Making Healthy Sausages
If you’ve ever read the ingredients list on a package of sausage, you know there’s often a lot of chemical additives and preservatives included in store-bought sausages. The best way to make sure that what you’re eating is made from wholesome, natural ingredients is to make it yourself. This gives you some other benefits as well. You can customize the spices that you add in to make sausages specially designed for you and your family. For people with food allergies to common ingredients, this can be very important.
Making your own sausages isn’t as hard as many people think it is. You will need to have some specialized equipment though. First of all, find yourself a good meat grinder. If you have a stand mixer, you can start out by getting a meat grinding attachment for that. You’ll use the grinder to convert solid meat into stuffing for sausages. In a pinch, you can also use a food processor with a good, sharp blade.
Most sausage is put into casings, but this isn’t necessary. You can use the mix of meat, fat and spices that would go into the casing as loose sausage. Anywhere you’d use ground beef–lasagna, sloppy joes, etc.–you can substitute loose sausage. If you are interested in stuffing sausage into casing, you can get some from your local butcher.
As you’re preparing to make your own sausage, the most important step is to consider the ingredients that you want to include. If your main health concern is reducing your intake of saturated fat, you’ll probably want to go with a lean meat like chicken. Lean beef can be a good choice for people who are comfortable with a moderate amount of fat. Many people are also concerned about eating meat from livestock that was raised with antibiotics and growth hormones. If you can find it, eating locally raised pasture-fed livestock is likely to be the most nutritious option.
If you are going the low-fat route, you should know that your sausage might taste and feel dry. You can make up for this by adding in other moisture rich ingredients. Fruits are a traditional component of sausages in many countries. Some chopped apples, cherries or raisins can add both moisture and some compelling sweetness to balance out the savory spices. Other possibilities include garlic, cabbage and mushrooms.
Another potential concern for many types of sausage is their high sodium content. Luckily, there’s lot of healthy alternatives to salt that will still add some rich flavors to your sausage. People use all sorts of spices, especially cumin, fennel, cloves and coriander. You can also add vinegar to give your sausage a little kick. If you’re seeking more healthy fats in your diet, consider adding some olive.
Once you’ve assembled the ingredients you want to use, it’s important that you get the meat very cold. You want it to be almost but not quite freezing. The best way to accomplish this is to put the meat in your freezer for two hours. You also want to put the bowls you’ll be using and your grinder (or the blade of your food processor) in the freezer. The reason you want these things to be so cold is to prevent your sausage from smearing.
People who need to lower their cholesterol or who choose to eat vegetarian will be happy to hear that you can make sausages without any meat at all. You can use tofu, lentils or other legumes as a base for your sausage. Many traditional meat sausages included large amounts of fillers, such as oats, rice, potatoes and bread crumbs. You can incorporate these ingredients into your own sausages, to reduce or eliminate the amount of meat they contain.
Many people find sausages to be a special treat or a comfort food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean no sausage if you make you own from healthy, natural ingredients.