Sunday, December 23, 2012
Several of you commented on my activity feed about canning jalapeņos and smoking sausage. Preserving foods for later consumption has always been a hobby of mine. It's both a way to keep food from spoiling and also a way to try the food in a different way.
When I have a garden, I always have too many tomatoes, too much okra, and a lot of extra peppers. The solution is canning. I make homemade tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and even salsa. I also make pickled okra and pickled peppers. Pictured below are some of the pickled jalapeņos I made yesterday. I added a few of my habanero peppers, and also a little sliced carrots and onion for flavor.
The smoked sausage takes a LOT longer to make. I grind up some wild hog and venison. I also grind some beef fat to make the sausage a little tastier (the other meat has no fat and would be too dry). After adding the spices and mixing it well (using a little Shiner Bock to make it easier), I stuff the mixture into natural casings. I then smoke the meat for 12-18 hours, starting at about 110 degrees and gradually moving up to 160 degrees. If you do it too fast, all the fat melts and the sausage will be too dry. I actually don't apply the smoke until the meat has an internal temperature of 125 degrees - it adheres to the meat better once the casings have dried out a little. I continue the process until the sausage has an internal temperature of 152 degrees (safe to eat without cooking). I then take the sausage out, spray cold water on it (to keep it from shrinking), and then let it hang for an hour. Finally, I put it in the refrigerator overnight to firm it up just right. It then looks like this:
Why do I like doing all of this? Maybe it is my obsession with food (ha!). But I also just enjoy making something unique that I've done myself. It tastes great and they make excellent gifts, especially this time of year. I just have to make sure I give a lot of that sausage away so I don't eat too much myself!