Questions about shipping
If you are having problems getting an order through for whatever reason, please do just make a note of the items you want and call us on 01642 241395 and if we can not solve the problem, we will take the order over the phone. We are open 8.30am to 4.30pm and we will process your order quickly and in a friendly manner.
Our office and phone lines are open Monday to Friday 8.30am through to 4.30pm.
Questions about contacting us
Here at Weschenfelders, we endeavour to help our customers as much as possible. Therefore if you have any questions, need any advice or if you are just stuck and in need of a little help, please feel free to contact us and we will strive to help you. Either on the "Contact Us" page, by phone on 01642 241395 or if you would like to send us a letter - our address is Weschenfelder Direct Ltd, 10 Copeland Court, Riverside, Middlesbrough TS2 1RN. We are open from 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday. So please feel free to contact us, we look forward to hearing from you!
Questions about Natural Sausage Casings
A lot of websites and books say that Hog Casings are the easiest to use for beginners. They are certainly more robust and easier to thread over the nozzle of your stuffer, but we feel with just a little more patience the Sheep Casings are not that much harder. We would advise to make the size of sausage you really prefer and choose the casings accordingly. Hog Casings will make a thicker Cumberland or BBQ type of sausage while Sheep Casings make a thinner 'chipolata' or breakfast sausage. For ease of use, the pre spooled casings are a great option for beginners.
All the Natural Casings are cured in salt and then vacuum packed before despatch. They all have a six month shelf life and we recommend they are kept in a tupperware container in the bottom of a fridge. You can freeze the Beef Casings and the Hog Casings but the Sheep Casings are a little more delicate and can lose some of their quality when frozen.
Questions about Curing
The word ‘salt’ is a scientific description that we need not go into for the purposes of curing. However, what we know as common salt, Sodium chloride, has long been used to preserve fish and meat. It works because water is powerfully attracted to the constituents of salt, and will dilute it. If there is enough salt, the water inside poisonous bacteria will burst out, killing the microbe outright.
Moreover, it takes a lot to make what water is left available for microbes to grow in the salty environment, and so the food is preserved. This, and the actual poisonous nature of salt to most bacteria and fungi make for a very effective preservative. However, some pathogenic microbes can survive a salty environment, notably Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, which is translated as sausage disease, and can be quite deadly. To counter this other salts are used.
Saltpetre A descriptive title for a couple of salts, the first being Potassium nitrate. The nitrate part of the salt is so crowded that it readily ‘explodes’ on a microscopic scale to give lots of compounds and disrupt any microbes it is near. It specifically works best on Clostridium botulinum spores, stopping them from germinating and consequently keeping the food safe. If air dried sausages are to be made, nitrites are used as well to inhibit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Saltpetre is sold as two products, Prague Powder No 1 has nitrates in it and Prague powder No 2 has nitrates and nitrites. They are dyed pink and should be used with careful attention to the amounts used because the concentration of saltpetre is strictly controlled by law. They are mixed with ordinary salt.
Kosher salt, bay salt, sea salt This is simply Sodium chloride, common salt without any of the additives used to make salt flow in the kitchen.
Curing salt This is a product for general use with the right amount of saltpetre already added and makes the process of general curing really simple and convenient.
Wet cure bacon is made by dissolving salt in water, plus any other flavourings you prefer, and then using this to salt the bacon. It usually takes about 6 days and after this time the bacon is left for a couple of days having been washed and dried in a cool place to allow the salt to equalise in the meat. Dry cure bacon is where the salt is rubbed directly on the meat and left for about 4 - 5 days. The salt draws out the liquid from the meat, and thence permeates the rest. People often think that wet cure is somehow lower in quality to dry cure, but this is not the case if done properly and I would suggest you try a wet cure recipe for your first attempt because dry cure bacon can sometimes be easy to over salt.
When you dry cure meat, the salt draws liquid away from the meat, which in turn dissolves the salt, and you get a thick liquor, which in turn dilutes the effectiveness of the salt. The best way to counter this problem is to do the dry cure in two batches. Most dry cure recipes call for a salt portion of your cure of 5% of the weight of the meat to be rubbed into the joint. If you weigh out your cure, divide into two equal halves, and rub the first amount over the meat. Half way into the curing process, between 2 - 3 days, quickly since the meat and pat dry with a clean towel. Then result with the second half, replacing it to the washed and dried container. When the curing time is finished, wash and dry the bacon and leave it for a couple of days for the salt to equalise in the meat.
The action of salt on your meat is first and foremost to remove water. Therefore, properly cured meat will be harder than raw meat, push it with your finger and you will feel the difference. The very centre of the meat is the most important part of the meat to test because it takes a while to get salt into it. You can inject salt into very thick pieces of meat, use brine, about 10% of the weight of the meat. Also there should be no smell, if anything a slightly sweet smell will show you the meat if fine to cook. There will also be a change in colour of the meat, particularly if the meat has been cured with curing salts.
You can use kitchen salt to cure meat and fish but it has additives that can make the flavour of the final product slightly off in flavour. This is usually due to flowing agents and the iodine in the salt, though it will actually help in the curing process, can impart a strange flavour from time to time, especially if the meat is a little fatty. If you make a wet cure from kitchen salt, your brine will be a little cloudy and in hard water areas this can be more pronounced.
