News from the Farm: Return of Winter & Extraordinary Sausage
Dear friends and customers of North Mountain Pastures, Welcome to real winter! It is really cold now. Temperatures dropping as I write this, expected to be subzero tonight. We do what we can to keep our livestock fed and comfortable, which means lots of bedding. Farm animals can typically handle cold temperatures well as long as they are dry and can get out of the wind. Of course birthing babies is a special situation, and additional heat is often needed for them in the dead of winter. Brooks is currently working to ready the shipping container turned farrowing house for the sows (pig moms) who will be giving birth soon.
We're excited to share our newest sausage with you. No, not a new variety, but a new meat processor (aka butcher). We've been using Smucker's Meats in Mount Joy for the past few years. While we are grateful that they are willing to make our custom recipes with organic spices that we special order for them, we've always been less than thrilled with the synthetic casings. These collagen casings are all natural, as in made from natural collagen without artificial ingredients. They are strong and uniform, making them ideal for hydraulic automated sausage stuffers.
Before this, we had a smaller butcher shop that used natural hog casings. These are literally cleaned hog intestines. They are the traditional, old fashioned way of stuffing sausage, and they work really well when making sausage by hand. There are minute imperfections and inconsistencies in the casings that make it more likely to break at certain spots. This can generally be prevented when stuffing sausage by hand or with different types of commercial equipment. This is how we always made sausage on the farm, and what we used when we first got into making sausage and creating sausage recipes back in 2009.
We are currently experimenting with some new butcher shops to try to recreate the traditional sausage that we far prefer. It has been a compromise for us to sell the collagen casing sausage. We have always been proud of the sausage that we make, it's kind of our thing. When we raise the pork from farrow to finish on pasture fed only nonGMO local grain, with only himalayan sea salt and organic seasoning, we know it is good stuff. Special even, really different than what you can get anywhere else. Because of this, we are super excited to return to the natural hog casings for the highest quality sausage.
In our view, sausage stuffed in hog casings has far better browning, less splitting, better mouth feel, and overall cooks better on the grill or in the pan.
This is my favorite thing we've cooked with sausage lately:
It was a simple pasta dish with sautéed sweet Italian sausage, mushrooms, broccoli, butter, and romano cheese. Everyone in our house loved it (which is not always the case with kids and mixed dishes that include vegetables!)
If you get sausage in your CSA share this month from Rising Spring butcher shop (it will have a different label and be slightly fatter), let us know what you think!
Thanks as always for supporting local foods, and stay warm and well,
~Brooks and Anna
p.s. Have to share this amazing sunset on the farm last night: