Sausage and Spices Seasonings
Making sausage at home, while a lot of work, can be extremely rewarding. For starters, you no longer have "mystery" ground meat sausages. When you make your own sausage, you know exactly what goes into it from the types of meat to the spices and seasonings! The meat choice is entirely up to you and picking out a seasoning blend or herbs and spices with which to make your own blend can be either a process or a no brainer, depending on how much work you want to put into the seasonings yourself. Patience is key here, as you will want to experiment with flavors to see what works best with the type of meat you are using in your homemade sausage!
How Do You Make Sausage?
Before we can even get into discussing herbs, spices, and seasonings, we need to talk a little but about the types of "making" you do to sausage to get the desired results.
- Semi-Dry – This is a process that involves smoking the sausage. There is a moderate amount of water loss and results in a sausage with a pH that ranges from 4.6 to 5.2. These sausages are more popular in the United States. A Summer Sausage is considered a semi-dry sausage.
- Dry Cured – This is a process where a curing salt comes into play. A high level of water loss occurs, and the sausage will finish the curing process with a pH between 5 and 5.3. These sausages are far more common in European countries.
No matter which method you prefer, you should be certain that you are using the right type of curing salt for the curing process. There are two main curing salts, Prague Powder #1 and Prague Powder #2. #1 is good for short cures and meats that will be cooked and then eaten. Likely this is the curing salt you will want to use for your sausage. For meats that need a longer curing process and those that can later be eaten without being cooked first, you will want to use Prague Powder #2. This is unusual in sausage making, especially homemade sausage, but check your recipe and conduct further research as needed. It is very important to use the correct curing salt to avoid contracting botulism, a disease that comes from the bacteria which thrive in unoxygenated environments, including the surface of meat.
Once you've established what kind of sausage you want to make, you know what curing salt you need, and you've picked out your meat, you can go ahead and pick out some herbs and spices to use! It is important to choose spices and seasonings that will give some balance to the flavors of the meat. You will want to complement the natural flavors of the meats and in some cases, you will want to help highlight the more muted flavors, like including cinnamon or anise to bring out the inherent sweetness of pork.
Whole Herbs and Spices
When making sausage, you are much more likely to use ground herbs and spices than whole, but you may find yourself gravitating toward whole spices for the aesthetic or simply the ease of use. Some of the most popular whole herbs and spices used in sausage making are:
- Black Tellicherry Peppercorns
- Fennel Seed
- Yellow Mustard Seed
- Allspice Berries
- Dill Seed
- Celery Seed
Whole spices will give you a mouthful of one specific flavor when you bite into them. This can be an unpleasant or unexpected sensation for some, so it's best to be aware of the flavors your family or friends like before you present them with a sausage chock full of whole peppercorns, only to learn they hate biting into whole peppercorns more than anything on earth. This may sound dramatic, but there are certainly people who feel this way.
Ground Herbs and Spices
Ground spices are fine, making them much easier to blend into the meat mixture. They are also less noticeably visible in the meat, and they provide much more flavor to a broader expanse of the meat than whole spices would. Some traditional ground herbs and spices used in sausage making include:
These aren't the only ground herbs and spices you can use in your sausage. Trying out new flavors in your sausage is a great way for you to experiment with this style of home cooking. Working with unusual spices will help to expand your own personal palette as well.
What Seasoning Blends Can I Use in Homemade Sausage?
It depends on what kind of sausage you are making! Premade blends can be helpful if you are new to making sausage and aren't sure yet how to blend your own herbs and spices to achieve that precise flavor you're hoping for. While you practice making your own blends, you can give some of our tried and true sausage seasonings a whirl! Some of our favorite blends are:
- Hot Italian Sausage Seasoning
- Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning
- Andouille Sausage Seasoning
- Breakfast Sausage Seasoning
- Mexican Chorizo Seasoning
Of course, our sausage blends were crafted with sausage in mind, but you can use other blends that aren't sausage specific for equally delicious results!
Should I Use Fresh or Granulated Garlic in My Homemade Sausage?
Garlic has three of our favorite things about food. The taste, the smell, and the texture are a trifecta of perfection. Unfortunately, it spoils pretty quickly when it's fresh and freshly chopped. Granulated Garlic on the other hand lacks only texture, since it's been ground down from a dry clove. It's still got that incredible flavor and aroma, and it doesn't spoil nearly as quickly as fresh garlic would! If you are making a huge batch of sausage that you want to freeze and save for later, granulated garlic would be your best bet. However, if you are just making a small batch of breakfast sausage for the week or some sausage links to fry up or throw on the grill for a dinner party this weekend, you will probably be alright with using fresh garlic. Really, it's all about preference and preparedness. Either way, garlic is a great flavor for your homemade sausage.
Should I Use Fresh or Dried Minced Onion in My Homemade Sausage?
This is basically the same question and answer as the garlic question above. Fresh onions will spoil much faster than Dried Minced Onion, so they should be used in batches of sausage that will be used up more quickly. Try the dried minced onion or onion powder in your sausage for that onion flavor with a smaller risk of spoilage.
What Kind of Salt Should I Use to Make Sausage?
For starters, that iodized salt you have sitting in your cabinet is not good for sausage making, so just stop right there if you're planning on reaching for that salt. You want something more interesting, and luckily salt has a lot more variety than just your run of the mill table salt. When making sausage you will want to reach for a high-quality salt, likely a sea salt or a flaked salt. Salt doesn't just add flavor to the sausage, it will also help bind and preserve the meat. To test if the salt you want to use is high quality, drop some in a glass of clear water. A teaspoon of salt should do just fine for a regular glass of water. If after the salt has dissolved, your water is still clear, you're golden. If your water turns cloudy, you'll want a different salt. Cloudy water is indicative of a metal heavy salt that will mess with your sausage's pH level, so you want to be sure to test your salt before adding it to your recipe and messing up your sausage. Keep in mind that different types of salt, for example flake salt and purified salt, have different weights and therefore may need to be adjusted for your recipe. Be careful not to alter the salt in your recipe too much, as it may change the level of preservation.
Sausage making has been part of American culture since colonial times and if they could do it then, you can do it now! With these herbs, spices, and seasonings listed above, we hope we have given you some idea of what you can use to make your sausage seasoning the best is can be.