella.
    We have a huge stock of all these speciality casings; don’t hesitate to ask if you want advice on the best casings for any speciality or charcuterie type product.
  • All About Hog Casings

    Natural Hog Casings are produced from the small intestine of the Pig and are always referred to as ‘Hog’ rather than ‘Pig’ casings and are sometimes called Hog Runners.   They are cleaned , graded, and cured in salt . They have a range from 28mm upto large 46mm wide. The most commonly used casing is  the Runner , but  the Chitterling, the Bung and the Fatend are also used for speciality products.

    As you can see from the illustration (click once to enlarge) the runner is coiled inside the pig and this gives the casing it’s natural curve, and there are approx. 20 yards of casing before processing. Once the runners have been cleaned they are flushed with water and graded and cut according to their width and then measured up into bundles before being cured in salt. The casings are normally graded 28/30mm, 30/32, 34/36 and 38/40 and 40/+.

    Natural  Hog Casings are used in the UK for most ‘thick’ Butchers fresh sausage including  Cumberland Rings, Lincolnshire, BBQ  and Boerewors , and are used in vast quantities and in all sizes on the continent and in Germany in particular for Bratwursts and Frankfurters , in Spain for Chorizo , and in Eastern Europe for Kielbasa and smoked sausages. The list is huge!  They are more ‘robust’ than Sheep Casings and are often used by beginners as they are easy to handle and link. Filled nicely they will give the fresh sausage a good ‘bloom’ and being a natural product they expand and contract with the meat.  Being a strong casing they are ideal for hanging,  boiling , steaming , grilling , smoking and the BBQ .  A typical 34/36 casing will fill approx. 1lb of sausage per yard.  Hog Casings are sold in bundles either dry salted , or in brine , and are now available ready spooled.  All our Hog Casings are of British origin and are available either in small packs of 40mtrs or butcher packs of 80mtrs.

    The Chitterling , Bung and Fatends are all more specialized casings widely used in Europe but not commonly used in the UK , though this is changing with the increased interest in Charcuterie type products.  The Chitterling ,or Hog Middle,  is sold in pieces of approx. 1mtr and is used for types of dried French Saucisson, Liver Sausage and Italian Salami Frisses.  The Hog Bung or Fatend  are sold individually and are used in huge quantities in Germany and Eastern Europe for Liver Sausage and Branschweiger.

  • Tre Spade Italian Machinery

    All About Tre Spade Products

    The Trespade range of butchery and kitchen machinery have established themselves as one of the leading brands in the UK for quality, small-scale Meat Processing equipment for the production of charcuterie products.  We are proud to be their main UK distributor and can sell their full range of equipment with complete confidence having over 10 years of experience in the quality of their engineering and the years of craftsmanship that has evolved to the product range we now stock.

    The company has been in Torino for over 100 years in an area known as Canavese which has a long and proud history of smelting and the production of forged steel products. The interlocking three swords is their brand symbol and first appeared on their coffee grinders in 1894! All of the Trespade Sausage Stuffers, Manual and Electric  Mincers, Vacuum Packing machines and other equipment are all made in their factory in Torino in Northern Italy.  Click on the video link below to see the Trespade Video or find their products on our website.

    http://youtu.be/EGz2iBpLwHo

    If you are interested in the Trespade range of Pepper and Salt grinders please visit our new websitewww.trespade.co.uk.

  • Bringing The Bacon Home

    'Bringing the Bacon Home' an article from guest author Paul Peacock

    Perhaps one of the most liberating and eye opening discoveries I ever made was how to make bacon. Until then I thought it was a food that always was made in a factory and sold to the rest of us in shops. The difference between good and bad bacon was, to me at least, measured in how cheaply the company made it.

    Then I discovered bacon, and it changed my life.

    Actually, bacon has been the British staple meat for 1500 years from a time when large monasteries in the north, and ennobled farms in the south fed the poor with quality bacon to the days when every home had a pig and every family knew how to preserve the meat with salt.

    What meat is best for bacon?

    Streaky bacon comes from belly pork, which can be bought in whole sheets from your butcher, or if you are having your own animal slaughtered, can simply be trimmed square ready for curing.

    Back bacon comes from loin , the muscles that run the length of the back of the animal, and is much less fatty.

    There are other cuts, middle being a combination of streaky and back, and is quite difficult to get hold of because its butchering can be quite wasteful. You can also use shoulder or leg for producing bacon, and offcuts for creating lardons and small cuts.

