Equipment and Supplies

The suppliers listed were selling these items at the date of writing. The items they stock may change over time, so it’s always worth checking to see if they’ve extended the range of goods offered.

A certain amount of equipment is needed to make sausage and to cure safely. I’ve listed a few suppliers here. Listing by me does not mean that I recommend any particular product or business listed.

Sausage Making

Mincers
These can be either hand or electric mincers. Many people already own a food-mixer with a mincing attachment, such as a Kenwood Chef or Kitchen Aid, these are fine for small scale sausage making.

Stand-alone mincers/grinders are available from a number of suppliers. At the budget end of the market, there are many available from the major electrical goods suppliers and from online sources. For quality machines, Weschenfender’s sells a variety of sizes.

Stuffers
You can stuff sausage skins (casings) by hand with a funnel, but It’s hard work. It’s better to use either an adapter for your mincer or a special sausage stuffer.

Attachments for standard-sized mincers are available and are often included when buying. If not they are available, either from ebay, or from Kitchenaid and Kenwood for their machines. They come complete with the mincer for newer models. Personally, I find it hard to use the sausage stuffers on mincers, on the other hand, I know people who use nothing else, so the choice is yours – this is certainly the cheaper option.

I use a dedicated sausage stuffer, these are available from suppliers such as  Weschenfender’s and Butcher’s Sundries.

Scales
Accurate scales are useful for measuring small quantities of spices/herbs. I would recommend that you buy some as they allow you to repeat recipes easily. Scales, accurate to a tenth of a gram, or even one hundredth, are available quite cheaply online. There’s usually some on ebay or a quick ‘Google’ for ‘pocket digital scales’, will show many other suppliers.

Sausage Skins (Casings)
These are usually sold by the hank (about 100 yards), or half-hank, and are preserved in salt. They can be bought ‘pre-spooled’ – that is to say they come on rods ready for soaking and threading onto your sausage stuffer rather than in a big bundle. Casings can be natural or artificial. Natural hogs’ (pigs’) and sheeps’ casings are used for fresh sausages and need soaking in water before use. Ask the supplier for details of the preparation required for their casings. Artificial casings generally don’t need soaking.

Weschenfelder’s are specialists in the preparation of casings producing thousands of miles of casings each year. Other online suppliers include Butchers Sundries and sausage- casings.co.uk. Larger quantities are available from Scobies and Weschenfelder’s.

Sausage mixes, rusks and sundry items
A large range of ready made sausage mixes, rusk, emulsifiers and preservatives are available from Weschenfelder’s, and for larger amounts, Scobies.

Specialist Ingredients in smaller quantities for the home sausage maker
It’s hard to find some ingredients in the UK that are used in certain types of sausage, in quantities suitable for the home sausage maker. These include:

  • Dried Blood – Used in Black Pudding. Weschenfelder’s  sell dried pigs’ blood and also black pudding making kits.
  • Tapioca flour/starch – Used in Low Fat Sausage. Stocked by most Chinese supermarkets or online from Wing Yip and others.
  • Dextrose – Used to give good browning to a sausage skin. Dextrose is the food industry name for what is sold in many chemists shops as powdered glucose.
  • Large Natural Casings – Used for salami, luncheon meats, black pudding etc. See entry for sausage skins/casing above.
  • Large Artificial Casings – Used for salami and luncheon meats. Weschenfelders stock a small range. Scobies sell some of their commercial range in ‘smaller’ size packages. However, these are still larger than the average home producer requires.
  • Artificial casings for black puddings – Sold online by ebay shop TruNet Packaging as well as Weschenfelder and Scobies
  • Soya Protien Isolate – Used to bind fat in cooked sausage and luncheon meat, or as an ‘extender’ in fresh sausage. Smaller amounts can be bought from Holland and Barrett. But make sure that you don’t buy the chocolate or strawberry one! For larger quantities it’s back to Scobies.

