Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Step into Sausage Making!

Today I picked up my order of pork shoulder from Acme Meat Market and dove head first into the world of sausage making!

Needless to say (if you've been following, even causally, my blog) that I obviously put a lot of time, effort and $ into being prepared for this. Getting the correct curing salts, doing research on the equipment I'd need, how to tell if something has gone wrong, sourcing suppliers, etc.

For my first round of sausage making I did a Jagerwurst (Hunter's Sausage).

It's very similar to a ham or garlic sausage that you'd find in the grocery store. It has curing salt #1 in it and is hot smoked, which fully cooks it. There is no drying/curing time in the cellar for this one, which is why I chose it (greater chance of success! lol)
The spices are (in the order I remember them in): coriander seed, mustard seed, ginger, nutmeg, garlic, blackpepper

It didn't get smoked today. That'll be for tomorrow when I have the Chorizo to go. The chorizo gets a cold smoke then goes in the curing cellar.
Also being made tomorrow is a fresh sausage (no smoking, no curing), kielbasa (Rulhman's recipe from "Charcuterie").

Then, when I get around to it, an all-beef peperone (pepperoni) in natural sheep casing. It's a non-smoked dry-cured sausage that'll be perfect for my friend Sean! He's allergic to pork and is gluten-intolerant. Since I can control everything and it's a smaller size which means it'll be more likely to succeed (dry-curing time is only 6 to 10days for sheep casing) it'll be a marvelous treat when it's done!

Here's some pics of what happened this evening...

Pork Shoulder from Acme

Beautiful! isn't it? :)
(sorry, no pics of all the spices. I'll remember to do that tomorrow for Chorizo)

Step one in the grinding process. Coarse grind. Then, half of that was put back through on a fine grind. Mix them all up and it's ready to stuff!

Natural hog casing, soaking in water.

Finished product! Ready to be looped into rings and hot smoked over some applewood tomorrow.

I'll post tomorrow on the status of the hot smoking as well as the other sausages.

And I'll even try to remember to take more pictures :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

DIY, is it worth it?

I recently came across this article written by an urban homesteader in San Francisco Bay area.

It brings up some valid points... buying organic produce to make your own jams and pickles or organic pasture meats to make your own bacon can be WAY more expensive than buying organic products in a supermarket, or even a farmer's market.

Doing those types of home preservation isn't about saving money (though sometimes it is), it is about supporting local producers and knowing about your food. Does that mean you always have to make your own products? Of course not! Buy from your local bakery that uses local grown and milled grain products. Buy meats and eggs and dairy from the farmer's market, direct from the farmer, and use those in your home.
That'll support your local economy and farmers more than you realize.

However, when it comes to homesteading, it's about growing $2000 worth of produce from $30 worth of seed and learning how to store it over the winter so you don't have to go buy from the supermarket.
It's about, if you have the space, to have a hobby farm with chickens or a goat or two, maybe even a dairy cow or a couple pigs, and tending to them for eggs and meat and milk.
But it takes commitment.
Getting your money's worth out of your animals doesn't happen in a year. Not even in 2 years. Try 8 or ten.
That's when all your investment in supplies and materials and animals begins to pay off.

It's a lifestyle.

An urban homesteader has to realize that it's a lot of hard work to raise chickens for eggs and meat (pens, shelter, feed, TIME), and that chickens generally DON'T lay eggs in winter. Supermarkets have eggs all year 'round because they have UV lights making the chickens lay eggs all year 'round and that's why those chickens get burned out and end up being "tossed" when they can't keep up with production.
To have a couple goats just for milk?! In the city? Yeah, you're a little crazy. You have to tend to them (clip hooves, milk them, clean up after them), give them shelter from the elements ($ and space) and then feed them ($ and time finding and storing enough feed, especially over the winter).

Why go through all that when you have a full time job to go to, a social life and friends to keep up with, television shows to watch, twitter conversations to follow?!?!?

It's crazy, right?

If you think of it as a hobby or "something fun to try". It's a lifestyle choice. It takes time. It takes an investment of time and money.
It seems really expense to go through all that just for something you can buy in the store.

Then don't do it. Find some trusted farmer's at a market and buy their products. It's why they're there.

What homesteading and preserving is about is self-sufficiency. Knowing where your food is from. Feeding your family with healthy, non-gmo, products that you know what all the ingredients are and can pronounce them all!

In North America we are spoiled with the amount of food we have available to us. We waste it. We destroy it. We mutate it. We change it into things that our great grandmothers wouldn't even consider food and then consume it as our main source of energy.
And we're dieing of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. We pump our food-animals full of antibiotics and drugs to keep them healthy when they're not. We then consume them and then we become unhealthy ourselves.
We moved from natural fats like lard, suet, butter and olive oil to commercial fats like margarine, canola oil (though you can now get cold pressed), and "butter". I say "butter" because the store bought butter has trans-fats in it without any indication of a additive in the ingredients label. Trans-fat is a MAN MADE fat. Butter is a natural product. Trans-fats are not found in nature. You see where I'm going...

Anyways, read the article. Decide for yourself whether or not learning those skills are something you want to commit to. Or, if you want to support your local farmer's and buy their products instead of giving your money to industrial farms.

Also, go visiting Kevin Kossowan. He posted something that plays into this debate quite nicely... It's about eating seasonally and how things taste better when you don't eat them everyday...