Fat is essential to a good sausage. Fat lubricates the meat, acts as a binder and will make the sausage tender, juicy and flavorsome. Sausages that do not contain enough fat are typically dry and tasteless.
How much fat do I need?
Sausages should contain 25-30% fat. This may seem like a lot but many commercially made sausages contain 50% fat. So, you need 250-300g of fat per 1kg of sausage mix.
Like most things to do with sausages, it is not necessary for the ratio of fat to meat to be perfect. If you are buying meat scraps or don’t know what cut you have then estimating the fat ratio by the eye is generally sufficient. If it visually looks like the meat contains about 25-30% fat then roll with it and move on. Your fat can come from the cut of meat that you use, or you can add it separately.
If you are having to add fat, we recommend pork fat over beef fat if you have access to it. It is tastier and less yellow. We do not recommend fat from lamb, goat or wild game due to their odor unless specified in a particular ethnic sausage.
When it comes to sausage making, back fat is better than lower body fat. It is not greasy and has a lower water concentration which makes it thicker and more resistant to heat, which is perfect for sausages. Just a note – do not use lard (which is melted fat), for making sausages as the texture is not suitable.
Where do I get fat from?
If your meat does not contain enough fat and you need to buy additional fat you can generally buy if from your local butcher. You can freeze fat trimmings for use at a later date.
A bit of lingo: the term ‘lean’ is often used to represent the meat content eg if a cut of meat is 80-85% lean then this means it contains 80-85% meat and 15-20% fat.
How to calculate how much fat I need:
Assume your total sausage recipe is 2kg and 1.6kg of meat & fat combined. You want your sausage to have 25% fat. To work out how much fat you need:
1. Divide your desired fat content by 100. In this example I want 25% total fat content. Calculation = 25 / 100 = 0.25
2. Multiply your total sausage mix in KG by 0.25. eg 2 * 0.25 = 0.5kg of fat required (or 500g)
3. Visually estimate how much fat is in your meat. Lets assume it has 15%. Divide this by 100. 15 / 100 = 0.15.
4. Multiply total weight of meat & fat required in recipe (1.6kg) by the 0.15 calculated in step 3. 1.6 x 0.15 = 0.24. This means your meat has 0.24kg or 240g of fat in it.
5. Calculate how much additional fat you need. You want 500g of fat total (step 2). Your meat has 240g (step 4). Additional fat still required = 500 - 240 = 260g
|Whole animal||10-15%||Whole animal||20%|
|Belly||50%||Flap / Belly||29%|
|Brisket - point end||9.5%|
|Brisket - navel end||31%||Chicken:|
|Eye Round||5%||Whole animal||14%|
|Flank||9%||Thigh - skin on||20%|
|Bolar blade||8%||Thigh - skin off||45%|