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Germans from Russia - Manitoba Farmer Sausage

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Percebes View Drop Down
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    Posted: 29 October 2014 at 11:47
(Note: the recipe for this sausage can be found on the second page of this thread!)

From the Winnipeg Free Press:

Singing praises of farmer's sausage Monday, 31 December 2007 By Bill Redekop ALTONA

-- All things have an end, goes an old German proverb. Except wurst. It has two ends. Badabing! Even so, there seems no end to the farmer's sausage and farmer's sausage makers in Manitoba. Manitoba is the centre of the universe for the Mennonite-origin food. A recent foray into the Pembina Valley found no fewer than six different brands of the stuff on grocery shelves. There are at least another half dozen brands in Winnipeg and the rest of southern Manitoba. Yet farmer's sausage remains little more than a specialty food outside Mennonite circles. "I love the stuff!" says Miriam Toews, whose award-winning novel, A Complicated Kindness, satirized life in a southern Manitoba Mennonite town. But Toews doesn't know why farmer's sausage hasn't come out of the closet into the mainstream diet either. "I've always wondered why kolbasa gets all the love and our humble little Mennonite meat gets bupkas," she said in an email exchange. "Maybe it's the name... Farmer sausage. Not sexy!! ... Farmer sausage sounds like maybe it's made out of farmers." Pioneer Meats, just outside Altona, has been making virtually nothing but farmer's sausage for 40 years. It produces about one million pounds a year for sale within Manitoba. "It's us low-key Mennonites," Scott Penner, president of Pioneer Meats, said of farmer's sausage's relative anonymity. "We wait for someone else to sex it up." Well, how would you 'sex it up'? It's as straight-forward a food as there is. It's ground pork with a little salt and a little pepper, and smoked. That's very Mennonite. Going back in the religion's history, any strong spices were forbidden. Farmer's sausage is lean. Pioneer's brand contains just 17 per cent fat.

Neither is there filler like flour or wheat crumbs that you find in many sausages. To prepare, you either fry it or boil it. For the latter, perforate a farmer's sausage ring with a fork, boil it for three to four minutes, then let stand in the water for another six minutes. Little blobs of fat leak out the fork holes like a running nose. Scrape that off. Tourists have been known to pick up old suitcases from a thrift store and stuff them full of Manitoba-made farmer's sausage like it was contraband, before returning home, said Penner. "We have people who come by and load up anywhere from 500 to 2,000 pounds of farmer's sausage," said Penner. Someone from Leamington, Ont., picked up 2,000 pounds. There are many requests, too. "Every week we get requests from places like Utah, Washington D.C., British Columbia, Nova Scotia," he said. "Someone called from Chicago who has a friend with restaurants and they wanted to put it on the menu." But Pioneer Meats has only provincial status, so it can't sell outside Manitoba's borders. To become federally inspected, it would have to build a larger building, which is a possibility in the future, Penner said. Eleanor Chornoboy, who has written books Faspa -- A Snack of Mennonite Stories, and Snow Angels, has converted some people to farmer's sausage, too. "I have a girlfriend who lives outside San Diego and if I don't bring her farmer's sausage when I visit, she gets very angry," she said. Farmer's sausage only really started to hit the Winnipeg supermarket chains in the 1980s. Penner Foods, the independent chain founded by the late Jim Penner that was eventually bought up by Sobey's, put Pioneer Meats "on the map," said Pioneer founder Bernie Penner, Scott's father. After the Penner store on Henderson Highway stocked farmer's sausage in 1981, other supermarket chains followed within two to four years, said Bernie. Farmer's sausage has spread beyond just being a Mennonite dish, said Scott Penner. "It's a good seller in Gimli and there aren't too many Mennonites up there. It sells in Thompson, Flin Flon, Lynn Lake."   Some restaurants serve it, too, but you pretty much have to travel
through rural Manitoba. Bubba's Cafe in Carman, M.J.'s Kafe in Steinbach, Wilson's Grill in Morris and often the Chicken Chef in Winkler are some places that serve fried farmer's sausage. Even Mennonite communities like the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario don't seem to have a local farmer's sausage maker. Saskatchewan and Alberta have some local brands, and there are brands made out of Abbotsford, B.C., and in some Mennonite communities in the United States. But it's nothing compared to Manitoba. The farmer's sausage name is derived from when Mennonite farmers would make the sausage after slaughtering a pig on their farm. Pioneer Meats, with 13 staff, makes a variety of farmer's sausages including double smoked, or with 33 per cent less salt, or a pork and beef mix. It also make farmer's sausage into hamburger patties and hotdogs for barbequing



In those early magical days of taking my first incipient steps towards becoming a sausage maker, I started dating a Mennonite girl.
This was in the mid 70's long before the easy access to information that the internet now provides us.
I was determined to learn how to make this delicacy that I was raised on.
Years later I married that girl and was no closer to the inner sanctum of this closely guarded secret.

