9 steps to make Italian sausage
1. Prepare the casings
Casings come packed in salt so you’ll need to rinse them first. Run some water over and through the casings to remove any residual salt, then place them in a bowl of water while you get everything else set up. It is always a good idea to drape one end of the casing over the side of the bowl or you’ll have a nightmare trying to find each opening.
- Recommended casing size: Hog 35-38 for a BIG sausage or choose 32-35 casings for a supermarket sized sausage.
Tip: Casings can’t be reused once they’ve been opened.
2. Select the right meat
When making Italian sausage it’s essential that you use meat from the shoulder of the pig. This is an area from the back down to the front elbow. The meat is ideal for making sausage as the fat:meat ratio is just what you need.
When buying meat at the butcher, ask for picnic shoulders. These will cost you less than a whole shoulder which contains a special cut of meat used for capicola. You will be grinding meat for sausage so the whole shoulder is an unnecessary expense.
3. Chill everything
Pop your meat and sausage making equipment in the freezer. You want the meat to be firm but not frozen solid. Why is this important? Because the fat needs to stay hard during processing. If it softens you’ll struggle to create an emulsion with the meat and fat. The end result? A sausage that has the fat separated from the meat and nobody wants that.
4. Chop the pork
Slice the pork off the bone ensuring you keep some of the fat. If you come across any nasty looking sinew then remove it.
Cut the meat into pieces that are a suitable size for the opening of your meat grinder. A size of 1-2” is usually a good rule of thumb.
Place the meat in the fridge for 30 minutes once it’s all chopped up.
5. Grind the pork
Select a coarse holed plate for your meat grinder as this is preferable for Italian sausage. Grind the meat into a bowl and place in the fridge while you get your seasonings ready.
If you need a meat grinder you’ll do well to check out this meat grinding resource.
6. Mix in the seasonings
Using your hands, mix the meat with your seasoning and ensure everything is well combined. You can also use a powerful mixer to combine the ingredients if you have one.
At this stage take a sample of the meat and cook it in a skillet until browned. Taste test to make sure the flavour is right. Add seasonings as required.
7. Stuff the sausages
Now you’re going to stuff the sausages into their casings. If you have two people for this job it will make life much smoother. One loads in the meat while the other holds the casings.
Attach a casing to the end of the nozzle and tie off the end. Now start pumping meat into the casing, being careful to not let any air get into the casing. There is a balancing act between having too much air and not enough air.
Too much air = a poorly formed sausage
Too little air = the casing will burst
Stop filling the casing with about 3” to spare at the end. Now you can tie off the end. Repeat this step until all the meat has been stuffed into casings.
We use 35-38mm casings for Italian sausage which allow you to make a large banger. If you prefer a supermarket sized sausage then choose a 32-35 casing.
8. Create links
Measure 8” and squeeze the meat apart then twist the sausage towards you. You have created your first sausage! Now measure another 8” and twist the sausage away from you. It is really important to alternate which way you turn the sausage. This will stop the links unravelling. Prick your sausages if you see any air bubbles.
We usually make 8″ sausages but you can make smaller (or larger) if you prefer.
9. The final step
Now you can decide what you want to do with your freshly made sausages.
- Cook: feeling hungry? Cook your fresh sausages using a few popular recipes further down this page.
- Refrigerate: Pop them in the fridge and eat within 1-2 days.
- Freeze: Use fresh sausages within 1-2 months.
- Dry: If you decide to dry your sausage it will significantly increase the life of your sausages.