Summer Sausage 101: How to Make Homemade Venison Summer Sausage
Looking for the best summer sausage recipe? You're in the right place.
Learn how to make delicious, tangy homemade deer summer sausage with our tried and true Jalapeno Cheddar Venison Summer Sausage recipe. A staple in the Midwest, this large diameter cured sausage can be made from a mixture of pork, beef, venison or other combinations of wild game.
Traditionally stuffed in a pealable fibrous casing, summer sausage has a distinct tanginess that comes from fermented cultures (traditional) or additions like encapsulated citric acid. We also love to add in high temp cheddar cheese for a creamy bite. The perfect sliceable sausage to serve at your next party or gathering.
How to Make Summer Sausage
Ready for the best dear summer sausage you'll ever taste? The experts show you how to make summer sausage in a few easy steps. Let's get started with our venison sausage recipe!
For the full tutorial, watch Chef Jed and Master Meat Crafter Ben Gehring make the best venison summer sausage recipe:
What is Summer Sausage?
Summer sausage is a type of cured meat first created in Europe prior to refrigeration technology. Using several types of preservation methods, these sausages could be enjoyed during the summer months without spoiling. That's why it is called summer sausage.
One of these was the use of cultures, allow the meat to ferment, lowering the pH and slowing the growth of bacteria. Similar to salami, Summer Sausage is semi-dry and doesn't lose as much moisture content during processing as its cured cousins.
Despite its name, summer sausage is commonly found in holiday spreads and festive gift baskets during the colder winter months.
The Best Meat-to-Fat Ratios to Make Summer Sausages
The key to getting that perfect summer sausage texture is making sure you have the correct lean to fat ratios. We recommend a range of 20-25% fat and 75-80% lean for the finished product.
If your ratio is too lean, the texture could be dry and crumbling; too fatty, and you can risk bleed out during processing.
This is especially important when using lean game meats like venison or elk. To add fat, we recommend using pork trim or a fatty pork shoulder or butt roast. Pork trim, or the trimmings from the shoulder or butt, are typically available at your local butcher shop (make sure to call ahead!).
How to Grind Summer Sausage
Summer sausage traditionally has nice visible separation between fat and lean meat. To get that texture, we recommend grinding first through a 3/8“ plate then once through a 3/16” plate. You don't want to force larger chunks of meat through the smaller grinder as it can damage your plates and cause smearing.
Pro tip: Remember to always keep your sausage meat cold! We recommend popping your meat block back into the cooler between grinds to prevent smearing.
Once each of your proteins has been ground, you can begin mixing by hand or by using a meat mixer. We recommend doing it by hand for batches less than 25 lbs as you don't want to break the encapsulated citric acid or high-temp cheese if you're adding them.
Summer Sausage Seasoning
You can't always describe it, but you can always recognize that distinctive smoky-salty-slightly tangy summer sausage flavor. From traditional to a little spicy, our range of summer sausage seasonings always deliver bold flavor:
- No. 500 Blue Ribbon Summer Sausage: This staple seasoning has traditional yet bold summer sausage flavors that have earned numerous trophies around the country. Comes with Maple Cure.
- No. 405 Blue Ribbon Garlic Summer: Garlic lovers will love this best-selling seasoning. Comes with Maple Cure
- No. 391 Jalapeno Summer Sausage: Kick the flavor up a few notches with this jalapeno version of our blue ribbon seasoning. Just the right amount of heat! Comes with Maple Cure.
Summer Sausage Curing
All of our summer sausage seasonings come complete with cure for up to 25 lbs. of meat. Nitrites help preserve the red in the meat in the absence of oxygen and also kill bacteria that can result in food-borne illnesses. Add the appropriate amount of cure for your meat batch to your water and stir to combine.
For that signature tangy flavor in summer sausage, you can either add a starter culture (traditional) or encapsulated citric acid. Using a starter culture converts sugars present in the meat into lactic acid, which develops along with the cure, lowering the pH of the meat and enhancing shelf life.
When using a culture, you'll have to add in a fermentation cycle to your processing schedule (about 2-4 hours at 85°F with water pan added for humidity).
Alternatively, ECA gives a mouthwatering tang to your finished sausage without a fermentation cycle. When using ECA, add it in to your meat block last and be careful not to overmix. The product should be smoked within 12-24 hours so you don't risk the enzymes breaking the encapsulate.
Bactoferm F-LC Culture is available for purchase from PS Seasoning, but must be ordered via phone at 800-328-8313.