    Curing

    Essentially, curing is the preserving process, and involves salt. This works in two ways, firstly it draws water from the meat, and as bacteria in the meat have a reduced water availability, they cannot grow so rapidly. It also chemically poisons bacteria and other spoiling organisms.

    Then the cure also adds flavour, and many curing recipes have spices and sugars as a fundamental part of the curing recipe.

    Curing salt

    As an added precaution, curing mixtures use curing salt, which has a small percentage of saltpeter added to act as a special ingredient that deals with the highly dangerous botulinum bacterium. Any bacon destined for consumption by a third party, either sold or otherwise, must be made with curing salt.

    It is not possible to make your own curing salt: in order to adequately mix the saltpeter completely evenly, a machine is needed. Thankfully, it is quite inexpensive.

    How to cure

    There are essentially two methods of curing, wet and dry.

    Wet cure

    A wet cure is made by boiling curing salt and other substances in a large pan. Removing the scum and allowing to cool before pouring over the cut of meat you wish to cure.

    The meat is turned over daily for about three to seven days, and then removed, washed and allowed to dry. Clearly, the penetration of salt to the centre of the meat is an issue on some  cuts, when a brine pump is used to inject cure directly into the centre of the muscle.

    Typically, a two kilo piece of meat is cured for three to seven days an an appropriate spice / cure mix, and thence another day  per extra  kilo after that. The meat is soaked in a large, food grade, lidded polythene container, strong enough to take the size and weight of the materials.

    Sometimes, when you are curing a lot of meat, it is advisable to pour off the cure half way the process and replenish with fresh.

    Wet cure recipe

    My favourite cure is as follows:

    20 litres of water

    2.5 kilo’s curing salt

    300 g dark sugar

    1 bottle of stout (optional)

    1 tablespoon of mustard (English)

    2 tablespoons of crushed black peppercorns

    You can buy ready made wet cures such as the Weschenfelder ‘Quick Cure’, for curing hams, tongue and other cuts as well as making bacon.

    Dry cure

    This is the mainstay of home curing and always produces consistent results. This way a measured amount of cure is rubbed into all the meat surfaces, everywhere, not missing any nook and cranny. This is then placed into a food grade, lidded container and after 24 hours the meat is removed, and the liquor drained away. Fresh cure is then applied in the same way and the meat returned to the box for another 24 hours.

    Each day the amount of liquor is reduced and the bacon is ready for cutting in around five to seven days.

    Dry cure recipe

    2 kilos curing salt

    250 g sugar (of any type you prefer)

    2 tablespoons of crushed black peppercorns

    50 g finely chopped correander

    20 g chopped mint

    The herbs are optional, but if it is Christmas I add a couple of crushed cloves too - just for a nice Christmassy flavour. You can buy ready made Weschenfelder cures, such as the ‘Supracure’  or the ‘Laycock’s Dry’ with everything you need to make great bacon every time.

    The bacon is washed and dried and stored in the refrigerator.

    All bacon cured either wet or dry should last around a fortnight in the fridge. If you need it to last longer, add another 24 hours for every additional week.

    Wash and cut

    When the bacon is cured, wash it and dry. I find it more convenient to slice the bacon and vacuum pack, storing in the freezer when the quantity warrants it. I always test a slice before cooking a batch, and if too salty, I soak in water for  30 minutes before retesting.

    You can use a good sharp knife for slicing, but eventually you will want a bacon slicer to make a real professional job of it. After all, you have gone to all that trouble!

  • All About Sheep Casings

    All About Sheep Casings

    Natural Sheep Casings are the thinnest and most delicate of all the Natural Casings and range in size from 16mm up to 28mm. Sometimes referred to as Sheep Runners they are the most commonly used natural casings after Hog Casings. They are cleaned, graded and cured in salt.

    As you can see from the illustration (click to enlarge) the runner is coiled inside the sheep and this gives the casing its natural curve. There is also approximately 25 yards of casing before processing begins. Once the runners have been cleaned they are all flushed and graded with water and cut according to their width before being measured up into bundles and cured in salt. The casings are normally graded by width 16/18mm, 18/20mm, 20/22mm, 22/24mm and either 24/+mm or 24/26 and 26/+ mm. On the continent they are also graded by strength into ‘A’ grade, ‘A/B’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ grades.

    Here in the U.K. the most commonly used sizes are the 22/24 mm, and the 24/+ mm in ‘A/B’ grade which U.K. butchers use for their premium thin sausage. At Christmas huge quantities of 18/20 and 20/22 Sheep Casings are used for chipolatas. They are more delicate to handle than Hog Casings but this also means that when the final customer bites into the cooked sausage you are not even aware there is a skin on them!

