Making homemade summer sausage can be an incredibly satisfying experience. You get to choose the type of meat and seasonings that fit your taste. The only way it gets any better is by adding cheese to summer sausage.
Sausages and cheese pair well together in a meal, so why not mix them to enhance the meat’s rich flavor? But if you’ve never done it before, you might not be sure where to begin.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to add cheese to summer sausage and which cheeses are the best choice.
What Kind of Cheese Do You Put in Summer Sausage?
Deciding that you want cheese in your summer sausage is easy. However, selecting the variety of cheese could be a more challenging decision.
You could argue that it’s OK to use the cheese you usually like to eat with sausage, but should that be the only criteria? That depends on who you ask.
Commercial sausage makers often blend all kinds of cheeses with different meats and seasonings to provide variety in their sausages.
If you’re a summer sausage enthusiast, it’s ultimately up to you. Generally, sticking to harder cheeses with less fat percentage is a more convenient option, as the cheese won’t melt as fast.
Do I Need a High Temp Cheese for Summer Sausage?
When it comes to adding cheese to summer sausage, the question of high temp cheese arises. High-temp, or high-temperature cheese, is meant to be mixed with meat products.
High temp cheeses are usually labeled as such and sold in chunks which you can immediately mix with the sausage meat.
A high temp cheese will hold its consistency under heat, won’t change shape, and essentially won’t melt.
They’re sometimes called “grilling cheeses” as they will hold up their shape even if you place them directly on the grill.
Still, several specific types of high temp cheeses are an excellent option for summer sausage.
When we think about cheddar cheese, we usually evoke the distinct color and flavor that goes so well with all sorts of food.
But did you know that cheddar is one of only a few types of cheeses that comes in mild, sharp, and extra-sharp varieties?
This gradation represents how the flavor changes as the cheese ages. Sharp cheddar cheese is between three and six months old. For summer sausage making, this is one of the best options.
With Provolone, the key is to stick to harder, high-quality pieces (deli versions if possible). Provolone is an Italian semi-hard cheese that takes a range of shapes and sizes.
It has salty undertones and hints of nuts, and an overall smooth flavor. It pairs really well with summer sausage, especially if you’re making it with pork.
This semi-hard cheese originates from Cyprus and is made from goat and sheep milk.
What makes halloumi unique is that it has an incredibly high melting point, making it a phenomenal grilling cheese and a perfect homemade summer sausage option.
It’s not the cheapest of cheeses, but if you’re making a smaller summer sausage batch, you might decide to splurge.
Pepper Jack Cheese
As a derivative of Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack is a spicy, American cheese.
It’s a semi-soft variant with a memorable flavor. If you want to make a spicy batch of summer sausages, Pepper Jack is an excellent option.
It’s a high-temp cheese with a lot of kick with habanero chilies, garlic, rosemary, and sweet peppers in the mix.
But just when you might think the flavor will overwhelm you, it ends with a soft buttery taste.
Can You Use Regular Cheese in Summer Sausage?
The issue with high-temp cheese is that it’s sometimes too expensive or not readily available everywhere.
The manufacturers sell them in convenient packages, so sausage making is quicker, but that might not be what you’re looking for.
Perhaps the cheese you have at home has a low melting point, and you’re unsure whether to use it in your summer sausage.
Low-temp cheeses are often referred to as regular cheeses as well.
Regular cheeses with high moisture levels are not the best option for summer sausage, but many people have successfully used them.
Swiss cheese fits into this category, as well as Cheshire cheese and mozzarella. Some cheeses such as brie, for example, are too soft and wouldn’t be the best choice for summer sausage.
How Much Cheese Do You Put in Summer Sausage?
You might find yourself with all the necessary ingredients for summer sausage, including the cheese of your choice, but how much do you use?
Unlike some ingredients, such as curing salt, where the amounts should be very accurate, you can experiment with the amount of cheese you use.
Granted, adding too little cheese won’t affect the flavor, and adding too much will overwhelm it.
I recommend using 1 lb. of cheese per 10-12 lbs. of meat. This tends to be the perfect balance of flavor and texture. Roughly, the cheese shouldn’t exceed 10% of the meat’s weight by much.
How to Put Cheese in Summer Sausage
If you’ve bought pre-packaged high-temp cheese, then all you have to do is mix the cheese chunks with the meat.
Make sure to grind the meat first. If the cheese isn’t sliced, then you should first make little cubes of cheese.
Mix the cheese and other ingredients by hand to achieve equal distribution.
To make this process even easier, you can refrigerate or even freeze the cheese cubes before adding them to the meat mixture. This way, they will preserve their shape longer, and mixing them with meat will go smoothly.
Adding cheese to summer sausage is as straightforward as it gets. The only hurdle to get over is to choose the right cheese. Should you go with regular cheese or high temp-cheese?
While it ultimately might not matter, if all you care about is the taste, high-temp cheese will hold up better during the cooking process.
In general, it’s best to avoid cheeses with too much moisture and stick with dry and semi-hard cheeses. Pepper Jack, sharp cheddar, halloumi, Provolone, or something entirely different, that’s up to you.