Thirty years after first meeting her, I finally got a commitment from my then MIL to bring the recipe to me after she attended a family reunion back in the small Mennonite town that she was raised in back in Manitoba.
This was the moment of truth. I drove 6 hours to her home in Creston BC just to get the recipe.
She looked so proud as the recipe had been difficult to obtain.
She passed me a recipe card and on it was written.

Pork
Salt
Pepper

I lost it in a fit of hysterical laughter.
Are you kidding me?
No-She beamed-This is the recipe
I have since figured it out on my own.

Patience is not always a virtue.
I am a wine enthusiast. The more wine I drink, the more enthusiastic I become.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2014 at 13:50
Sounds like a great sausage.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2014 at 14:04
Certainly is unique.
Sold raw- heavily smoked. What is not mentioned is the very unique flavor that has a pronounced tang.
This is from the fermentation before smoking. Something most recipes omit.
Most Mennonites I know eat it raw.
Small bowl of vinegar and chopped onions.
Break off a 3" chunk and dip it into the vinegar
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2014 at 17:42
You said Penner's was bought out by Sobey's. I have a Sobey's close by. Do you think they may have it in stock?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 October 2014 at 18:22
Originally posted by AK1 AK1 wrote:

You said Penner's was bought out by Sobey's. I have a Sobey's close by. Do you think they may have it in stock?


The article mentioned that Sobey's bought Penner's, but unless something has changed I don't believe that Pioneer ships beyond the Manitoba border.
But there are other popular players.
Winkler's Farmers Sausage is perhaps the best known and is certainly available in Alberta, so maybe you can find it.
Not the benchmark for a true Farmer Sausage, but should be available in Ont.

http://www.winklermeats.ca/where-to-buy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 October 2014 at 16:38
Since you've piqued my interest;

Does this sound about right? 24lbs ground pork, 7Tbsp salt, 3Tbsp pepper, 1 
Tbsp curing salt.

Would this get me in the ballpark?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 October 2014 at 17:14
I don't like what I am seeing.
Here is why I don't like it.
It is too low in cure and too low in salt
There isn't sufficient sugar inherent for a good fermentation and the Pepper is just plain upsetting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 October 2014 at 02:10
Originally posted by Percebes Percebes wrote:

I don't like what I am seeing.
Here is why I don't like it.
It is too low in cure and too low in salt
There isn't sufficient sugar inherent for a good fermentation and the Pepper is just plain upsetting.

Agreed...you need 1 level tsp of cure #1 for each 5 lbmeat.
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 November 2014 at 19:23
You guy's are really confusing me. 

I like sausage, and this thing has got me interested. But, the first recipe is pork, salt, pepper. Now, I'm seeing recipes with cure as well, and others with aditional ingredients. And I see it can be cold smoked, or hot smoked. 
I have no clue what this is supposed to taste like. Help!!!!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 November 2014 at 10:39
I feel guilty for the confusion.
The original recipe is quite old and does not comply with modern food safety standards.
What is never mentioned is that due to a lack of refrigeration at the time, the recipe of Pork, Salt and Pepper likely sat out for a few days and started fermentation.
This results in a relatively tame sausage but with a very unique tang similar to what would occur in a summer sausage.

This sausage needs to be cold smoked.
The recipes that are showing cure are just trying to be compliant with modern understanding of the food safety risks associated with smoking meats without a suitable cure.


In the spirit of the original intent of the sausage you sound like you would like to keep it simple. I applaud this , but would never recommend smoking sausage without a cure.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 November 2014 at 12:36
The inconsistencies in the available recipes has been perplexing to me, so I did a little sleuthing.

In her book "Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia Volume 1", author Norma Jost Voth( Good Books-1990) relates that pork was the mainstay meat of the Mennonites in South Russia in the 1870's.
They knew little about Beef until they immigrated to North America in 1874.

