Saturday, December 3, 2011

How To Smoke a Sausage - Swigart Sister Style

Background: My mom (Prissy - AKA Priscilla Kirschner) has three sisters Margie Wortz(Kansas), Charlie Wohlever (Ohio), and Becky Myers (Maryland). They are collective known as the Swigart Sisters in my blogs, but also refer to themselves as the PKs (preacher's kids). Yes, the Papa in THIS story is MY grandfather, a Lutheran minister.

Below is my Aunt Charlie's description of the sausage-making get together after she had been asked to consider doing it again. Thus proving my problems are hereditary. Also, AC's account makes it sound like this only happened once, but I could sworn it happened multiple times. Am I remembering the same event over and over again? Was it that traumatic? It also appears that the Myers and Wortz contigent weren't there? But I distinctly remember eating this stuff with them? I guess 300 pounds of sausage would last for multiple family reunions, though.

...The only difference is the amount of spices you want, mainly cayenne. By the way,I misspelled cayenne and the computer didn't know how to spell it either.

Of course we'd have to build another smokehouse [Mike (Wohlever)].

I have a VERY BASIC recipe,and you add whatever as you go along. It was Mama's job to stop us ever so often, take some of the mix, make a little patty, fry it up, and then tell us what to add. We dare not put too much of anything in at any time, 'cause you can't take it out!

We used 300# of coarsely ground pork shoulder in a brand new, never been used washtub from the hardware store and mixed it with our hands in brand new never been used super duper rubber gloves. Mark (Kirschner) was making obscene comments about the sounds we were making.

Then, of course, there were other opportunities for casual joking, such as during the filling of the casings by Papa, one hand on the crank and his other holding on to the ever increasing length of the sausage.

Prissy can vouch for me how much fun we had taking shifts in the bitter cold at the smoke pipe and small fire next to us,taking off our gloves in the below freezing weather to test the amount of heat going from the fire and up the pipe to the hanging sausages. [I don't know who hung them way up there, but you can be sure it wasn't Papa. Wohlever probably made Kirschner do it because,after all, he[Wohlever]had built the darn smokehouse!]

We girls, as I was saying, put our freezing little hands on the pipe. If it felt TOO cool [you do need cool smoke for the process] you plied your fingers from the cold pipe [ever lick a flag pole in the winter?] and added kindling to the fire till it was just warm enough. The next time you checked it [maybe 10 min later and after you had just thawed out that hand] the temperaturemight be too HOT, evidenced by the third degree burns on you hand, so you throw a little snow on the fire to bring down the temperature....of the pipe and your hand.

This routine goes on for about 8 hours/day for almost a week, till somebody, probably Papa, says it's time to bring them in and hang them in the garage for a while where they alternately freeze and thaw as part of the cursing process. I mean curing process.

The person actually doing that, probably Kirschner, because, after all, Wohlever BUILT the darn thing, had to make sure that they were spaced just so far apart in order to facilitate the best curing. Then the women, of course, after Kirschner had taken them all down following King Papa's declaration that 'All things are now ready" to wrap and freeze each sausage and salami, did just that.

A few of the precious sausages were left out,cooked with potatoes and devoured..All in all, it was a great week, blizzard and all, and I'd give anything to be able to do it again. I think though, that this time the boys get pipe attending duty. After all, they're retired. Love you all, C.

1 comment:

  1. It did happen just that once, but we were eating sausage for so long after that. I can still remember the bittersweet moment of eating The Last Sausage. The smokehouse and fire apparatus remained in the backyard for many years, though. I have a snapshot of Rebecca and Adam standing on it when Adam was a preschooler. I also remember having to explain to my friends (or maybe just to Rachel's friends) that the building next to the barn was a smokehouse. Great conversation starter when you're seventeen.

    The only thing that's missing from the blog post is the question that started all of this, from one auntie to another. Something about the difference between sausages and salamis, length and circumference. I wish I were making this up.

    Keep on archiving the family history, Anna. It is very important work, and someone has to do it!