    They are used for most premium thin fresh sausages, but also for Frankfurters, Hot Dogs, thin Bratwursts such as Nurembergers and for Pepperoni style dried sausages. They are used in simply vast quantities in Germany who import Sheep Casings from all over the world and in particular New Zealand and Australia. Filled nicely they will give a sausage a lovely curve, a good ‘bloom’, and being a natural product they expand and contract with the meat. A typical 24/+ mm Sheep Casing will fill approximately 1.5 lbs of sausage for every 2 yards of runner. Sheep Casings are sold in bundles either dry salted or in brine and are now available ready spooled. All our Sheep Casings are of British origin and are available either in small packs of 40 meters or butcher packs of 80 meters.

  • The Virtues Of Home Sausage Making

    Why home sausage making is good for you, with hints and tips from guest authour Paul Peacock.

    There are so many things you can say about making sausages at home.

    Are they cheaper? Yes, a little.

    Are they tastier? Oh yes, very much so.

    Are they healthier? Absolutely!

    But the main thing you can say about sausage making is “IT’S GREAT FUN!”

    Indeed, the very first time we decided to make sausages, got the skins and the equipment together and made our first batch in our little town house kitchen, we literally rolled around the place crying with laughter.

    But humour aside, the reasons behind continuing to make sausages are founded in the questions we posed at the beginning.

    Homemade sausages are cheaper

    Well, anyone can buy the really cheap sausages that disappoint every time you eat one. The cheapest sausages will always be dirt cheap, but these don’t compare with sausages you make at home.  Take meat content and the quality of that meat as an example. The cheapest sausages are around 33% meat, and not particularly good meat at that. Home made sausages are more like 75% meat - and boy! You can tell the difference.

    Homemade sausages are tastier

    The meat content alone makes a huge difference to how a sausage tastes, but it’s more than just that. Homemade sausages are made from the freshest materials, and added flavours are new, pungent, more vital than sausages sat on a shelf in a supermarket.

    But there are subtleties about sausages that can only really be appreciated when you make them yourself, fresh. The various types of sausage skins available for sausages have their own effect when it comes to the gourmet experience of sausages! A sausage resting on a shelf often doesn’t have the bite on the teeth, that resistance before giving way releasing a mouthful of juicy sausage.

    The homemade sausage is a different matter, only when you have tasted the best of homemade will you understand how brilliant they are!

    Homemade sausages are healthier

    The fundamental idea of sausage is that it is salted. This is how the meat within them is preserved, and it is the salt, preserving salt with saltpeter added, that reduces the action of spoiling bacteria in the sausage.

    But bought sausages often contain chemicals designed to keep them looking palatable in the shop, to prolong their shelf life to give the store extra time to sell them, and then there are stabilizers and colourants and often a lot of other chemicals too.

    Your sausages, made at home, might only have four ingredients:

    Meat - with a little fat

    Breadcrumbs (or rusk)

    Water

    Salt

    What can be healthier than that?

    What makes a good sausage?

    To make a good sausage you need good, wholesome ingredients. And there is a reason for all the ingredients, too. They are not there simply to make meat go a but further - they are not bulking agents.

    Meat

    You can use almost any kind of meat in sausages. Obviously pork sausages are the most common, but you can use beef, venison, lamb, chicken, even fish!

    Generally, sausages need fat. On the whole, a good sausage has around 10% fat and pork shoulder is just about this ratio. The fat is needed for many reasons. In some sausages, like chorizo, the fat is a part of the combination of elements that preserve the air dried, uncooked, sausage. In an old fashioned English breakfast sausage, it is part of the complex cocktail of flavours. A sausage without fat is often uninteresting, dry and difficult to cook.

    Breadcrumbs

    You can make breadcrumbs at home, or buy rusk, which is generally gluten free. Most butchers use rusk, which imparts a savoury flavour of its own. The rusk (or breadcrumbs) is not there to bulk out the sausage, but to evenly distribute the cooking juices within the sausage. Without breadcrumbs, the fat and water in the meat would pool, giving you an almost inedible mess.

    Most sausages are about 10% - 15% breadcrumbs.

    Water

    Another mistakenly thought about ingredient. Water is an important part of a sausage, without which the sausage would not fit in the skins, and most importantly, it wouldn’t cook either. The main function of water in the sausage is to cook the food from the inside. Otherwise you would have a perfect insulator, burning on the bottom and remaining raw in the middle.