This got me thinking about how I always felt that Farmers sausage always had a tangy quality that reminded me of Summer Sausage.
So I looked at the recipe in the above book and a interesting situation revealed itself.

Summer Sausage
Rintsworscht/ Reetjeworscht
Tina Friesen Klassen: Rintsworscht is sausage made with ground beef which is smoked and let hang a while. It is eaten raw with sliced onions and vinegar.

50 lbs beef
4 handsful salt
4 tsp black pepper
8 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 lbs brown sugar
2 ozs. saltpeter
2 1/2 lbs salt
Muslin Jockers*

* Homemade casings made by sewing pieces of unbleached muslin together to form a bag 4" x 16" to hold the meat.

Grind beef very fine. Season with salt, fresh black and white pepper. Stuff the meat mixture into muslin jockers and place on a flat surface.

Rub with a mixture of brown sugar, saltpeter and meat salt. Lay a board on top of the sausage to weigh it down.
Every two or three days, rub the sausage with more of the sugar and salt mixture until it is all used..
Smoke in a smokehouse for 1 1/2 hours. Brush with melted paraffin. Hang meat in a cool dry place until ready to use.

After reading this all it occurred to me that Farmer's sausage is a hybrid recipe that came about from the blending of two different cultures, two very different economic circumstances and two different types of meat.

The basic recipe is just Pork , Salt and Pepper, but then has been modified with the Beef Summer Sausage recipe practice of curing the stuffed product separately resulting in a unique fermented flavor.
This is speculation on my part, but it would splain a lot.:)



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 November 2014 at 20:11
Originally posted by Percebes Percebes wrote:

I feel guilty for the confusion.
The original recipe is quite old and does not comply with modern food safety standards.
What is never mentioned is that due to a lack of refrigeration at the time, the recipe of Pork, Salt and Pepper likely sat out for a few days and started fermentation.
This results in a relatively tame sausage but with a very unique tang similar to what would occur in a summer sausage.

This sausage needs to be cold smoked.
The recipes that are showing cure are just trying to be compliant with modern understanding of the food safety risks associated with smoking meats without a suitable cure.


In the spirit of the original intent of the sausage you sound like you would like to keep it simple. I applaud this , but would never recommend smoking sausage without a cure.
Don't feel bad; I don't have an issue with the procedure. I'm not too concerned with making the sausage without cure. What I'm trying to get is the taste. It's that baseline that I'm looking for. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 November 2014 at 21:51
I'm really diggin' this sausage. Thanks Murray!Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 November 2014 at 10:54

I am pleased that you liked it. You have motivated me to action.

I bought a new 11lb stuffer as well as a cold smoke device that is supposed to produce 10-12 hours of smoke on 100g of wood dust so I am twisting some up this next weekend.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 November 2014 at 09:40
Here is some of the commercial Farmers Sausage from a small town Southwest of Winnipeg.
Winkler Farmer Sausage

It was not near as smoky as I remember, so I let it dry a few hours and gave it a 8 hour cold smoke with some Oak
It is the 2 sticks on the left




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 November 2014 at 12:24
I've got another batch going as we speak. What I did this time is add some chopped mushrooms to the meat mix. They're in the garage smoking away. Once they have some smoke, I'll throw them in the oven at 170F to cook, then give them a quick chill in ice water.

Thanks Murray, you've made me an addict.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 March 2016 at 14:06
Mrs Percebes out to the quilt Guild for the day and I felt that this was a perfect crime of opportunity.

So I am making a version of the original that breaks tradition from the Mennonite recipe by using some strongly flavored spices.
I am also adding Fermento to assist in the Fermented flavor.
Will have to rest the batch in the fridge until Tuesday which is the next time I can get some Oak Dust for my Pro Q.

Will be super tangy by then.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 March 2016 at 07:03
   Interesting sounding sausage
Enjoy The Food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 March 2016 at 18:30
Day 3 of a Oak Cold Smoke - Usually start smoking at noon. Load again before bed and get about 7 hours smoke on a fill in my ProQ. Then I stack the racks in the sun at 7am and let dry and mature in the breeze. Overnight lows of -2C-Highs about 5C so perfect for this method.

Made Dave's Potato Pancakes the other day and saved a few-so supper will be Farmers Sausage-Potato Pancakes and Sour Cream
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 March 2016 at 19:11
Good grief, that looks beautiful!

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