Cured Meat and Air Dried Sausage

Curing Salts

  • Cure #1, also known as Prague Powder – This cure contains Sodium Nitrite mixed with salt. Unlike Saltpetre which takes time to start working, Cure #1 acts very quickly to protect the meat. Sodium nitrite is often coloured pink so that it is not mistaken for anything else. This cure contains 6.25% nitrite. The British and EU rules on curing levels restrict the amounts of nitrites to 150 parts per million in most products. The USA rules include details of how the levels of nitrites can be calculated.
  • Cure #2, also known as Prague Powder II – This is a cure containing both Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate it is used in long term curing of air dried products.
  • Saltpetre – Saltpetre is Potassium Nitrate and is used in traditional curing. Only minute amounts of it are used.

Cures #1 and #2 are sold by Weschenfelder.

All in one cures

There are a large number of ready-made cures available for specific types of products and also for general curing. These are available from Weschenfelder’s. Larger amounts of these cures can be purchased from Scobies.

Sodium ascorbate
This is a vitamin C salt that is used in small quantities as a cure accelerator. It also adds to the safety of cured meats that will be fried at high temperatures. It can also often be bought on ebay.

Lactic Bacteria Culture
This is used to make air-dried sausage safe. ColdSmoking are now selling Hansen’s sausage cultures and Weschenfelder’s stock a few. They require storage in a freezer.

Mould Culture
Used to make promote the development of good moulds on salami. The culture, Penicillium Nalgiovense, is only available in the UK in industrial quantities the same suppliers as Cultures. Many home curers in the UK cultivate their own from a commercial salami.

Curing and Smoking Equipment

Meat Injector
Specialist meat injectors are available from Weschenfender’s. In view of the the cost of these, many home curers use a Marinade Injector instead, They can be bought from ProQ. However, the best one I’ve used so far is the Masterclass Flavour Injector which is available from the Amazon Website.

Temperature Control
Digital Thermostats can be used to adapt a fridge into an air drying chamber. They are available from a number of suppliers on ebay.

Humidity Control
Digital Hygrostats are also available from a number of suppliers on ebay..

Smokers
There are a number of suppliers of smokers in the UK, two of the most popular are:

  • Bradley – One of the most popular small smokers, the Bradley is available from numerous UK suppliers including Weschenfelder’s. The Bradley can be used to both hot and (with adaption) cold smoke. The only downside are the running costs which are high in comparison with some other systems.
  • ProQ CSG – An ingenious Cold Smoke Generator that takes all of the hassle out of cold smoking. One of my favourite pieces of equipment. To buy, or for details of the product, and stockists, see ProQ website.

Smoking Woods – Buying bulk supplies of smoking woods can save a lot of money. Ashwood Smoking Chips in Kettering sell a good range. However, check that the wood you buy is suitable for use in the ProQ CSG.

Dry Cured Bacon – Tutorial

This is an adaption of the tutorial that I wrote on ‘beginners’ bacon curing for the sausagemaking.org forum.

Let’s Make Bacon!

Cure suppliers

Details of cures and suppliers can be found on this page.

Cleaning/Hygiene

Pay attention to hygiene; keep everything clean and safe. Ensure work surfaces and cutting boards are clean. You may wish to use plastic gloves when handling curing salts.

Choice, Size and Source of Meat

Your meat can be from the supermarket, local butcher, or direct from the farm-shop or farm. You can cure as much or as little as you want. Remember though, the better the meat: the better the bacon. For this reason, many people choose rare-breed or free-range meat. However, for your first project, a joint from the supermarket is fine. If something goes wrong it won’t have cost you the earth!

You’ll need:

For Streaky Bacon – a boned joint of belly pork
For Back Bacon – a boned joint of loin of pork

In the supermarket, both of these are likely to be rolled and tied with string. Remove any string and unroll the meat. It should be noted that the rashers from these joints are smaller than those of commercial bacon as smaller pigs are used.

The Dry Cure

For this guide, we will pretend we are dry curing a piece of meat weighing 1930gm (1.93kg/4.24lb).

For each 1kg of meat we need:

22gm Salt
8gm Sugar
2.4gm Cure #1
0.4gm Sodium ascorbate (optional)

The sugar can be one of your choosing white, brown, Demerara or even honey or maple syrup. The darker the sugar: the stronger the flavour. A mixture of white and Demerara, or light brown sugar, makes tasty mild bacon.

