Making sausages

The below are general instructions that should apply to all sausage making in general and certainly to those recipes listed on this site, unless otherwise stated in the recipes themselves.

Clean and prepare equipment and ingredients

Soak casings

Depending on what type of casing you are using, you might need to soak them well ahead of time (see casings). Do this by leaving them in a bowl immersed with warm water (between 15c and 30c) for the amount of time stated in the above article. When you are nearly ready to use them, i recommend running cold water from the tap through the casings so that any salt or residue is washed out from the inside. This also helps ensure you don’t have any knots!

Clean up

Its super important to make sure your preparation area and all your equipment is clean, prior to making sausages. Bacteria thrive at room temperature, and grinding meat means that more surface area is exposed, presenting more of an opportunity for contamination. Make sure all equipment is washed and dried, your surfaces are clean and your hands are washed throughly. An apron is also recommended to stop your clothes coming into contact with your ingredients - also a risk of contamination!

Chill equipment

Put as many of the components from the grinder and stuffer in the fridge as you can. This helps ensure that the fat doesn’t separate and smear, leading to a crumbly texture. Take a look at the guide on sausage science, which explains this in greater detail.

Chop and chill meat and fat

Dice the fat into 1 inch cubes and put it in the freezer until its frozen solid.

Dice the meat into 1 inch cubes and spread out onto a tray and place in the freezer for around 30 minutes or until crisp round the edges but not frozen through.

Prepare your herbs and spices, toasting spices really brings out the flavour.

Grind and mix

Run the fat and the meat through a coarse plate on your grinder (I use 6mm to start with)

Mix in the salt, herbs and spices previously prepared and as per the recipe

Place back in the fridge for 30 mins. This lets the salt go to work on extracting some of the binding agent from the meat, helping your sausage stay together.

Re-grind and then mix

Grind the mix again, ensuring that it’s kept cold at all times.

Now you need to bring it together to develop the bind. I prefer to do this by hand rather than mixer. Mix the grind together thoroughly until it develops a sticky texture. This will take a couple of minutes. If your hands go numb and hurt whilst doing this, you’ve got them temperature right!

Stuff and link

Now it’s time to stuff your sausage! Start by putting together your stuffer. Then lubricate the nozzle of your stuffer with a bit of water and feed the skins onto the nozzle slowly. Smaller skins like lamb casings are more prone to punctures so handle delicately. Once you have the desired length of casing on the nozzle, leave around 3 inches hanging free. This will give you enough to tie off your first sausage.

Fill the stuffer with your mixture and very slowly push the mixture out of the nozzle until the air has escaped and you can see the mixture starting to fill the casing that has yet to be tied off.

Now place your hand over the nozzle to ensure that you can control the speed at which the casing comes off the nozzle (and therefore how well filled the sausage is). Slowly increase the pressure on the stuffers handle so that the mixture is filling the casing at an even rate and with as few air pockets as possible. Practice and patience will teach you what over-stuffing and under-stuffing look like - the tendency will be to overstuff to start with, but this may well lead to split sausages when you come to cook them!

When making links, you stuff sausage about 3/4 full. You’ll know the sausage has been overstuffed if you press gently with your thumb and there is no indentation left, there should be some give and indent left once pressed.

Some people twist off links as they go, but i prefer to stuff the entire length and then twist afterwards, as think i get a more consistent stuff doing it all at once.

Once i have stuffed the entire length, at the desired intervals, pinch at both ends of the sausage and then twist, first sausage to the left, second to the right etc.

Once you have twisted off the entire length, tie off each end using the casing itself or a length of kitchen twine.

Now store your sausages in the fridge for a few hours. This helps dry the surface and develop the flavours.

Our guide explains how best to cook sausages: how-to-cook-sausages