Summer sausage is a delicious and versatile meat that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether you’re snacking on it straight out of the package or using it as a topping for your favorite pizza, summer sausage is a crowd-pleaser.
But when it comes to storing this tasty treat, there seems to be some confusion. Should you refrigerate it or not? And what about Hillshire Farms summer sausage specifically?
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of summer sausage storage and answer the burning question: does Hillshire Farms summer sausage need to be refrigerated?
Does Hillshire Farms Summer Sausage Need To Be Refrigerated?
The short answer is yes, Hillshire Farms summer sausage should be refrigerated. While it’s true that summer sausage traditionally did not require refrigeration, modern manufacturing processes have changed that.
According to the Hillshire Farms website, their summer sausage should be kept refrigerated after opening. This is because hot temperatures can cause the fat in the sausage to go rancid, which can give it an unpleasant taste. While it may still be safe to eat, it won’t be as enjoyable.
It’s also worth noting that while unopened summer sausage can technically be stored at room temperature for a few months, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and keep it in the fridge. This will help prolong its shelf life and ensure that it stays fresh and tasty.
What Is Summer Sausage?
Summer sausage is a type of sausage that is traditionally made from a mixture of pork, but can also contain beef or venison. It is fermented, and can be dried or smoked, which gives it a tangy flavor. The fermentation process lowers the pH of the sausage, which slows bacterial growth and gives it a longer shelf life. This is why summer sausage was historically popular as a gift during the winter holidays, especially in German-American settler communities.
The sausage is typically made by combining lean beef, pork, pork fat or fatty pork trimmings with additives such as salt, nitrite, and spices like black and white pepper, mustard seed, nutmeg, garlic, coriander, and allspice. Fast-acting starter cultures are also introduced to help with the fermentation process. The sausage mass is then filled into fibrous casings and fermented at high temperatures of 30–40°C. The pH drops quickly as a result, and the final pH obtained is usually around 4.5.
After fermentation and smoking, the salami is heated to around 60–65°C in the core at low RH levels (around 40–50%). The product is then dried further until the desired weight loss has occurred. The finished product has a diameter of around 3-4mm and a fat content of around 30%.
While summer sausage traditionally did not require refrigeration until opened due to its curing process, modern manufacturing processes have changed this. It’s always best to refrigerate summer sausage after opening to ensure that it stays fresh and enjoyable to eat.
How Is Summer Sausage Made?
Summer sausage is a type of dry cured sausage that is typically made from a combination of beef and pork, or sometimes beef alone. The meat is ground fairly fine through a 3/16″ (4.5mm) plate, and then mixed with curing salts such as InstaCure No. 1 to cure the meat. The curing process can take several days, during which time the meat should be kept refrigerated and remixed at least once a day to ensure a full and proper cure.
Once the meat has been cured, it is mixed with spices and flavorings according to the recipe being used. A meat mixer can be used to make this process easy and convenient. The mixture is then stuffed into casings, which can be natural, synthetic, or fibrous.
The sausage is then smoked in a meat smoker or smokehouse at gradually increasing temperatures until the internal temperature of the sausage reaches 155F. After smoking, the sausages are rinsed in cold water to chill them and stop the cooking process. They are then dried and ready to be eaten or stored.
While traditional summer sausage did not require refrigeration, modern manufacturing processes have changed that. Hillshire Farms, for example, recommends that their summer sausage be kept refrigerated after opening to ensure its freshness and taste. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and keep summer sausage in the fridge to prolong its shelf life and ensure its quality.
Why Is Refrigeration Important For Meat Products?
Refrigeration is crucial for maintaining the safety and quality of meat products. Meat can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause foodborne illnesses and spoilage. By refrigerating meat at an optimum temperature, we can inhibit the growth and spread of bacteria on the meat we eat. In addition, refrigeration slows down the metabolism of organic matter to a near standstill, preventing possible health problems after consumption.
For meat products such as Hillshire Farms summer sausage, refrigeration is especially important. Hot temperatures can cause the fat in the sausage to go rancid, which can give it an unpleasant taste. By keeping it refrigerated, we can prolong its shelf life and ensure that it stays fresh and enjoyable.
It’s important to note that different types of meat products may require different storage temperatures. In general, a refrigerator set at 40°F or below will protect most foods. Raw meat, poultry or seafood should be stored in a sealed container or securely wrapped up to prevent any raw juices from contaminating other foods or products.
How Long Can Hillshire Farms Summer Sausage Be Stored Without Refrigeration?
While it’s not recommended to store Hillshire Farms summer sausage without refrigeration, it can technically be done for a short period of time. According to the information available, summer sausage that is unopened and stored in a cool, dry place can last for up to 6 weeks. However, it’s important to note that this is not the same as room temperature. The USDA recommends storing summer sausage in the refrigerator to ensure that it stays fresh and safe to eat.
Once opened, Hillshire Farms summer sausage should be consumed within 1 month if it’s been refrigerated. If it hasn’t been refrigerated, it should be consumed within 1-4 days. This is because bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature, which can lead to foodborne illness.
To extend the shelf life of Hillshire Farms summer sausage, it’s best to store opened or unopened packages in the freezer. This will help preserve the flavor and texture of the sausage for a longer period of time. However, it’s important to note that freezing and thawing can affect the texture of the sausage, so it may not be as enjoyable as fresh sausage.
Tips For Storing And Enjoying Summer Sausage Safely.
If you want to store and enjoy your Hillshire Farms summer sausage safely, there are a few tips that you should keep in mind. Here are some recommendations:
1. Refrigerate after opening: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to refrigerate your summer sausage after opening it. This will help prevent spoilage and ensure that it stays fresh for as long as possible.
2. Use proper storage containers: When storing your summer sausage, make sure to use proper storage containers. You can use plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or resealable bags to keep the sausage fresh and prevent it from drying out.
3. Label and date your sausage: To avoid confusion and ensure that you’re consuming fresh sausage, label and date your storage containers. This will help you keep track of how long the sausage has been stored and when it’s time to consume or discard it.
4. Freeze for long-term storage: If you want to store your summer sausage for longer than a few weeks, consider freezing it. To freeze summer sausage, wrap it tightly in freezer paper or aluminum foil, label it with the date, and store it in the freezer for up to 10 months.
5. Thaw properly: If you do decide to freeze your summer sausage, make sure to thaw it properly before consuming. You can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours. Avoid thawing in hot water or the microwave, as this can cause uneven cooking and affect the texture of the sausage.
By following these tips, you can store and enjoy your Hillshire Farms summer sausage safely and deliciously. Remember to always check the expiration date and follow any storage instructions on the packaging for best results.