Hold that Sausage!!

The world of sausages is a different place from the days when my family made a damn fine snag in Port Fairy. The meat was chosen by my grandfather (on the hoof he called it) slaughtered by my father and Jack Flavan, butchered by my uncles and made in to sausages in the family butcher shop by Morrie Condon. None of your fancy stuff, just beef and pork, no one had ever heard of lamb sausages!

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Chemicals were unheard of except for two tins, one had Saltpetre (Potassium Nitrate… one of the curing salts used for years and one I hate), the other a herb mix that was bought from a travelling butchers supplier and had been the same for years, contained ground herbs and white pepper. Who ever was making the snags grabbed a fistful of both for about 20 kilo of meat and that was that. The meat to fat ratio would have been 80% meat to 20% fat, the meat was all put through the sausage mincer, then churned in a large wooden trough on the basis that, the more the meat was mixed, the more it softened and the more the meat stuck together. It was then filled into the sausage machine and squeezed under pressure into skins.

I never took much notice of the making, but I was endlessly fascinated by the sausages as they came from the filler and the way the butchers would pinch and twist and end up with a great bunch of glistening sausages that got strung up on a hook and sold as needed.

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Sausages were not regarded as cheap and cheerful but a decent meal, the local hotels would always order them as would the local convent, apparently the nuns, who all knew Dad since he did the deliveries, loved the product. My memory was that sausages were mostly served with gravy, they always were in pubs and mum made what she called a ‘savoury’ gravy that had the pan browning’s, some onions that had been caramelised, a splash of tomato sauce and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a bit of water, all thickened with a mix of butter and plain flour (beurre manie). In my memory it tasted ripper.

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The world has changed in ways that are not always for the better. It is certain that the population of the planet is exploding, some might say beyond that which is sustainable. Primary producers are being asked (or should that be) to produce their products in ever growing volume and frequently coerced into cost savings and passed on to the markets. Sausages have been downgraded and are now seen as a cheap and cheerful meal affordable by even the strugglers. Some of the high end butchers do still produce quality product, and have to charge a lot of money to do so.

Jonathon’s of Collingwood are a local butcher with a huge reputation, they say that in a twenty kilo mix of sausages, they would use 85% meat to about 15% fat with NO chemicals or additives and no extenders. They are 100% real meat. For this you will pay $20.99 a kilo but you will get the goods.

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Spare a thought for butchers who are trying to uphold standards, their job is far from easy. The choices that are available to them are getting narrower and narrower, they are being fenced in by peak bodies and food police who, motivated by a public increasingly afraid of being made sick from bad product, often led by ill informed and rapacious media, they applaud reckless action by the food mafia. The reality is that many manufacturers are sold product from Primary producers that is less than perfect and often contains high percentages of chemicals. There is no concern for the past and the ways of the past.

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My own family were a small local business who not only bought the animals for meat, but slaughtered them and butchered them. This today would not be possible, it would today require that the animals once purchased were sent to an abattoir that was run and licensed by food police. Once slaughtered, the animals could be moved on for butchering in the shop. In fact, most butchers these days do not become involved in the actual buying of animals nor of slaughtering. It would be against the law of the Food Police. Ask any Primary Producer engaged in raising, killing and selling meat about the rules.. they are strong and this does not even start to touch the moral questions.

But…

770 tonnes of Antibiotic are imported in to Australia annually, 550 tonnes is used in livestock production.

Preservatives permitted…

Synthetic Hormones are approved for use in Livestock industry in all states except Tasmania… it is said that 40% of all meats supplied to the Australian market show usage of hormones.

http://www.natureandhealth.com.au/news/how-safe-is-your-food

http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/industry_pdf/preservative_use_in_processed_meats.pdf

The ANZFA story

http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/Search/pages/results.aspx?k=sausage

So sausage lovers, take care, buying from people who do not make their own or indeed who make their own but with less care than we would prefer it’s a fraught affair. I would suggest that you might want to consider making a sausage at home.

http://www.formerchef.com/2010/05/18/how-to-make-fresh-pork-sausage/

and to get some fancy equipment

http://www.huondistributors.com.au

~ by peterwatsonfood on September 26, 2013.

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