The Meat Smoking Process for Sausage

Step 2

Your sausage is dry, so now it's time to start the meat smoking process.

If you have dried your sausage in the smoker, all you need to do next is increase the temperature and add the smoking wood.

If you air dried your links, now is when to hang the full meat smoking sticks (or place the full racks) in the meat smoker.

Temperature is VERY Important

I can't over-emphasize the importance of temperature control in the smoking phase of sausage making. If you get this part right, everything else falls into place easily.

  • Keep the temperature inside the sausage smoker between 160 and 165 degrees F.Max.
  • If you try to smoke at any higher temperatures, the fat content in your sausage will start to melt and ooze out of the casing.

    Fat is important. Not only does it add to the flavor of your sausage, it acts as a binding agent. Once it starts to melt, your sausage will become dry, crumbly, and much less tasty.

  • Take your sausage out of the smoker when it reaches an internal temperature of 152 degrees F.
  • This could take many hours, depending on how full your smoker is. Don't Guess. Use a meat thermometer (I like an instant read digital with an alarm) to monitor this part of the meat smoking process.

Adding the Smoke

  • Fill the chip pan of your smoker with wood chips or sawdust that has been soaked in water for 30 minutes and then drained. Increase the heat to 160 degrees and close the dampers on the smoker.

  • As a rule of thumb, I like to generate smoke for 3.5 to 4 hours if I'm using fruitwood. In my current smoker, that takes about 3 pans of soaked wood chips.

    With the stronger flavored smoke generated by hickory and mesquite, I find I'm better off stopping the smoke after 3 hours.

    Too much smoke flavor is far worse than not enough. Over smoking will cause your sausage to taste acrid and bitter. Under smoking will just result in a less intense smoked flavor, but the sausage will still be very good.

  • Once you have attained the nice brown color and flavor that you want (3-4 hours), stop the smoke and continue to heat the sausage in the smoker until it reaches the 152 degree internal temperature.

At this point, you should have a smoker full of beautiful, brown, appetizing sausage.

As important as the actual smoking is though, the way you handle your sausage links from this point on will have a lot to do with determining the final quality of your product...see step 3 below.

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