Summer sausage is a general term for any sausage that can be stored for a long time without needing refrigeration until the package is opened. The most common form of summer sausage is made of pork.
However, a summer sausage may also be made with other meats, such as venison or beef. Summer sausage may be consumed on its own or added to dishes to enhance flavor.
Do You Need To Cook Summer Sausage?
It’s not a must to cook summer sausages before you eat them. Summer sausages from the local butcher shop or store are safe to eat out of the package. That’s because they have undergone fermentation, drying, or smoking in addition to the curing process that eliminates harmful bacteria. As such, you can eat your summer sausage as is without further cooking.
Why Isn’t It Necessary to Cook Summer Sausages?
While I can cook my summer sausage and still enjoy it, eating it uncooked is not dangerous. That’s because it has undergone several processes intended to kill disease-causing bacteria and make the sausage edible even without further cooking.
Here are some ways in which summer sausage is processed to make it safe to eat whether cooked or uncooked:
- Sausage curing: It is the most common form of summer sausage curing. The approach entails mixing the curing salts with the spices used in ground meat in sausages.
- Dry curing: It is a process in which dry ground meat in sausages is rubbed with a curing agent to form a protective layer and kill bacteria that may be present in a meat product.
- Brine curing: It is a technique where water is mixed with curing agents and meat is soaked in the solution. The goal is to ensure the brine penetrates deeper into the meat, killing bacteria.
- Smoke curing: It’s a technique that uses several curing salts to kill the bacteria in edible items such as meat. The role of smoking, in this case, is to seal the cured food with an outer layer to keep the bacteria out.
- Combination curing: The technique involves the injection of the brine curing solution into the meat content. However, with this curing mode, it is highly recommended not to eat the sausage before it is cooked. That’s because the solution may not have reached all sausage parts.
Are All Summer Sausages Safe to Eat Uncooked?
While most summer sausages are edible even without cooking them, some might need cooking. Beef and pork summer sausages respond well to various curing techniques and thus may be taken uncooked. That may not be the case with other meats such as poultry and mutton.
If the summer sausage is made from meats such as poultry, mutton, or other meats that may contain more bacteria compared to beef and pork, the curing process may not be enough. It would be advisable to cook these types of sausages before eating them and store them properly in the fridge.
Can Summer Sausages Go Bad if I Refrigerate Them?
On the contrary, summer sausages may last longer when refrigerated than when left at room temperature. The worst part will be if the summer sausage is in a hot environment. Hot temperatures may cause the fat content in the sausage to go rancid, thus leading to spoilage.
While summer sausages are okay to store at room temperature for some time, refrigerating them will extend their shelf life. Unopened summer sausages may last up to six months when refrigerated.
Opened packages, however, will last only last for about three weeks even when kept in the fridge. That’s because when opened, the sausages become exposed to bacteria in the air. Hence, consuming them within three weeks is vital.
How Can I Tell My Summer Sausages Are Spoilt?
Although summer sausages will last for a more extended period compared to other types of meats, they still eventually spoil.
How long it stays good depends on three factors: storage conditions, cooked or uncooked, and sealed or unsealed. Nevertheless, there are several ways in which you can tell if the uncooked summer sausage has gone bad.
- Discoloration: If you find your summer sausage has begun to show white patches, then it is more likely that it is spoilt and should be discarded.
- Foul smell: One way to tell your food items have gone bad is the filthy odor, and summer sausages are no exception. If you notice a foul smell, it’s time to throw away the summer sausage.
- Slimy and slippery texture: If the sausage touch feels greasy and slick, that’s a sign that bacteria are already acting on the sausage, and have already contaminated it. As such, consuming it, especially when uncooked, could pose serious health hazards to you.
- Mold appearance: The presence of mold is also a way to tell that your summer sausage is already spoilt. If you see grey, white, green, or black spots on your sausages, it means mold has already grown on them. Thus, it is best to discard the sausages right away.
Is There a Difference Between Cooked and Uncooked Summer Sausages?
Uncooked summer sausages will differ in some ways from cooked ones. Here are a few differences between the two.
- Taste: The flavor between cooked and uncooked is different in appearance. You’re more likely to feel the taste in a cooked summer sausage than an uncooked one.
- Shelf life: Uncooked summer sausage will have a longer shelf life than cooked ones.
- Color: Uncooked summer sausages appear light and whiter, while cooked ones appear reddish or brown.
Frequently Asked Questions to Do You Need To Cook Summer Sausage?
Can I Eat Summer Sausages Uncooked?
Most summer sausages, especially those made of beef, poultry, or both, are edible whether cooked or uncooked. It is important to make sure though, that they have not yet spoiled.
Can I Keep My Summer Sausages Out Of The Refrigerator For Long?
Summer sausages remain good for a long time even without refrigeration. However, it is wise to avoid exposing them to hot temperatures.
How Can I Tell My Summer Sausages Have Gone Bad?
If the summer sausages are slippery in texture, have a terrible odor, have mold on them, have turned white in appearance, or they taste bad, they are spoilt. It’s advisable to throw them away.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.