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I want to make big batches of Boerewors (A traditional South African fresh sausage) and was wondering if I could immerse it in fat or lard and then preserve it this way?

Can fat be used to seal the meat and keep it from spoiling or is this a bad idea? Does it still need to be refrigerated? The idea is to not have to freeze and then wait for it to thaw. Sometimes I just need a quick pick-me-up and a little sausage with some bread looks like it should do the trick.

  • Fat will go rancid eventually even with refrigeration. It will go bad much more quickly if not refrigerated. – Mr. Mascaro Jan 7 '15 at 17:19
  • what if I add salt to the fat? – Neil Meyer Jan 7 '15 at 17:22
  • The fat would need to be completely cured. – Mr. Mascaro Jan 7 '15 at 17:38
  • Is there any reason why you could not freeze and keep the sausage in smaller portions that can be individually thawed? – logophobe Jan 7 '15 at 18:01
  • No reason other than being impatient and not having a lot of time. Most days days after work I just want to eat as fast as possible. – Neil Meyer Jan 8 '15 at 12:41
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Refrigerate them.

When it comes down to meat, you should play it safe. Spoiled meat can develop salmonella and other forms of bacteria. Read more about it on the CDC website.

That said...

I believe the method of preserving you are referring to is confit:

In chilly European kitchens before refrigeration, it was common to salt meat, usually duck, goose or pork, and then to cook it slowly in the animal's own fat. The rendered fat was then poured over the meat in a crock, completely covering it and sealing it off from the air. In an oxygen-free environment, the meat would keep a long time without spoiling.

While confit is a real thing, people from back when it was popular had lower standards for food safety, and access to safer meat. There are probably current recipes for safe confit, but a homebrew experiment of "just cover with fat" cannot be considered safe if canned - it should be handled like any other unpreserved dish.


I'm not sure that there is a way to do that with sausages. I would suggest to make smaller batches more often instead, and keep them refrigerated or frozen. If you package them in small portions, say 1 or 2 sausages, it won't take very long to thaw them in the microwave.

  • For confit, the meat ist cooked gently for a long time in the fat, then "sealed" with more fat. Boerewors are basically South African "Bratwurst", and therefore raw(-ish) when made. I don't think the method for confit would make sense here, as either they wouldn't keep (if just covered wit fat) or the cooking process would alter them singnificantly. Great answer, though. – Stephie Jan 7 '15 at 18:41
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    While confit is a real thing, people from back when it was popular had lower standards for food safety, and access to safer meat. There are probably current recipes for safe confit, but a homebrew experiment of "just cover with fat" cannot be considered safe if canned - it should be handled like any other unpreserved dish. – rumtscho Jan 7 '15 at 19:13
  • @rumtscho Good point; can I copy part of your comment into my answer? (with proper credit of course) – Phrancis Jan 7 '15 at 19:14
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    @rumtscho : confit + refrigeration still works, as you're effectively pasteurizing the meat and then the fat seals it in. The problem comes these days in that we have some issues like botulism that require cooking at suffient temperature or pressure to kill. As oil can get hotter than water, we can reach the 250°F for 3 minutes necessary to destroy botulism, but once we get above the boiling point of water, we start moving towards frying. I have no idea if anyone's ever tried pressure-confiting as a replacement for pressure canning. – Joe Jan 7 '15 at 21:08
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    Key point "chilly European kitchens". Most of these old time preserving methods where for over the winter. My family used to keep food preserved in large earthenware tubs on the shaded side of the house over late autumn, winter, and early spring. Probably below 5°C most days! – TFD Jan 7 '15 at 21:08

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