This article will be presented in two parts as this first section is a review on Zaycon’s new product, their sausage links, which will include the results of my canning experience of this sausage product and then tomorrow you'll see all of the detailed canning instructions. Yup, I’ve already ruined the best part of this gripping tale of mystery—hee hee—yes, you CAN can sausage. Since I’ve already provided you with a spoiler, I might as well give you a little bit more “spoiling” by telling you that not only can you can your sausage BUT…it’s easier than any of the other protein products that I’ve ever canned. Yay!! So let’s start at the beginning so that I can answer all of the anticipated questions.
I received 60 pounds of Zaycon’s newest product last month, sausage links. The funny thing is that since I’ve been purchasing Zaycon’s chicken, bacon and ground beef in excess of a hundred pounds each time (because I usually get it FREE or no more than 64 cents a pound!), their Sausage Sales Event of 20 pound increments seemed to be so tiny in comparison, so I ordered 3 of their 20 pound packages thinking that it would provide us with breakfast sausage sufficient for 4 to 6 months. Well, boy was I wrong! I received 6 of the relatively small boxes, each holding 10 pounds of beautiful sausage links that were custom-made for Zaycon by Farmland.
As I began to inventory the number of sausage links in each box it seems that they kept going and going and going. The boxes are packed based on weight of the meat, not the number of sausages as indicated when I opened one box that just had a few sausage links laying on the top with the subsequent rows packed full of more links. All in all the 6 boxes contained more than 6 layers of 26 sausages each; 6 boxes coming in at just under 1,000 links. Yup, that’s a lot of breakfast sausage.
Crisis—The Mother of Invention:
I had put off the chore of canning the sausage when I first got it partly because I was discouraged with all that I had read on the internet and in my pressure canner’s instruction manual about the problems with canning sausage. (The other reason was because I just wasn’t in the mood!) The online consensus was that canned sausage just doesn’t’ have the same taste or is as good as fresh. My experience with the canned meats that I had tried in the past was that it turned out BETTER than regular cooking from fresh as it was more tender, had a greater depth of flavor, and was always just plain fabulous. But after reading hours and hours of what others had to say, I was nearly convinced that sausage wouldn’t enjoy the same results. Major bummer. However Life had other plans for me as I discovered this past Thursday that our large upright freezer was no longer keeping our meats frozen throughout. As a result, I suddenly had to hurry and can all of my proteins before they went bad. Since I now had limited freezer space elsewhere in the house, I knew I had better start canning all that I could and I’d better solve my sausage problem.
Whether it’s a marketing campaign, meal planning for a year, purchasing a new firearm, or taking on a new method of training the dogs, I’m all about TESTING things first. I’ve discovered that testing saves me a LOT of stress, time, and most definitely money. So, I decided to apply some of the old fashioned principles of canning to the sausage and can them three different ways, but each way would be without water. I only did one pint of each so as to TEST which ones turned out well.
First of all, in order to have a baseline, I cooked up some of the sausage links to see how they tasted PRE-canning. I don't know what happened. The Boogie Man must have been right there beside me because before I could share these 3 links with the hubby, they were all gone. I thought that they tasted perfect. Not too spicy but definitely not bland. So now it was time to move on to testing whether or not this product actually COULD be canned, otherwise I was going to have quite the problem on my hands.
I filled one pint jar with links that I had cooked all the way through. (That jar wasn’t very full because I tasted that sausage too after I cooked it and, yep, you guessed it, it was tasty as well. That's called BATCH Quality Control. *grin* I really did love, love, love it. It’s definitely a winner of my attention the next time Zaycon offers it.) After doing research I had decided NOT to try canning it the traditional way with packing the meat down and adding water to it. After all, "pork broth" just doesn't sound good or necessary and my old-timer notes showed very successful canning for some meats when canned this way. So I decided that sausage fit the bill.
I filled another pint jar with raw links, and then the third jar I filled with the innards of the links, as if it was just ground sausage, however, I was careful to pack that particular jar lightly. My rule of thumb is that when you pressure can ground meats, it’s best to cook them first and then rinse it and then pack it and top it off with hot water just before canning. However, given the problems that I was seeing online, I decided that I would still can it raw, but NOT pack it so firmly so as to ensure that all of it got sufficiently cooked during the canning process. You have a LOT more surface space when you are doing ground meat.
The next day I opened the three canned sausage methods, browned them (or warmed them up as in the case of the pre-cooked sausage) and shared them with a friend and my hubby to get their feedback.
The verdict? All three of the sausages were really good, but the one that was pre-cooked and then canned just wasn’t as great as the others that were pressure canned raw. I’ve come to believe that one’s canning experience depends on the quality of the product you start with. Clearly the Zaycon sausage was a great product and it did very well in holding up to the prolonged, high pressure. (Upper left of the picture was the pre-cooked. Upper right is the raw links. Bottom center of picture is that which I just took out of the casings and canned.) Wanting to take this experiment a step further I then proceeded to try the sausage every day for 3 days. The results didn't vary however, I did discover that it's important to remove and drain the sausage from the cooking pan as soon as they are done and allow them to shake off some of the grease otherwise they tasted a bit "wet" inside, for lack of a better word. I had forgotten to do so on one of the batches as there was a marked difference in taste and texture.
Bottom line—these were DEE-LISH-OUS Before And After Canning!!
I'd say that purchasing the Zaycon Sausage is worth your time and Farmland and Zaycon have a great relationship! Getting the sausage at a stark discount doesn't hurt either. I strongly encourage you to enroll to receive the Zaycon Sales Event e-mails EVEN if they aren't in your area yet. (They are all over but I always hear from a whiner or two about them not being in their area. My typically unpublished response to that is "So what? There's STILL all kinds of fabulous opportunities available to others you know AND you can still get them in your area. I'm really easily repelled with whining and the words "I can't.") When you enroll, you'll get your very own Referral Link that you can share with others and tell them about Zaycon. Everytime someone enrolls from your Referral Link they are your referral forever. So everytime they make a purchase you get $1 in Zaycon credits. So even if they aren't in your area it doesn't prevent you from sharing them with other people elsewhere in the U.S. and accruing Zaycon dollars in the meantime. There's nothing quite so motivating as seeing that you have enough Zaycon Dollars sitting in your account that would buy you 40 pounds of the best boneless chicken breasts I've ever seen. *grin*
One of the items on my “list” of items to stock up on and can was ground sausage. I wanted it to add some punch into homemade spaghetti sauce, on sourdough pizzas, inside calzones, etc. So before I got the sausage I had hoped to be able to remove the casing from some of the links and “make” ground sausage out of it or at the very least I was hoping that I could cook up some of the links, then slice them and then can them. As you'll see in tomorrow's article, I was even able to do this with these sausage links. Yes, I suspect that if I purchased ground sausage at the store it would be less expensive per pound than the links, but since this order was free for me anyway, I had no problem creating "ground sausage" from the links and yes, of course, it tasted JUST as great.
Well, now that you know the verdict, tune in tomorrow for the EZ PZ Canning Instructions for this fabulous sausage.