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I want to make sausages, likely following a fresh sausage chorizo recipe. I can't dry and cure them in the traditional way since I lack the equipment, so my plan is to make regular fresh sausages using either Spanish or Mexican-style recipes (still undecided, and they'll be fresh/non-cured either way).

I was toying with the idea of putting the fresh sausages in my oven on the dehydration setting, which I think takes many hours. However I've learned that this is a bad idea. Apparently the fat in the sausages wouldn't respond well to dehydration in this way and the product wouldn't resemble the dry cured sausage I would desire.

But what if I put the sausage in the oven on the dehydration setting for maybe 2-3 hours? I would likely use a temperature around 150F, which would cook them thoroughly with enough time. I'm thinking this would have a few advantages:

  1. It would cook the whole batch at once. This means I could freeze them after they've been cooked and simply warm them up in the future to eat them.
    1. It would dry them a bit, which would in my opinion improve the texture and flavour.

What would happen if I dehydrated fresh sausages for a couple hours?

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You would potentially grow bacteria that would make you sick. The production of cured sausage has to follow a specific process that makes use of the correct balance of salt, water activity, and acidity (often, along with the addition of nitrates) to create a safe product. You can certainly make fresh sausage and cook fully, or refrigerate for a few days, or freeze for a much longer time. Alternately, you can make beef jerky, and fully dehydrate thin slices of meat. However, I would not recommend playing with the age-old, tried and true, processes that have been proven effective for properly producing cured sausages.

Given your edits, and your focus on fresh sausage, dehydration has no advantage, and as @rumtscho clarifies, poses a safety risk. Either cook fully right away, or chill below 40F (4.5C) immediately. When I make fresh sausage, I vacuum seal in bags and freeze what I am not using immediately. This preserves the quality for several months.

  • Sorry, I didn't make it clear that most dehydrating functions also cook the food. I did mention that they would be COOKED, but I'll also include more info. So there is no food safety issue here. – Behacad Dec 30 '19 at 23:26
  • I think it would be more helpful if you made clear the type of sausage you are making. In your title you write "fresh". Then in your question you write about "cured". Further, Spanish chorizo is usually a cured product. Mexican chorizo is usually a fresh product. My answer tried to cover all the bases. You might get what you want if you post the actual recipe. – moscafj Dec 31 '19 at 0:57
  • I never said I want to make cured sausage. I specifically said I cannot cure them, so this is an alternative. Nevertheless I will expand. – Behacad Dec 31 '19 at 3:51
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To clarify, after your comments on Moscafj's answer and your comments: To have your sausages safe, it is not enough to have them in an oven set to 150 F. Rather, you have to ensure that their internal temperature goes from room to over 140 quickly enough (less than 2 hours), and this won't happen in an oven set to 150 F. It can happen either in an oven set to a much higher temperature, or with some other tool like sous vide, or in something like a crock pot (but there you need liquid).

Let's assume that you heated your sausages quickly to 150 F internal and afterwards kept them at that temperature for 2-3 hours. What you will end up with will be roasted sausage. You can certainly freeze it and then eat defrosted without the need to recook it, and people do like the taste of roasted sausage, so it will probably be a good thing to do.

If now you say "OK, you said I need to heat them up in less than 2 hours, what if I put them on the dehydration setting for 90 minutes and then froze them without further manipulation". In that case, you will have slightly warmed sausages, not sausages that in any way start to resemble dried or cooked sausages. After defrosting, you will still have to cook them thoroughly, and the result will be the same as if you hadn't warmed them before freezing. Also, you will have given yourself hard time on the safety front, because the danger zone is about the total time in which the internal temperature spends between 40 and 140 F. This means you have "used up" 90 minutes of the time alotted to your sausages for cooling down in the freezer, and you are starting them from a much higher temperature, so there is quite a risk that they won't be able to cool down sufficiently.

Bottom line: If you want to pre-roast the sausages and then freeze, that's fine. But placing them for 2-3 hours in a 150 F oven is not the same thing, and creates nothing but a safety risk.

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    Ok I understand the safety concern, but presumably there is a time to temperature ratio that would cook these reasonably. I cook sausages sous vide at 140 in a couple hours fine. The oven will take longer and maybe higher temperature, so lets say 4 hours at 160. I can monitor them in real time for safety if that makes people more comfortable. Once the sausages hit 130 or so internally then bacteria are already on the decline. But the question remains: will the sausages be dried at all? Will they lose much moisture? Or will they be nearly the same as if I cooked them at 300F for 45 minutes? – Behacad Dec 31 '19 at 19:47
  • No, it won't be dried. It will be basically the same as being roasted for shorter time on higher temperature. – rumtscho Dec 31 '19 at 20:24
  • How can you say this so authoritatively ? It would dry somewhat, it’s just a question of extent. Presumably a fair bit of water of evaporate over say four hours with moving air. – Behacad Jan 1 at 5:17
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    I just know from experience that meat which loses water during roasting doesn't taste like meat that loses water during drying/curing. What you are propposing is roasting, so I'm pretty certain it will taste like roasted meat. You can of course test it for yourself and see if you have a personal preference, either in a blind test or a nonblind one, whichever is more important to you. – rumtscho Jan 1 at 12:24
  • Yes I suspect it would be far more similar to roasted than to dry/cured, no question, but I'm curious to know the % of weight loss in the dehydration process. Maybe I'll try it, maybe not. Thanks for the contribution. – Behacad Jan 1 at 16:55

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