Monday, April 6, 2009

Have Garden, Will Trade for Sausage

Last year I began trading some of the produce we grow in our kitchen garden here in the District of Columbia for venison a neighbor harvests on a family farm in Virginia. So far we had received two large packages of venison stew meat and some tenderloin. My last gift to them was a box full of pickles and preserves, a sampling of the many jars we had left over from the summer.

The neighbors said they were enjoying the pickles and hinted that more venison was on the way, this time in the form of some sausages. "It's being processed now," they said.

Then one night a figure appeared at the store carrying a strange looking load. I turned on the porch light and had a long, frozen package thrust in my direction. When I unwrapped it, this is what I found: two 20-inch long venison summer sausages, the biggest sausages I've ever seen.

Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much from this sausage. As you can see from the label, it was processed for private consumption only. There are big letters indicating "Not For Sale." I thought it would be dry and tasting of who knows what. But that just shows you how little I know about venison sausage. This summer sausage is some of the best stuff I've ever tasted, moist and meaty and--how to say this--barely distinguishable from the finest beef sausage.

That leaves just one question: what to do with two 20-inch long sausages?

I decided we should start eating some immediately, put some away in the freezer and share the rest with friends. So after the sausage defrosted, I cut it into portions. And began eating...I think I have a new favorite high-protein snack.

Meanwhile, the neighbors will be getting two fine tomato plants. We are growing them now and soon will be planting them in the garden. They'll be able to come by any time and pick what they like. Does that sound like a fair trade to you?


Kevin said...

Sounds fair to me. I've been wanting to make some venison sausage, I may to have to break down and order some.

Ed Bruske said...

Kevin, I would love to see you post a recipe for venison sausage. It's awfully good.

Bippy said...

I know in Texas I have some friends who give us Not For Sale venisin sausage because if you do private processing, you can follow less intrusive and expensive USDA guidelines- for instance, you don't have to have a seperate bathroom just for the USDA inspector, etc. It's not so much the safety part of the regulations as it is some of the expense and overhead.

I wouldn't be surprised if that was a federal, not state thing.

Ed Bruske said...

Bippy, I think it's pretty universal--states require that meat for resale be processed in USDA facilities. That's hurt local meat production in many areas, since local processors have been closing as the industry consolidates. The rules are less strict. And if you kill it yourself and plan to consume it yourself, the rules for processing are much more lax. In deer season, there's no problem finding a local butcher to dress out your venison and turn it into sausage.