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replacing nitrates in summer sausage recipe

Jocelyn Campbell

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 3118
Location: Missoula, MT
I finally received my uncle's yummy ground beef summer sausage recipe, and, oops, it has nitrates/nitrites in it!

I'm wondering if there are some knowledgeable folks out there who could tell me if replacing the "Morton Tender Quick" with plain salt will work as well, or if I should add more salt, and/or celery juice, or cook it differently.

Here's his recipe:

5 lbs ground beef (needs the 80/20% fat beef)
5 teaspoons Morton Tender Quick
2 tablespoons unground mustard seed
5 tablespoons course ground pepper
2.5 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Day 1 - mix all above ingredients in large tupperware bowl - burp air and refrigerate
Day 2 - mix again and refrigerate
Day 3 - repeat
Day 4 - repeat
Day 5 - mix again on the 5th or 6th day and form into equal loaves of 5 or 6. Line bottom of broiler pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Bake in oven at about 190 degrees F, turn every 90 minutes to retain shape and even cooking. Approximate cooking time: 7 - 8 hours.

I think I'd prefer to use fresh, pressed garlic instead of the powder, and would love some alternative suggestions for the liquid smoke, too, if you have any. Making in a smoker would be a real solution, though like my uncle, I'd probably make this in a regular oven.

Any suggestions or better recipes out there?

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Ivan Weiss

Joined: Dec 19, 2009
Posts: 160
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
Hi Jocelyn:

I have learned through experience that it is far more convenient and effective to use garlic powder as opposed to fresh crushed garlic. The powder, because of its granularity, distributes throughout the mixture far more uniformly.

There is garlic powder, and then there is garlic powder. I dehydrate and grind all my own garlic powder. I never buy that sawdust that they sell in the stores. Mine stays fresh and aromatic for months with a good tight seal.

As for nitrates and nitrites, choose your poison. By using nitrates and nitrites, you run a small risk of getting cancer from nitrosamines. Cancer can be detected early and treated. If so, you might have a fighting chance. By not using nitrates and nitrites, you run a small risk of getting clostridium botulinum, which will be detected only after you have died, quickly and quite painfully, with no chance to treat it, fighting or otherwise. I use the nitrates and nitrites and don't think twice about it. Others' mileage may vary.

Pastured pork and beef on Vashon Island, WA.
John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6887
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
Try going to this guy's site. He answers almost any question you may have regarding sausages (and has about 150 Int'l recipes):
Mick Cressman

Joined: Jan 02, 2011
Posts: 23
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
Ivan is 100% correct. Also, from the few books I've read, the nitrates and nitrites is sausage are at lower levels than many vegetables. Something about beet greens having 1000 times the level as summer sausage has assuaged my fears. I forget the vegetables and the numbers, but in another book I read something about nitrates and nitrites being useful in the intestine, naturally, to prevent botulism in the moist, oxygen excluded environment that the bacteria likes to grow in. not every toxin is unnatural, and many toxins are necessary for our survival.
Jocelyn Campbell

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 3118
Location: Missoula, MT
Ivan - excellent points both on the garlic and preventing food poisoning.
John - wow, what an informative site!
Mick - interesting perspective naturally occurring nitrites and nitrates.

I'll be reading more before I try this. Thank you for the great replies all around!

I agree. Here's the link:
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