You can use curing salts on salmon and the fish, but the flavour of saltpetre does not suit fish in the same way it does meat. Consequently I prefer to use kosher salt which has no additives of any kind, and imports a saltiness with no extra flavours. It is important that the curing of fish often also involves the use of vinegar or fruit acids such as lemon juice - a very satisfying, easy and cost-effective process.
Absolutely not! It is important you stick to the recommended amount of salt when making your bacon. Sugar does not preserve in the same way, and could encourage spoiling microbes if there is not enough salt in the mix.
Absolutely not! When the bacon is thawed it will be under salted. Moreover, the freezing process breaks some of the cells in the meat, spilling their contents when thawed, encouraging bacterial growth. This is fine if there is enough salt in the meat, but could be dangerous if the meat is not cooked straight away.
You can save over salted meat simply by soaking it in water for a few hours, changing the water. Check by cooking a little and then reseal if you are not happy. However, cook and use the soaked meat as quickly as possible, don’t expect it to be the highest quality and perhaps the best destination is a soup or stew.
Curing and air drying a whole leg of pork is a complex procure which is fraught with possible pitfalls. The chances of success of creating an acceptable and safe product in a domestic situation when you neither have the experience of curing, nor the sure ability of controlling the environment the meat for up to a year are slim. It is much better to create smaller pieces of meat and cure them. Learn what salt does to meat first hand and how curing changes it, how salt equalises in the muscle and most importantly how to recognise when things are going wrong. There are myriad lessons to be learned only by experience, because how the curing process works for you can be subtly but significantly different for you compared to someone else. Getting the blood out of a large piece of meat, curing it in a large volume of salt, under weight, washing, drying and hanging in a room where the temperature, the humidity, the background aromas, the invading insects and checking for what is and isn’t a natural bloom of fungi on the meat is not the realm for the first time curer. Make bacon, ham hocks, small hams for boiling and roasting and dare I say it, freeze some of your precious meat for a Sunday roast. Learn how to make sausages if you haven’t dome it before, and thence air dry sausage using cultured stuffings, and not only will you have great food, you will have learned a lot with a whole load of fun thrown in.
Questions about rusk and breadcrumbs in sausages
We would always advocate adding the rusk dry to the mix . First mince the meat, then add the seasonings and mix in half of the water, continue to mix while gradually adding the rest of the water. Finally , once the mix is ready add the dry rusk or bread crumbs. Any remaining moisture will then be absorbed by the rusk. Doing it this way allows the action of the salt and water to change the structure of the meat and for the meat to retain some of the water. The rusk absorbs the remaining water and you end up with a much more succulent sausage that retains the moisture and doesn't leak the water either in the bag or in the frying pan. One reason why sausages might burst in the pan is that the water has not been mixed properly, hence it turns to steam and bursts the skin as it escapes. Hence the term 'banger'.
Yes. We stock the Organic Bread Crumbs which are made with organic ingredients by Ripon Select Foods in North Yorkshire. We also have their regular Bread Crumbs which many sausage makers prefer. Both products are essentially normal bread that has been dried and ground to a consistent size. The crumb is bigger than the Rusk .
Yes. There are several grades depending on how fine the unleavened bread has been ground. There is Coarse, Medium, Pin-Head, and Super-Fine. The Rusk we sell is that most commonly used for sausage production, that is Pin-Head, which means literally that the crumb is the size of a pins-head ! We stock all the grades of Rusk and these can be obtained by phoning the office.
Yeastless Rusk is simply unleavened bread that has been baked and dried before being ground into a fine crumb. You can also use regular breadcrumbs but using Rusk gives a good and consistent texture to the sausage. It also retains the moisture within the sausage better than breadcrumbs giving you a more succulent sausage. Also, because it is yeastless it gives the sausage a longer shelf-life.
Questions about Collagen Casings
No. They are made from Beef Collagen which is collected from beneath the hide, it is then reconstituted to form a dry concertined collagen 'tube' or casing.
No. Collagen Casings are used dry. Simply place them over the nozzle of your stuffer and gently hold them back while you fill.
Questions about ordering
The selection of products on our website is indicative of the extensive range of products that we stock, however if you do not see exactly what you want please do phone us on 01642 241395. We aim to supply everything in the Butchery apart from the meat!
Out of stock items are clearly marked beside the product on the website. On the rare occasion that an item is out of stock and has not been flagged, we will let you know that the item is to follow or if you would prefer a substitute or refund. There will not be any additional charge made for delivery of an item to follow and the item will be sent as soon as it becomes available.
Yes, you will receive an e-mail confirmation that your order has been processed and is out for despatch that day.
We would ask you to wait a few hours for the confirmation to be delivered before contacting the office during working hours. Additionally, please check you have entered your email address correctly, or check your SPAM folder, as it may have been automatically stopped and moved into your SPAM or junk mail folder instead of being sent to your in-box.
You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your order. Most e-mail receipts will be received within fifteen minutes.