It is the time of year that many small meat processors are busy processing venison for hunters. Summer sausage is a popular item among hunters. It is characterized by a distinctive tang associated with its reduced pH and a slightly firm texture, which is associated with its reduced moisture content. Summer sausage is classified as a semi-dry sausage because the finished moisture content is less than the starting moisture content. Traditional summer sausage is shelf stable, meaning it does not require refrigeration. To produce shelf-stable summer sausage you must achieve a required pH and water activity. You must monitor these attributes during processing and document that they achieve the required values. Also, traditional summer sausage is often fermented to achieve the desired drop in pH which necessitates a longer processing schedule.

However, venison summer sausage can be produced as a fully cooked, not shelf-stable product. This style of summer sausage requires refrigeration, but it can be processed in a manner that allows it to have the characteristics of traditional summer sausage — reduced pH and a slightly firmer texture — and at the same time be quick and easy to produce. Since it is not shelf stable you are not required to achieve specific pH and water activity levels.

In this quick and easy venison summer sausage the reduction in pH is achieved by utilizing encapsulated citric acid rather than fermentation. Encapsulated citric acid is a product in which citric acid has been encapsulated with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. It looks like little tiny white balls about the size of the head of a small pin. It is added during the mixing of the product in manufacture. It sits dormant in the product until thermal processing. When the internal temperature of the product achieves 141-147? F the hydrogenated vegetable oil coating melts and the citric acid is released into the product lowering its pH.

Following is a formulation and manufacturing procedure that can be used for venison summer sausage.

Don’t forget that this style of summer sausage requires refrigeration. For extended storage it can be frozen.

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