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Venison Summer Sausage

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When my husband got a deer a few weeks ago I knew that I wanted to make some venison summer sausage with some of the meat.

Sliced venison summer sausage with cheddar cheese and crackers on a charcuterie board

It’s one of my favorite treats and it’s a skill I’ve been meaning to work on and learn more about. Sausage making just isn’t near as prevalent as it once was and I like to learn some of the old skills our ancestors used to preserve their meat.

It’s surprisingly easy to make, just requires a few simple ingredients and a smoker. I don’t personally recommend making summer sausage in an oven as it will not have the same flavor or consistency, even if you add liquid smoke. This is just another instance that makes a smokehouse or smoker an essential addition to your homestead.

We took some meat, ground it up, added pork, seasoned it, and stuffed some non-edible fibrous casings and I’m ready to make a few more pounds. Perhaps with some added jalapeno and cheddar for a little kick. But, for now, I wanted to share what we did to make this batch which resulted in 3 sausages, by the way, and go over some common questions and tips to help you make your own.

Do I need to add pork fat to venison to make summer sausage?

Do you have to? No. However, since venison is so lean, it will typically make for very dry sausage that is not bound together very well.

The jury is still out on how much pork you should add to your venison when making sausage. Some people believe you should keep a 50/50 ratio. However, this will give it quite a bit of pork flavor. I didn’t find this necessary.

I found a ratio of about 75/25 game to pork works pretty well. Did I use an exact science? No. But, using pork trimmings, butt, or shoulder provides a good amount of fat to bind the sausage together while still maintaining the venison flavor I was after.

Sliced venison summer sausage

How to Safely Make Summer Sausage from Venison

  • Keep your meat cold at all times. You can chill your ground venison while you grind up the pork trimmings. Put both in the fridge for a few minutes to keep them cold before grinding them together. Another option is to use partially frozen meat when grinding so it takes a while to warm up. Regardless, keep it cold.
  • Make sure you mix all of the ingredients, including the cure, in water so that the cure can dissolve and everything is easier to evenly distribute throughout the sausage.
  • Use the best, high quality ingredients when making sausage. I recommend pastured pork and organic spices and seasonings.
  • Soak the casings in water for about 30 minutes before stuffing. You can simply add them to some water before you start grinding and mixing. Rinse them off after they’ve soaked to remove some of the excess salt.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure the finished product has reached 160 degrees before removing it from the smoker.

Supplies Needed to Make Your Summer Sausage

You don’t need a ton to make this sausage recipe, but you do need a few things to make life easier.

How to Store Summer Sausage

First and foremost, this recipe must be left in the refrigerator or freezer once it is cooked and cooled.

Summer sausage is best stored in vacuum-sealed packages in the refrigerator or freezer until it is ready to consume. Once you open the package, store it in a tightly sealed reusable bag or tightly cover the end with foil or some other sort of wrap.

Deer summer sausage on a cracker topped with cheddar cheese.

How long is venison summer sausage good for?

Frozen summer sausage will keep indefinitely, but its palatability begins to wane after about a year. Once opened, it will keep in the refrigerator for roughly a month.

Of course if you see mold, it smells off, is making science experiments on your fridge shelf or something else… throw it out. But typically speaking it will keep for a pretty long time as long as it is properly handled and stored.

Sliced venison summer sausage with cheddar cheese and crackers on a charcuterie board
Yield: 12 Pounds

Venison Summer Sausage

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 4 hours 30 minutes

Traditional, smoked venison summer sausage blended with pork for the best moisture content and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 7 Pounds Venison (ground)
  • 5 Pounds Pork Trimmings (ground)
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 5 Tablespoons Morton Tender Quick
  • 1/3 Cup Sea Salt
  • 1/8 Cup Whole Mustard Seed
  • 1/8 Cup Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Basil

Instructions

  1. Place 3-4 fibrous casings in water and allow them to soak for about 30 minutes while you prepare the sausage.
  2. If you haven't already, grind your venison and pork, separately with a course plate. Then, grind them together to mix them.
  3. Combine seasonings, cure and water in a bowl. Then, mix them together with the meat. You can do this by hand, use a stand mixer, or mix and grind them all together.
  4. Stuff the sausage into fibrous or natural casings that are 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter using a grinder with stuffing attachment or a sausage stuffer.
  5. Place stuffed casings into refrigerator and allow them to sit, undisturbed for 24 to 48 hours. The longer they sit, the more flavorful they will become.
  6. Pre-heat smoker to 175°F and hang sausages to smoke for about 4 hours or until internal temperature reaches 155°F.
  7. Cool the sausages off naturally then store in refrigerator or freezer. They are now ready to eat. Storing them in a vacuum sealed bag is best, but not necessary.

Notes

We enjoy smoking our sausages over hickory wood for the best flavor.

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Larry

Friday 26th of November 2021

Might want to consider less pork fat, my personal recipe has 12 pound venison to 3 pounds fat. The color and texture is personal preference. I add liquid or powder smoke as well as cooking in the smoker.

Jeremy

Monday 29th of November 2021

@Danielle McCoy, how much cheese would you add to a recipe this size?

Danielle McCoy

Saturday 27th of November 2021

Thanks for the tips, we like it the way it is, though :).

Erin

Monday 8th of November 2021

Your recipe sounds great but is there a substitute for the quick tender? We are trying to avoid nitrates as much as possible.

Danielle McCoy

Tuesday 9th of November 2021

Absolutely, you can use non-iodized sea salt, kosher salt, or pink Himalayan salt in place of the tender quick.

Ashley

Tuesday 10th of November 2020

This looks delicious! I am working on a list of projects to keep my hubby busy this winter with his smoker. Thank you for sharing this.

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