Fresh sausage is simply meat with your choice of sausage seasoning. It is mixed together and then used right away or frozen for a later date – it is not shelf stable or preserved. Great examples of Fresh Sausage include Breakfast Sausage (links or patties), Italian Sausage, Chorizo and Polish Sausage. Typically, fresh sausage is fried in a skillet or grilled. Fresh Sausage can be made with or without casings.
On the other hand, Cured Sausage IS cooked at low temperatures for long periods time. The term “Cured” refers to a product called Cure that is added to the meat before cooking. Cure can come in several forms, but LEM Cure is the same as Cure # 1 - it is a mixture of salt and sodium nitrite (6.25%). Other types of Cure include Prague Powder # 1 and # 2, Instacure # 1 and # 2, and Morton's carries several types, which typically have sugar added to them as well.
- Reduces the risk of BOTULISM in meat
- Slightly aids the preservation of meat
- Enhances the flavor of the finished product
- Gives the finished cooked product a pink "cured" color. (If cure is not used, your sausage would be a grey color.)
Great examples of Cured Sausage include deli meats like Salami, Bologna, Pepperoni, and Summer Sausage. Smoked Sausage and Snack Sticks are also types of Cured Sausage.
Cured Sausage is typically cooked at low temperatures in an oven (around 180°) or smoked in a smoker. The internal temperature must reach 165° during the cooking cycle. Cured sausage does not become shelf-stable after the cooking cycle, so you must refrigerate or freeze after cooking.
Cure is definitely a secret to unforgettable flavor when you’re making sausage – but it should only be used in scant measurements. Use only 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or a scant 1/4 teaspoon (1.1 g) for 1 lb. of meat. Do NOT overuse Cure.