The Art of Homemade Dry Sausage: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Dry Sausage at Home: The Ultimate Guide

Making your own dry sausage at home can be a rewarding and fulfilling process. Not only does it provide a sense of accomplishment, but it also allows you to have complete control over the flavors and ingredients used. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of curing sausages at home, highlighting key considerations and techniques.

Understanding Dried Sausage

Before delving into the process of making dry sausage, it is important to have a clear understanding of what it is and how it is made. Generally, sausages refer to ground meat, salt, and spices stuffed into a casing. However, dry sausages are a special type of sausage that undergoes a curing and drying process.
Dry sausages are typically fermented and then dried to reduce their moisture content. This reduction in moisture helps to intensify the flavors and contributes to their unique texture. In addition, some dry sausages may be smoked prior to drying, adding even more complexity to the flavor profile. Examples of popular dry sausages include droë wors, salami, sucuk and smoked langjäger.

Key ingredients

Several key ingredients play a critical role in the production of dried sausage. Understanding these ingredients and their functions is essential for successful homemade sausage drying.


Traditionally, sausages have been wrapped in cleaned animal intestines. However, modern alternatives such as collagen, cellulose or plastic casings are readily available. Some sausages, particularly those pressed into logs, may not require casing at all. The choice of casing depends on personal preference and the desired result.


There are several options when selecting meat for dry sausage. Pork and beef are commonly used, but poultry, lamb and venison can also be used. The texture of the ground meat, whether coarse or smooth, will affect the final result of the sausage.


Incorporating fat into the meat mixture is essential for flavor, moisture and mouthfeel. Fat can be chopped or ground into a paste and is typically added as a percentage of the total meat weight. This percentage can vary depending on personal preference and the desired result.


Spices and herbs are an integral part of the flavor profile of cured meats. Ground spices and herbs are recommended to ensure a consistent and enjoyable eating experience. Different types of sausages may require specific spice combinations, adding depth and complexity to the final product.

Risks of drying cured meats at home

Drying cured meats at home carries certain risks, primarily related to the growth of harmful bacteria. It is important to understand and mitigate these risks to ensure the safety of the final product.

Bacterial growth

Bacteria need moisture, oxygen, a food source and appropriate temperatures to grow. The drying process is designed to create an inhospitable environment for bacterial growth by reducing moisture and limiting oxygen exposure. However, if proper care is not taken, harmful bacteria can proliferate and cause foodborne illness.

Pickling salts

Curing salts are used to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Pickling salts, such as sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, repel and kill bacteria, preventing spoilage. The choice of curing salt depends on the length of the drying process. Sodium nitrate is suitable for long-term drying, while sodium nitrite is preferred for shorter drying periods.

Starter Cultures

In addition to curing salts, starter cultures can be used to further inhibit bacterial growth. These cultures promote fermentation, which lowers the pH of the sausage, making it less hospitable to harmful bacteria. Starter cultures should be well distributed throughout the meat mixture before the drying process begins.

The process of making dried sausage

The process of making dried sausage involves several key steps, each of which contributes to the final result. While there are variations based on personal preference and recipe, the following steps outline the general process.

Step 1: Process and combine ingredients

Start by choosing the type of dry sausage you want to make. Whether you follow a recipe or create your own, the basic ingredients include ground meat, fat, seasonings, and other flavorings. Process the meat by either chopping it with a knife or grinding it with a meat grinder, depending on the desired texture. Fat may be added along with the meat, either chopped or ground, to ensure even distribution. Ground spices and herbs should be used to avoid biting into whole spices when eating.

Step 2: Stuffing Meat into Casings

Once the ingredients are well combined, it is time to stuff the meat mixture into casings. Choose the appropriate casing based on your preferences and the type of sausage you are making. Make sure the casings are properly soaked and rinsed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a sausage stuffer or pastry bag, fill the casings with the meat mixture, taking care to remove any air bubbles. Twist or tie the casings at regular intervals to form individual sausages.

Step 3: Curing and Fermentation

Once the sausages are stuffed, it is time to begin the curing and fermentation process. This step is critical for developing flavor and inhibiting bacterial growth. Apply the appropriate amount of curing salt to the sausages, making sure it is evenly distributed. Place the sausages in a controlled environment with the ideal temperature and humidity for fermentation. This environment promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria that contribute to flavor development.

Step 4: Drying the sausages

After curing and fermentation, the sausages are ready for drying. Hang the sausages in a well-ventilated area with controlled temperature and humidity. The drying process allows the sausages to gradually lose moisture. Monitor the weight loss of the sausages, aiming for a reduction of about 35%. This weight loss indicates that the sausages have reached the desired dryness.

Step 5: Equalization and Storage

Once the sausages have reached the desired dryness, they must go through an equalization period. This involves allowing the sausages to rest in a controlled environment to ensure that the moisture content is evenly distributed. Once equalized, the sausages can be stored in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or refrigerator. Properly stored, dry sausages can have a long shelf life, providing a delicious and convenient snack or ingredient for a variety of dishes.


Drying sausages at home is a rewarding and tasty process that allows you to control the ingredients and flavors of your sausages. By understanding the key steps and considerations, you can successfully create delicious cured sausages in your own kitchen. Remember to prioritize food safety measures by using curing salts, starter cultures, and maintaining proper drying conditions. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy the satisfaction of homemade dry sausages that rival those found in stores.


Can I use any type of meat to make dry sausage?

Yes, you can use a variety of meats such as pork, beef, poultry, lamb, or venison to make dry sausage. The choice of meat will affect the flavor and texture of the final product.

What is the purpose of curing salts in the drying process?

Curing salts, such as sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, serve several purposes in the curing process. They help prevent bacterial growth, enhance the flavor and color of the sausage, and contribute to its shelf life.

How long does it take to cure sausage at home?

Drying time can vary depending on factors such as the type and size of sausage and drying conditions. On average, it can take several weeks to a few months for the sausage to reach the desired dryness.

Can I dry sausage without using a starter culture?

While the use of a starter culture is recommended to promote fermentation and inhibit harmful bacteria, it is possible to dry sausage without it. However, the presence of a starter culture can help improve the flavor and safety of the final product.

How do I know if the sausage is dry enough?

The dryness of the sausage can be determined by monitoring its weight loss. A reduction of approximately 35% from the initial weight indicates that the sausage has reached the desired dryness. In addition, the sausage should feel firm and have a dry, non-sticky surface.

How should I store homemade dry sausages?

Once the sausages are dried and balanced, they can be stored in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or refrigerator. It is important to store them in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to preserve their quality and prevent moisture absorption. Properly stored dry sausages have a long shelf life.