Mom Tours Sausage Factory & Is Shocked by What She Saw (PHOTOS)

Adriana Velez | Sep 14, 2012 Food & Party

bundle of cotechinoMost people say they don't want to know what goes in the sausage. But I've always wanted to know! So when I got the chance to tour a sausage factory, I jumped at it. A friend of mine works at Creminelli Fine Meats, a traditional Italian sausage and meat producer smack in the middle of Utah. Christiano Creminelli moved his family's generations-old family business from the Piedmont region to Utah in 2007, and the rest is delicious history. This is special sausage -- the kind you treat yourself and your loved ones to around the holidays.

I wasn't sure what to expect when we went on our tour. My son was allowed to join us, so I figured it would at least be safe. Would there be squealing pigs and giant mixers? Hardly. Here are a few surprising things I learned about sausage.

  • Suiting Up

    1

    Adriana Velez

    Before stepping foot anywhere, we put on white coats, hair nets, and little booties over our shoes. Safety first!

  • There's Sausage and Then There's Salami

    2

    Adriana Velez

    Cerminelli makes salami -- Italian aged sausage. It's got a more intense, concentrated flavor than, say, the Hickory Farms sausage we're more familiar with. It's also smaller, denser, and it's got that white stuff on the outside. More about that white stuff later.

  • Not Mystery Meat

    3

    Creminelli

    Creminelli uses meat from Berkshire and Berkshire-Doroc pigs. Their pork is pasture-raised without antibiotics or hormones. And here's the surprising thing: I thought sausage was usually made from parts we didn't want to know about. But for artisan Italian sausage, anyway, it's actually the leg, shoulder, and neck whole-muscle meat.

  • Tied by Hand

    4

    Creminelli

    I kind of feel like I shouldn't even call this operation a "factory" because there really wasn't a lot of big machinery. They make the sausages one batch at a time, grinding up the meat in just one grinder, feeding the sausage into beef casings, and tying everything by hand. 

  • Mold Is Good

    5

    Creminelli

    Well, it depends. To make aged sausage, you hang the links in racks under special conditions. All kinds of funky bacteria collect on the outside and the sausage shrinks, losing about 40 percent of its mass! "Good" mold forms on the outside, which flavors the sausage inside. That's the white stuff you saw in the previous picture. You peel off that layer before eating the sausage. I once sent my brother some aged Italian sausage like this for Christmas and he told me he threw it away because it had "gone moldy." SIGH. 

  • Eating Fat

    6

    Adriana Velez

    At the end we got to taste several of their meats! Yum, the best part of the tour. One of my new favorites is called lardo (the white slices in the photo). It's just cured neck fat! It's almost like butter in texture and it tastes amazing. I never thought I'd be excited to eat fat.

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