Safe Sausage-Making Spices and Seasonings

Spices for sasuage Featured image

THERE ARE SEVERAL SPICE CHOICES WHEN MAKING SAUSAGE, BUT ONLY A HANDFUL ARE RECOMMENDED.

When casing your own sausage, you may be limited to the type of ingredients you can use, but there’s still a wide range of spices and seasonings that are always okay to use.  Below is a list of spices for sausage making.

MOST COMMON SPICES FOR SAUSAGES

Spices for sasuage In bottles

Feel free to experiment and invent your own special blend of seasonings and name it whatever you want. Take it to the next level: print your own label and tape it to an empty bottle… Okay, so maybe that’s a bit too geeky – well, they don’t call us the #MeatGeeks for no reason ;).

  • Allspice
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cayenne
  • Chile Peppers
  • Chili Powder

  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Mace
  • Paprika

  • Sage
  • Salt
  • Thyme

Global Options

All around the world Spices for sasuage

It is amazing just how many kinds of sausages there are, virtually every region and country on earth has their own seasoned ground meat sausage product. And they all use spices, more than one, so the spice choices are equally daunting.

Here is an alphabetized list of the many of the spices and herbs that you will find in sausage recipes:

  • Anise
  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Caraway
  • Cayenne
  • Chiles
  • Cloves
  • Coriander

  • Cumin
  • Dill weed
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Mace
  • Marjoram
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano

  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Thyme
  • White Pepper

Whole Or Ground?

Whole and Ground Spices

Many of the spices listed you can buy in an intact, full seed form. Is that the best way to use them? This is a big question. Starting intact, you will get more flavor from these and similar spices. Most of them have aromatic characteristics which are retained by not grinding them down in advance. As a result some people like to use them whole, to get the entirety of their flavor. Here’s some of the full seed choices:

  • Allspice Berries
  • Anise
  • Caraway

  • Celery Seed
  • Cloves
  • Dill Seed

  • Fennel
  • Mustard
  • Peppercorns, any color

The tradeoff to using them whole is that folks enjoying the sausage may find it disconcerting to get the full flavor bomb of some these intense spices in a single spot. What’s a cook to do? One solution, if you are grinding your own meat, is to mix them in with the cubes and run the seasoning through the grinder as well. Typically this will just crack them into smaller, but not ground up, pieces. You can get a similar affect by cracking them with a mortar and pestle. Lastly, you can co-opt your blade type coffee grinder to give you a coarsely broken version of these immediately before making the sausage.


I always recommend using whole spices for things like pepper, bay leaves, and other pickling-type spices. Try and avoid finely ground spices – their flavors get “lost in the mix”, and they will not be as prominent as a standard-ground spice.

When using onion or garlic, I recommend fresh-chopped. Also, you will usually want to avoid mincing your garlic or onion – I recommend a coarse consistency.


Salts

SALTS for sasuage

Salt is a spice that comes in endless varieties, so which is best? Better yet, let’s start with what not to use: don’t use an iodized salt. Salt is an important part of most sausages, so don’t skimp here. Use a high-quality salt. The salt is responsible for preserving your sausage, help with holding it together, and flavoring it. With all that considered, we recommend a canning salt, purified salt or kosher salt.

I don’t want to skimp on the quality of my salt, how do I know if my salt is good enough?

Man testing salt quality in water

Salt Quality Test

Try this, take a cup of water and put a teaspoon of salt into it. As the salt began dissolving did the water turn cloudy? Not good. Clear, and you’re in the clear; not clear and well, not clear. If your water turned cloudy then it’s likely that your salt has a high level of “heavy metals”.

Note: Try not to alter the amount of salt that a recipe calls for, as salt is also used as a preservative. Be aware that weight is the best measure. Coarse salt can only be half as much by weight, when measured by volume, because of the space between the large grains.

What kind of salt should I be using?

Good question. Salt is a spice that comes in endless varieties, so which is best? Better yet, let’s start with what not to use: don’t use an iodized salt. Salt is an important part of most sausages, so don’t skimp here. Use a high-quality salt. The salt is responsible for preserving your sausage, help with holding it together, and flavoring it. With all that considered, I recommend a canning or purified salt. I also like using kosher salt for cooking.

I don’t want to skimp on the quality of my salt, how do I know if my salt is good enough?

Try this, take a cup of water and put a teaspoon of salt into it. As the salt began dissolving did the water turn cloudy? Not good. Clear, and you’re in the clear; not clear and well, not clear. If your water turned cloudy then it’s likely that your salt has a high level of “heavy metals”.

Note: Try not to alter the amount of salt that a recipe calls for, as salt is also used as a preservative.

Sugar

Sugar for sasuage

This is a surprisingly common ingredient in many sausage recipes. You do not have to find anything special for this category, just good old refined white sugar works. Modern brown sugar is white refined sugar with a small amount of molasses added back in. Which is great. We like using brown sugar, but again you do not need anything fancy, off the shelf works great.


Garlic And Onion

Garlic And Onion for sasuage

We love them both and all the flavor they bring to our food. Here are a couple things to be aware of. The spores of C. botulinum (botulism) are often found on garlic, and don’t pose a particular threat until it is allowed to grow in an airless, moist, warm environment, when it then begins producing neurotoxin. The sausage making process can provide that environment. In particular we recommend caution using raw whole garlic in any sausage that you are planning for long term curing and storage. Fresh sausage; bring it on and cook it up within the week, you will be much safer.

Both garlic and onion tend to deteriorate and potentially spoil quickly after being chopped. For long term safety we recommend granulated garlic and dehydrated onion flakes or grains. Both of these offer very safe, still flavorful choices in your sausage making recipes.


Other Add-Ins

Seasonings for sasuage

Again, there are a huge number of choices. For seasonings, you see lemon zest in traditional bratwurst, cinnamon in jerk sausage, orange zest in Cantalupo sausage and lime juice in Thai sausages. The full spectrum of citrus flavors and more to experiment with. Or, think curry, with a multitude of spice blends that migrate in different directions from spicy to aromatic.

Lots of sausages will call for wine; white, red, port, all varieties. Apple, sundried tomatoes, and cheese also pop up in various recipes for sausage making. Like so much of cooking that we enjoy, it is all about experimenting and finding what you love to include. Sausage making, whether cased or bulk, has a few safety issues to be cognizant of, but otherwise enjoy the process, and even more importantly the results.

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