Summer Sausage Casings
Summer sausage traditionally has a larger diameter (about 2-2.5") and is sold in a peelable fibrous casing. Fibrous casings are made from a cellulose material that derives from the Abaca tree, and provide durability, stretch, and perforation for smoke penetration. Casings should be soaked for at least 25-30 minutes in warm water before stuffing.
How to Smoke Summer Sausage
One of the trickiest parts of making summer sausage is the processing or smoking process. If the sausages heat too quickly, the fat has the potential to melt out and the encapsulated acid can break down. The key is to gradually increase the temperature to ensure there's no fat or additive loss inside the summer sausage.
If you're a regular sausage maker, we recommend investing in a high quality electric smokehouse, like the Pro Smoker PK-100, which uses sawdust as smoke fuel. Always refer to your manufacturers instructions for smoking times and temperatures, but as a general rule, our recommend processing schedule is:
- If using a culture, allow to ferment at 85° F for 2-4 hours with a water pan for humidity.
- Increase smokehouse to 110° F and add smoke. Smoke for 2 hours
- Increase temperature to 120° F and smoke for 2 hours
- Increase temperature to 130° F and smoke for 2 hours
- Increase temperature to 140° F and smoke 2 hours
- Increase to 160° F and smoke until the internal temperature of the sausage reaches 150 degrees.
Remove the sausage from the smokehouse and rinse with cool water. Rest at room temperature for one hour before placing in the refrigerator overnight.
Does Summer Sausage Need to Be Refrigerated?
As it is a perishable food item, summer sausage should be refrigerated to help slow down bacterial growth and preserve its freshness.
You may want to store it in an airtight container or wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to protect it from air exposure.
How Long is Summer Sausage Good For?
How long does summer sausage last? Unopened summer sausages (or uncut in the case of homemade summer sausages) can last for about 2 to 3 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
Once your summer sausage is opened, it will typically remain good to consume for about 1 to 2 weeks if stored in the fridge in an airtight container or tightly wrapped foil.
If you are unsure, check for any signs of spoilage such as smells, mold, of texture differences.
How to Eat Summer Sausage
Summer sausage is typically eaten as an appetizer or snack along with cheese, crackers, fruits, and nuts.
Enjoy Your Homemade Summer Sausage!
Now that you've obtained the ultimate sausage making bragging rights, it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Summer sausage should last about 3-4 weeks refrigerated and several months if sealed and frozen. One of our favorite ways to eat summer sausage is sliced Hassleback style and stuffed with more cheese and jalapenos.
What did you think of this deer sausage recipe? Let us know!
For printable instructions, see our recipe below for Jalapeno Cheddar Venison Summer Sausage
Jalapeno Cheddar Venison Summer Sausage
Learn how to make delicious, tangy homemade summer sausage with our tried and true Jalapeno Cheddar Venison Summer Sausage recipe. A staple in the Midwest, this large diameter cured sausage can be made from a mixture of pork, beef, venison or other combinations of wild game.
- 7 LB – Venison
- 3 LB – Pork Butt
126 Grams - #391 Jalapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning
- 83 Gram – Maple Cure
1 ½ LB – High Temp Cheddar Cheese
1 ½ C – Distilled Water
- Culture – Usage amount based on size of batch
- 46 Gram – Dextrose
- Fibrous Casings – 2.5” X 14”
- Set up your grinder with a 3/8” plate. Cut pork and the venison into grinder sized pieces and grind once through.
- Reset the grinder with a 3/16” plate and grind the meat once more.
- Soak the casings in lukewarm water to make more pliable.
- Dissolve the culture in 1 cup of water and pour over the meat.
- Sprinkle in the jalapeno summer sausage seasoning, maple cure. Dextrose and remaining water.
- Mix with your hands for 5-10 minutes until the seasoning is well incorporated and protein extraction starts. (meat should become tacky)
- Add in the high temp cheese and mix until just incorporated.
- Set up your sausage stuffer with the large horn and fill the hopper with the meat.
- Stuff the casings tightly until 2” of casing left. Twist the end and tie off with butcher’s twine.
- Preheat smoker to 85 degrees and hang the sausage on smoke sticks. Place the sausage in the smoker to hang, leaving plenty of room for airflow, to ferment for 2-4 hours. Add a water pan for humidity.
Bump smokehouse temperature up to 110 degrees and add a sawdust pan for smoke
110 degrees 2 hours
120 degrees 2 hours
130 degrees 2 hours
140 degrees 2 hours
160 degrees until the internal temperature of the sausage reaches 150 degrees.
- Remove the sausage from the smoker and rinse with cold water.
- Rest at room temperature for 1 hours before placing in the fridge to cool completely overnight.
- Slice and enjoy!