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Tips for Sausage Making with Wild Game Meat

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

Sausage made with lean meat, especially wild game like venison, elk, or any other lean red meat, needs to be approached slightly differently. The obvious tip is you need a higher level of fat to keep the sausage moist; I’m going to highlight more on this below, plus other helpful un-mentioned tips.

Over the many years of studying and making sausages out of wild-harvested meat, I have gained ideas I want to share to help your sausage making.

Key Tips for Wild Game Sausage Making

  • 25% Fat for Lean Wild Game Meat Ratio
  • Remove Sinew From Meat
  • Importance of the Sausage Bind
  • Cool Meat As Possible, Once Harvested
  • Grind Meat Near-Frozen Temperature
  • Freeze the Metal Grinder Auger
  • Test Fry Before Stuffing

Key Tips in Detail

Here are some tips you won’t find discussed in many recipes because people haven’t built up knowledge through experience.

I’ve had enough mistakes and unwanted outcomes, luckily now all this is second nature when I’m making sausages or salami (books on sausage making)..

25% Fat or More

pork fat for sausages, Bavarian style, so a 40-50% fat to total meat ratio.
Nurenburg sausage, classic – Same amount of Majarom as Salt

Out of the total amount of meat, I like to use 25% fat.

An an example:

1 pound of meat total, 4 oz of fat

1000 grams of meat total, 250 grams of fat.

20% would really be a bare minimum. To be safe, 25% should be used to ensure a moist sausage. You have to also assess the lean meat. Sometimes, the lean meat of a deer shoulder might also contain some intramuscular fat.

30% is OK, but once you start getting to 35-40%, I’ve noticed that when the sausages are being grilled, you will see that fat dripping and rendering off during the cooking process.

A lot of central European and Eastern European grilling sausages have higher levels of fat (detail on pork fat I wrote about), From living and traveling across these parts of the world trying various sausages. This is not the case for emulsified sausage, however, which needs less fat than grilling sausages (article on cooked sausages of the world) – so the fat doesn’t split the emulsion.

Remove Sinew

Wild game (here is a link to the wild game article category list on this site) red meat sinew is often tougher and stronger than farmed animals, in my experience.

It takes more time, of course, but it is worth it, as you will get a better outcome. Secondly, when you’re using a grinder or mincer (features of a decent grinder I wrote about), sinew gets stuck in the auger and grinding plate.

If you take the time to trim out the tendons/sinew, this can make the grinding a lot easier. More powerful grinders, views that are around one horsepower (hp) or more for home sausage making, can often cut through the sinew a lot more easily, I’ve learned.

Importance of the Sausage Bind

Wild cattle beast and venison sausages

Not discussed much in many recipes I’ve seen is how important it is to work the sausage mixture until you need to extract myosin and to create an adequate bind.

Salt helps exacting the myosin, as well as the kneading/mixing.

You want the meat to bind with the fat and the leaner meat inside the sausage. Some choose to use artificial or natural binding agents, including breadcrumbs as fillers.

A sausage meat bind can be created naturally, as long as the meat mixture is worked enough; this tip is crucial because if you do not create a bind, your sausage will be crumbly and won’t be formed into one slice of firm sausage when cut.

My advice in creating an adequate sausage bind if you have not had much experience.

When you think you’ve mixed the sausage with the salt and spices enough, mix it some more for five or ten minutes.

It should have a tacky stickiness. You can also place a small patty on the palm of your hand. This is an old trick I discovered from Italians. Turn your hand palm facing down, and the patty stays on your hand for at least 30 seconds.

An example of a tacky sausage bind.
A trick is to pull apart some of the sausage mixture if it is strains and is tacky – these are the signs you want for an adequate sausage bind.

Then, you generally have a good level of bind and tackiness.

Cool Meat As Soon as Possible

I have found that bacteria and meat spoiling can happen quite fast in the wild. Many hunters I’ve been with use plastic bags to store meat, which is not ideal in warmer months.

This can insulate the meat in warm climates, which is the opposite of what you want.

Mesh bags and cooling the meat using meat safes are also ideal If they are available nearby. Another tip would be to break down the meat into smaller sub-prime muscle groups to speed up the cooling process.

Grind Meat at Near-Frozen Temperature

Grinders/mincers work more effectively with firm meat; having meat in the freezer chilled, before you start grinding is helpful. You do not use frozen meat; it does have to start to freeze but be thawed (ideally).

Not solid and frozen.

This is not so relevant for a manual grinder, but for an electric grinder, due to the consistent moving parts, heat is generated, which transfers through to the meat. Therefore, cooling/chilling the meat prior to grinding should be done.

Freeze the Metal Grinder Auger

Most decent meat grinders, whether it’s an electrical manual, can have detaching auger metal components that can be frozen prior to commencing the grinding.

What I like to do with this is place the auger and the grinding plate that you are using in the freezer, ready to grind. Since it will be frozen, it will be easier to do this prior to putting it in the freezer.

You should be able to pull it out of the freezer, put it straight onto the grinder, and start grinding.

Test Fry Before Stuffing

One of the more apparent tips but very important is before stuffing any wild game sausage (want some easy sausage ideas? I wrote about some here).

When you make a small test, Patty, to fry up, ensure the seasoning and juiciness, based on how fat, are what you desire.

You can’t change much once it’s stuffed into a sausage casing!

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