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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Grandma's Homemade Breakfast Sausage

By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors


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SausageThis story is from Gary Miles and submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear. 

My grandmother would make homemade breakfast sausage and cook down the tallow to make a sauce-like substance. Then, she’d put a thin layer of the tallow in the bottom of a crock. On top of the tallow, she’d layer sausage and then tallow and then sausage until the crock was filled to the top.  After this layering, she’d cover everything with a towel and keep it in a cool place.  My grandmother would use this for the entire winter season.

Photo by Fotolia/Heater 


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charles spedale
8/20/2012 3:33:18 PM

By not giving all the details of this storage method , I think some who may use this method are at risk of serious food poisoning. My family used a metal lard can , the size of a 5 gallon bucket , instead of a crock. What you saw as a child was probably raw sausages when she put them into the crock. The key to it is to have the tallow (we call it lard or grease in the south ) so hot that its smoking hot . Pour it over the meat quickly , making sure there are no voids or air spaces . My great grandma used peeled willow switches for spacers between meat like pork chops , hung the sausages in the lard can. This smoking hot hog lard is over 400F .So it cooks the meat/sausages kills all of the bacteria and seals out air and prevents bacteria from growing because it is a sterile anerobic enviroment . You MUST cover the meat with lard/tallow each time you dig some out to cook. A wooden spoon or wooden spatchula was kept on top of the can for this purpose. I'm not sure but i think the wood was just so you would not scratch up the inside of the can while you were digging out your lunch. So smooth out the lard then recover the crock . Also this crock needs to be large so that it will take a long time for the lard to cool.... do not spoon it in... pour it fast so that its smoking hot and stays that way , for a while . Make sure all the meat is covered by at least 3 inches of lard. Cover the can/crock let cool and place in a cool place . The towel would be ok for a crock on the kitchen counter , but mice and rats will get in the lard and ruin your meat so I'd put something solid over it if you store is in a cellar or pantry... I'm just not into sharing my food with mice. This method was used by my family into the late 1940's to preserve sausages and some pork meat cut thin into chops , without the bone. I was told the bone would spoil the meat. For longer term storage a pressure canner will be a safer bet . Also no animal except a hog will have enough fat to store a lot of meat in this way . Deer tallow along with , elk , and moose doesn't taste good. Also to add if you store meat this way for your heart health it's a good idea to boil the meat or steam it to remove some of the extra fat , when you cook it.