    Sausages are around 10% water.

    Salt

    As we said, the word sausage means salted. Many off the shelf sausages are very high in salt, and some even have sugar added to disguise the saltiness! However, it is not possible to make a sausage without salt!

    Most home made sausages are around 2% salt, a little lower than those in the shop. But never reduce the amount of salt from a recipe - it is there to preserve you from spoiling bacteria.

    Other flavours

    You can ass almost anything to a sausage to flavour it. My favourite is simply salt and pepper, but onion with beef, pork and apple, herbs such as sage and coriander, parsley and garlic - all of these and more are regularly used to make sausages.

    In the UK, every county used to have it’s own breed of pig, and with it it’s own recipe for sausages. Some of them still exist, Lincolnshire, Cumberland, Somerset and so on.

    How to know if you have added enough flavours.

    If you try 1/2 % of the weight of meat used as a rough guide, mix the whole of your sausage recipe - meat, water, breadcrumbs, salt etc, then make a little pate of a small amount of the meat and cook it completely. You should be able to gauge how effective the flavours have become in your pate, and adjust accordingly. At 1’2 %, you will not have overpowered the sausage.

    A word about skins

    There are two types of sausage skin. Artificial skins and animal skins. Even the artificial skins come from animal origin, so there is no such thing as a truly vegetarian skin.

    Animal skins come packed in salt, either tied to a ring, or loaded on a tube. They need soaking to remove the salt, and then transferring onto a delivery tube of your stuffer. This is easier if everything is wet, and the skins have been soaking in cold water for about 45 minutes.

    Usually the delivery tubes come in three sizes to match the sizes of the available sausage skins. For the majority of cases pork skins (known as hog skins) of 22mm diameter are the easiest ones to start with. You can buy sheep skins that are smaller, or beef ones that are much larger, depending on the recipe you are following.

    You can get very large skins for black pudding, and even larger ones for haggis!

    Filling

    Having mixed all the ingredients evenly and completely, tested for flavour, you are ready to fill your skins. I suggest you think of something very sad before you start, to avoid laughing your head off during the process.

    How I started

    Our fist sausage making session cost me £20. I bought a small plastic stuffer / grinder from Weschenfelder, some skins and made up a recipe of my own:

    2 Kg ground pork shoulder

    200 g breadcrumbs

    200 ml water

    20g curing salt

    4g black pepper

    Mixed the lot and while it was mixing, soaked my skins in water.

    I remover the cutter plates and the ‘knife’ from inside the mincer and sterilized everything with Milton. The skins were a b it tricky. Having salted them, they rolled over each other like an alien, and to open the end I ran a dribble of water into one of the skins.

    Loading the skin onto the plastic delivery tube was easy so long as the plastic was wet, and once fully loaded, the skin was cut off. Be careful - this process is where the laughing begins!

    Don’t knot the skin - just leave a couple of inches dangling off the end, and as the meat comes out, it will drag the skin off the delivery tube.

    Take a small handful of mixture and, turning the crank, force the meat into the hopper and into the tube, and out into the skin. Continue the process until all the meat is gone!

    Linking

    Well, it’s embarrassing. My skills of describing how to link in threes aren’t good enough to show you how to do it. And why bother? To link, first of all, knot the end you didn’t knot at the beginning. Then decide how long the sausage is to be.

    Use your fingers to make a little dent in the sausage where you want to link, and twist it round three or four times. Then, the next one twist in the other direction!

    If only I had known, I would have done it this way

    At Weschenfelders you can buy sausage spices. They have lots of different packs for you to make amazing sausages - all you add is meat, water and breadcrumbs (or rusk). The correct amount of salt is included, and if you mix them well, you get an amazing result. I recently made some ‘Old Yorkshire’ seasonings, but you can get all kinds, many organic, all blummin fantastic.

    I’ll let you into a secret, these seasonings are used by nearly all the butchers in the country - when you buy your local butchers ‘Award Winning Sausages’ you can more or less bet your shirt that they came from one of these packs.

    They make sausage making at home easy, fun, and you can guarantee perfect results.

    Getting stuffed

    You can buy all kind of stuffing implements, I am making a collection of them. Perhaps my favourite is the hand cranked grandma’s mixers that are so useful for all kinds of tasks in the kitchen, and once bought, they last for ever!

    I’d say it is a small investment for a lifetime’s supply of brilliant sausages!

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