Weigh your piece of meat and calculate the amount of cure you need…

If you have accurate scales:

For our 1930gm (1.93kg) example, that’s:
Salt 22gm x 1.93kg = 42.5gm
Sugar 8gm x 1.93kg = 15.4gm
Cure #1 – 2.4gm x 1.93kg = 4.6gm
Sodium ascorbate 0.4gm x 1.93kg = 0.77gm

You can add any herbs and spices you fancy. A sprinkle of black pepper and thyme keeps things simple.

If you don’t have accurate scales:

Make up a batch of cure:
Salt 220gm
Sugar 80gm
Cure #1 – 24gm
Sodium ascorbate 4gm (optional)

Now, ensuring it’s well mixed (you could grind it in a clean coffee grinder, if you have one, to make sure) use 33gm per kg meat. So in this case that would be 33gm x 1.93kg = 63.69gm (64gm to make it easier to weigh).

You can add any herbs and spices you fancy. A sprinkle of black pepper and thyme keeps things simple.

For easy calculation for all weights of meat use one of my online calculators:

For My Favourite Bacon – the moderately salted bacon that’s featured above.
Or, alternatively, this very Mild Bacon
Or, make up your own cure – this calculator will help you to do it safely: Bacon Cure Calculator

These and others can also be accessed via my Cured Meat Calculators page

Applying the Cure Mix to the Meat

The amount of cure mix may seem a lot less than you expected. Don’t add more, that’s how it’s meant to be.

Sprinkle about 80% – 90% of the cure mix onto the flesh side of the meat and rub well in, getting into all the folds and crevices. Don’t forget the ends. The remainder is sprinkled onto the skin/fat side and rubbed in well.

Now put the meat, along with any cure that fell off whilst you were rubbing it in, into a food grade bag, or wrap it well in cling film. In fact it’s easier to put the meat into the bag and then rub the cure into it! Put it into the fridge; on a tray’s best, just in case it leaks. Every day or two turn it over and give it a bit of a rub; you can do this ‘through’ the bag without opening it. Don’t worry if liquid comes out of the meat. It often, but not always, does. Just leave it all in the bag.

How Long Do I Leave It For?

The standard advice is to cure the meat for 1 day for each ½ inch (13mm) of thickness, plus two days. So for a piece of supermarket belly like ours, about 1½ (39mm) inches deep, that’s going to be 3 days + 2 days = 5 days total.
Don’t lose sleep about the curing times. Unlike older curing methods, this type of cure is not time-critical, it won’t be too salty if you leave it longer than the calculated time so it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If in doubt leave it a little longer.
You may notice, because you’re bound to take a peek, that it doesn’t appear to have changed colour. That’s normal. The outside colour is deceiving. If you’ve followed the instructions it’ll be lovely red bacon when you cut into it.

Wash and Dry

At the end of the curing time, rinse the bacon in cold water, then dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel. It then needs to dry out a bit before use. It’s best hung in the fridge, but this can sometimes be difficult. If you can’t hang it, put it where the air can get around it; maybe on the fridge shelf with something underneath to catch any drips. Leave it for at least a couple of days to dry; I tend to leave it longer as I prefer it well dried. When your impatience gets the better of you, slice it, cook it, and enjoy!

Storing Your Bacon

This is not ‘old-style traditional bacon’ that can be hung in the rafters all winter. Keep it in the fridge for up to a few weeks, or for longer storage freeze it whole, or in slices, for 1 to 2 months. If you Vac-Pac it, you can keep it longer but it must be kept under 5°C or frozen.

My Favourite Bacon

I recently posted a bacon tutorial that I wrote originally for a sausage making forum. The recipe used was an amalgamation of a few already posted by myself and others and as such, was a compromise. Whilst it makes very nice bacon, it is a little sweet for me. The recipe I use most regularly differs in that it’s saltier and has less sugar. The method and other instructions are exactly the same as in the bacon and dry curing tutorial.

Continue reading My Favourite Bacon

Food, Curing and Sausage