I was going to title this post Minnie’s Farm Fresh Sausage after my grandmother, who made and canned sausage every fall. Minnie lived on a farm in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee in a little town called Flag Pond. When it turned cold, about October or November, the hogs were slaughtered, and Minnie made pork sausage. She stored the sausage in quart sized Mason jars filled with lard she rendered herself, and kept the jarred sausage year round in her root cellar. She stored all of her jarred food in the root cellar including her famous apple butter. After the harvest in the fall, Minnie accumulated large piles of potatoes and onions and stored those in the root cellar, too. Her root cellar had a dirt floor and dirt walls, which served to keep up a steady temperature so the foods wouldn’t freeze or get too hot. (Wish we could have root cellars in Florida. It would be an awesome place to make wine!)
I decided not to name this post Minnie’s Farm Fresh Sausage after all. Minnie never measured ingredients, so the ingredients listed here are based on my assessment of how much black pepper, sage, salt, and crushed red pepper should be mixed with 5 pounds of ground pork. I don’t raise hogs, or render lard, or own a root cellar. When Minnie put up sausage, she filled the jars with sausage and hot lard (a very old method of storing sausage), tightened the rings, and turned the jars upside down for processing. When the jars were cool, she turned them right side up and put them in the root cellar. Pressure canning was not a part of the process. The variation in our methods, I think, will surely make some notable difference in taste.
Things you should know before you get started
- Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning sausage. Sausage is fried first, then hot-packed in preparation for pressure canning (see Step 5).
- The old method for preserving sausage is done by placing fried sausage in crocks or jars, then filling them with hot lard. The jars are not processed in a pressure canner. I don’t recommend this method unless you have a root cellar or another cool storage area.
- Keep meat as cool as possible during preparation to keep the pork from spoiling.
- Remove large pieces of fat from meat. This will help keep the meat grinder from clogging up.
- Leave 1-inch head-space in Mason jars.
What you need to get started
To make two quart sized Mason jars of sausage, you will need the following ingredients:
- 5 pounds of pork butt
- 4 teaspoons canning and pickling salt
- 2 tablespoons of dried sage
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 healthy pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 pound of lard or vegetable shortening
- water or broth, enough to fill jars
- 3 quarts water for canner
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar for canner
To properly prepare the sausage, you will need the following equipment:
- dissolvable labels and a permanent marker
- 2 quart sized mason jars
- home canning utensil set (jar funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, bubble remover and head space tool)
- meat grinder
- cast iron skillet or frying pan
- secure grip jar lifter and handler
- 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
How to prepare sausage for canning
Step 1: Wash and sterilize jars
Wash and prepare jars, lids, and rings. Sterilize jars by submerging in a large pot of water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. This will keep the jars hot until ready for use. Add lids to a small pot of boiling water. Reduce heat, and keep temperature set on medium-low until ready to use. Rings do not need to be sterilized.
Step 2: Grind the pork
Cut the pork butt into small pieces and feed through the meat grinder. Remove any large pieces of fat before grinding. Fat will clog up the grinder and make the ground pork mushy. Keep the pork refrigerated before and after grinding, until it’s ready to be fried.
Step 3: Add the seasoning
Add seasonings to the ground pork and mix well. You can also add the seasoning to the cut up pork before grinding, then grind everything together. Do not taste the raw pork mixture. It can make you seriously ill.
Step 4: Prepare the sausage
Heat a quarter pound of lard or vegetable shortening in frying pan. Shape pork in 2-inch round balls or larger and flatten. Fry sausage on medium heat until brown on both sides (sausage will shrink in size while cooking). Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain. Add additional lard or shortening as needed to keep juices in the pan. To make a broth from the pan drippings, skim excess grease and remove from pan. Loosen pieces from bottom of pan using a spoon. Fill pan with cold water to about 1-inch from top of pan and bring to a boil.
Step 5: Pressure can the sausage
Remove jars from simmering water using a jar lifter. Place funnel on top of jar; pack hot sausage loosely in hot Mason jars, leaving 1-inch head-space. Cover sausage with boiling broth or water leaving 1-inch head-space. Insert head-space tool around the inside of the jar to remove any bubbles that might have formed. Using the lid lifter, adjust jar lids; secure the rings. Place 3 quarts of hot water, canning rack, and jars in canner. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar to water in canner (helps avoid stains on jars). Place jars in pressure canner using jar lifter. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use your particular pressure canner. Process at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes. NOTE: Do not open pressure canner until internal pressure has been completely reduced, air vent/cover lock has dropped, and no steam escapes when the pressure regulator is removed.
Serving size: 114g Calories: 350 Fat: 25.2g Saturated fat: 7.9g Carbohydrates: 0.2g Protein: 29.5g Cholesterol: 87mg
There are excellent resources available on sausage making and pressure canning. I recommend The Sausage-Making Cookbook: Complete Instructions and Recipes for Making 230 Kinds of Sausage Easily in Your Own Kitchen and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and buy the product, I will receive a very small commission of the sales price. This helps me keep Olives-n-Okra alive. I use all of the products listed in this post routinely, and I trust the companies that make them.