Sausage-making workshops teach many lessons
Custer County MSU Extension, in cooperation with MSU Extension programs from surrounding counties, have introduced sausage-making classes to teach lessons on food safety, self-reliance, quality assurance and how processing can increase value.
Following the guidance of Fort Peck Reservation Extension agent Wendy Becker, equipment was purchased to create a mobile teaching lab that provides students an opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the processes required to convert bulk primal cuts of meat to a higher-value sausage product. The curriculum focuses on food safety and proper handling and storage of the meat product. Students choose from a selection of fresh sausage recipes and create a unique product based on personal taste preferences. One learning objective includes identifying cuts of meat and where they come from. Knife and equipment safety is stressed throughout the program as students complete each of the hands-on tasks, including boning and cutting meat before feeding it into an electric meat grinder, measuring and mixing required spices, as well as operating the vertical stuffing machine to fill casings and make links. Students are taught the proper technique to package the finished product in freezer paper to ensure air is eliminated and freezer burn prevented. Students learn the function and proper use of preservatives, salts, smoking and drying in meat preservation.
Custer County MSU Extension presented an adult education-based program for the general public, and another session for attendees of the Miles City Ram Sale. Over 40 individuals participated in the Ram Sale program, creating 60 pounds of lamb sausage links using four different recipes. The lamb sausages were then served to producers at the buyer social.
Workshop demand is growing as word gets out. Workshops have been presented in collaboration with area agents in Dawson, Powder River, Prairie, Fallon and Carter County. Fallon County received a Sustainable Ag Research and Education grant to purchase an additional set of equipment, doubling the size of the class that can be taught. Classes were expanded in 2019 to teach Quality Assurance and where food comes from for 4-H Market animal project members.
To learn more about Custer County, see their program highlights here.