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I am new to this and am attempting to dry some pork sausages. I was told to add a quarter pound of salt for every ten pounds of pork meat, which I did (I used ordinary table salt). I have the sausages hanging in my storage cellar which now stands at 9° C and 48% humidity.

What temperature and humidity do I actually need? Is there a "magic number" to get the best results? And how can I add more humidity if needed?

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Do you need this drying process if you are making at home sussage and keep in the freezer ? What would happen if you make the sussage and place in the freezer as you make it ? Thank you for the explanation . Ed –  user21593 Nov 29 '13 at 15:39
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5 Answers 5

I'm assuming you're wanting to make classic dried sausage such as the salamis and saucisson of Italy and France.

Common salt is certainly the key to the drying process and a quarter pound per 10 pounds of meat is a pretty commonly used ratio, but you must also use a curing salt which helps protect against some of the truly nasty food poisoning bugs such as Clostridium botulinum. This just loves the warm, oxygen-free centre of a curing sausage and produces the botulinum toxin which kills around 5% of people who contract the illness.

Sodium nitrite (often called pink salt) or sodium nitrate (Insta Cure #2 - which converts to nitrite over time in the sausage and the nitrite then does the actual curing) are two commonly available salts.

One-half ounce per 10 pounds of meat in addition to the regular salt is a commonly-used ratio. Don't use more and be sure to keep it away from kids and your regular salt - in quantity it is very dangerous.

Something else I always use in dried sausage (but not hams or bacon) is a live starter culture such as LS-25 or one of the various stains sold as Bactoferm. Added to your mix at two ounces per 10 pounds of meat with say three ounces of dextrose sugar and they will feed on the sugar and excrete lactic acid (just like the bacteria that you add to milk to make yogurt). This lowers the pH of the sausage which makes it even harder for dangerous bacteria to grow. It also produces that delicious acid tang to fermented sausage. If you use this, you hang the sausage in a really moist warm place for the first 24 hours to give the bacteria you added a head start (I have a tall old box with a lightbulb in the bottom).

As far as temperature and humidity goes, 60F and 70 percent humidity are ideal. Humidity below 60 percent can dry out the casing and meat surface too fast which can then harden and prevent the centre from drying (which will then just rot). You could try hanging the sausage above a bowl of water to increase the general humidity in the room.

Your sausage is ready when it has lost at least 30 percent of its original weight. Dry white mould on the casing is good, fuzzy black and green is bad. If you see a little you can rub it off with a cloth dipped in strong brine. Any sign that it is more than just on the surface and you'll have to bin the sausage and start again.

So to recap. Chill your 10 pounds of meat and mince it to your taste. (at least 20% fat gives good texture and flavour). Dissolve the LS25 in a little water and then add it, a quarter pound of salt, a half ounce of Insta Cure #2, up to a couple of ounces of spice of your choice (ground chilli and paprika for chorizo or fennel for something more Italian) a half ounce of finally chopped garlic, a glass of red wine and mix it really well. Then stuff into soaked casings, pricking out any air bubbles with a pin. Hang in a warm place for a day to get the good bacteria you added going, and then hang them in a cool, dampish place until the sausages have lost at least 30% of their weight.

I hope I haven't put you off - it's really as simple as baking a cake and homemade dried sausage is a tremendous thing of joy and beauty - but you really must get the ratios of salt and curing salt right.

If you want to be safe and make fabulous cured sausage I can absolutely recommend Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli and Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn which are both available in the US and Europe from Amazon.

But please don't eat your current batch. Throwing it away won't hurt like paralysis that starts with the face and slowly descends to the rest of the body, bringing death by respiratory failure...

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I could answer this with the usual "it depends on the sausages" kind of answer, but I think it's important to raise a red flag.

I would advise against trying to make dry sausages with a "seat of the pants" recipe and process. The chances of bacterial infection (botulism, most likely) and/or rot are very high if you don't do things right.

I would be extremely wary of home-made dried sausages that were not made with some kind of nitrite salt added (perhaps there's a safe/sterile commercial environment for this, but for home I'd say no). The standard one is "pink salt" which is sodium nitrite, and it's included as an anti-bacterial agent, making the drying/curing process a LOT safer.

I recommend getting a good book on home sausage making or charcuterie before you embark on this endeavor. My current favorite is Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman, but there are tons of good books on Amazon, and maybe in your local library.

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Sodium nitr ate is necessary for dry-cured sausages. It's essentially time-release sodium nitrite -- it converts into nitrite as the sausage ages. –  Josh Caswell Aug 20 '11 at 5:32
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Always use nitrates! I would suggest reading Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing Michael Ruhlman.

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I agree with 60 - 70 % humidity. I've been curing / drying sausauges now for abut 10 years in my cold storage room under th front porch. I use 15grams of curing salt per 1kg of ground pork (I do not use other salts)along with spices like black pepper, cayenne, paprika & fennel seeds. To regulate the humidity I will slightly open the small window in there (1-2mm gap) for less humidity, to increase I will shut completely & add a bowl of water if necessary. Joe

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You can buy these de-hydrator machines, or put it in the oven at 50 degrees Celsius for 8/12 hours.

Good luck

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This is absolutely not how one dries sausages. It's a long, slow process--if you go too fast you render the fat, or dry the outside while the inside is still moist, resulting in rot because the dry outside prevents the inside from drying properly. –  bikeboy389 Jan 26 '11 at 15:26
    
thanks for the feed back...i will do more home work next time. i bought a humidifier and its set at 55%. just wondering what humidity and temperature is supposed to be at...they seem to be drying ok.. –  user4517 Jan 27 '11 at 2:53
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