Making Sausage with Math

The Math in Making SausageI’m into trying new things. And I’m always curious where I’ll find math in them. So I agreed to help process the deer my husband brought home from hunting.

We don’t have a sausage processor, though. So Husband went to a sausage making party at his cousin’s house.

We needed to get everything ready – venison cubes, pork cubes and spices. I decided to put them in “matching” bags so it would be easy for him.

Pounds and Pounds of Meat

The recipe called for 6 pounds of cubed venison and 4 pounds of cubed pork.

But our bags of cubed venison were anywhere from 4 to 7 pounds. And there were lots of 1/2’s  and 3/4’s in there, too.

After all, it’s our first time. We never thought to bag up sausage-makin’s the same!

I had two options.

  1. I could move the meat around until all but one bag was exactly 6 pounds. Then do the math to scale down the other bag.
  2. Or I could do some really fun math approximations. And by fun I mean… weird, strange, and not even close to being exact.

Guess which I picked…

It’s about ratios.

The ratio of venison to pork is 6 to 4. “Reducing” the fraction gives the ratio 3 to 2.

Going the other way gives 9 pounds venison to 6 pounds pork.

But I had 4 pounds, 7 pounds and all sorts of weird numbers in between!

Sausage making isn’t exact.

Recipes in general are merely suggestions of what and how much. I wanted to get close, but there was no reason to drag out pencil and paper to do the math.

If  3 pounds of venison needs 2 pounds of pork, then 1 pound venison needs 2/3 pounds pork. And since 2/3 is more than a half and less than a whole, I could “eyeball” this.

3 pounds venison + 1 pound venison NEEDS 2 pounds pork + 2/3 pounds pork


4 pounds venison NEEDS a little less than 3 pounds pork

The Math in Making Sausage

And I can use this approximation to do 7 pounds…

3 lbs venison + 4 lbs venison NEEDS 2 lbs pork + less than 3 lbs pork


7 pounds venison NEEDS a little less than 5 pounds pork

Time for the spices.

I lined up the spice bags according to their corresponding volumes of meat. The ones in the middle (with 6 pounds of venison and 4 pounds of pork) got the amount of spices the recipe called for.

Then I went up and down in spices according to how much the meat volume went up or down.

And… yum!

When I take out a handful of links for dinner, I can’t tell which mix it is.

But isn’t that the nature of sausage?

Have you ever made sausage? The next time you do, make sure you mention the math you’re doing to your kids!



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One Response to Making Sausage with Math

  1. Seems a bit overworked. Take the total amount of venison, add the appropriate amount of pork and seasonings, do your grinding and mixing then bag the finished product.

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