Author: Desch, Melanie

Can I make my own Sausage?

UConn EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) answers this common question and more.

Three grilled sausages

In its most basic form, sausage is minced meat with salt and other seasoning.  It may or may not be stuffed into casings, can be made as a raw or cooked product and comes in all sizes and shapes.  In many cultures there are strong cultural traditions around the manufacture and consumption of sausages.  Sausage-making need not be a mystery; it is easily made in the home kitchen.

  • What meat is used to make sausage? Any meat can be used to make sausage.  Pork may be the most common source of meat for homemade products but beef, chicken, lamb, veal, duck and venison are also common.
  • Do I need special equipment to make sausage? Not necessarily.  The simplest approach is to buy ground pork and mix with salt and seasonings following a recipe.  The one piece of equipment that is very beneficial is an accurate kitchen scale.  If large quantities of meat are available to the consumer then a home meat grinder will be helpful.  Preparing sausage in a casing requires a stuffing tube attachment for a grinder or a separate sausage stuffer.
  • I am a hunter. Can game meat be used to make sausage?  Yes, game meat is commonly used as a meat source for sausage.  One important point is that the fat present on game meat tends to carry flavor that some folks find objectionable (i.e., gamey flavor).   Fat is an important component of many sausages and prevents the meat from drying out when cooked.  Game sausage benefits from the removal of natural fat with substitution of pork or beef fat (added to achieve 15% to 20% of total meat weight).  Venison meat with added pork fat makes very good sausage.
  • How do I know how much salt or seasoning to add? Similar to other prepared foods, sausage requires the use of a recipe which should be followed.  Doubling the amount of a given spice because it’s a favorite can lead to inedible products!  Recipes are commonly available online and in many cookbooks.  An alternative approach is to purchase a commercially prepared seasoning blend for a given type of sausage.   These are usually prepared for a specific quantity of meat but can be added proportionally to lesser meat amounts.
  • Can I smoke my sausage? Some grills have smoker attachments and there is a large variety of meat smokers available for purchase.  Smoke-cooking of meat requires some trial-and-error and a reliable meat thermometer is essential for a successful and safe outcome.  Hardwood sawdust/chips are available and common sources for smoking sausages are hickory and apple.
  • How do I store sausage once made? Sausage that will be consumed within 3 to 4 days can be kept refrigerated.  Otherwise it is best to freeze the meat.  In either case, it is very important to wrap the sausage in a manner that prevents moisture loss and minimizes transfer of air into the product space.  Vacuum-packagers have become more common among consumers and help preserve quality of frozen products for longer periods of time.

Extension Specialist

Cameron Faustman

Professor Emeritus, Animal Science

Husky Harvest Info Session- Regional Campus Food Pantry

Informational booth


SNAP-Ed Food Security recently teamed up with United Way to offer a info session for Stamford campus students and Husky Harvest clients.  Husky Harvest is the name for the new regional campus food pantry program. Food insecurity is rising on many college campuses and Husky Harvest strives to provide students with resources while minimizing the stigma associated with food pantries.  Read more about Husky Harvest from UConn Today.






Students gather to learn more about the program

UConn Educator taking a selfie in front of the educational booth

Job Opening: Fairfield County Master Gardener Coordinator

Position Description

UConn Extension Master Gardener Coordinator

Lower Fairfield County

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is seeking applications for the position of Master Gardener Program Coordinator for Lower Fairfield County, based at the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford, CT. This is a 16-hour-per-week position and is a temporary, six month appointment.

Renewal is optional pending coordinator review and availability of program funding.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to: provide leadership for the Master Gardener Program in southern Fairfield County. Successful candidate will coordinate staffing of program mentors, volunteers and interns; work with UConn Extension center/county based faculty and staff, as well as university based faculty and staff as needed. Will also need to work with allied community groups and Extension partners such as the CT Master Gardener Association; train and supervise interns when classroom teaching is completed; arrange for and conduct Advanced Master Gardener classes each year; develop and coordinate outreach programs and projects with community organizations in southern Fairfield County, including the Bartlett Arboretum. They will prepare annual reports on program activities, impacts, incomes, outcomes (number of clientele contacts); and communicate effectively with the state coordinator, other county coordinators, and the Bartlett Arboretum staff. Monthly reports shall be communicated to the state coordinator and topical information may be shared with others as requested.

Preference will be given to candidates who are Certified Master Gardeners, or with a degree in horticulture, botany, biology or equivalent experience. Interested applicants should possess strong organizational, communication and interpersonal skills and be able to show initiative. They should be able to demonstrate experience in working collaboratively as well as independently, and be willing to work flexible hours including some evenings and weekends. Must be familiar with Microsoft Office and familiar with the online class experience.

Volunteer experience is desired.

Submit letter of application, resume and names of three references to:
Sarah Bailey, State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator at
Please put Master Gardener Coordinator Position in the subject line.

Screening will begin immediately.

Keep Your Food Safe & Fresh: Simple Canning & Preservation Tips

Are you looking for a way to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer? Do you want to extend the shelf life of summer and fall foods from your garden?  The webinar hosted in late September is now available for viewing online! Follow the link below to the webinar recording, and follow along with the slides provided below.  While there is a lot of technical information in the webinar, a cooking demo begins at minute 35 of the video.

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Novice or veteran, fishermen value safety & survival training

Participants in Safety at Sea training practice boarding a life raft.
Participants in Safety at Sea training practice boarding a life raft.

Story and photos by Judy Benson

Dan Russell and Abraham Powell are at opposite ends of their fishing careers.

While both work from vessels docked in New London, Russell is a boat captain who’s been fishing for 50 years. Powell is brand new, having been hired a month ago.

“I haven’t even been out on a boat yet,” he said.

Yet they agreed the Safety at Sea training Oct. 20 and 21 was time well spent regardless of whether they were seasoned or beginner in this ancient and perilous trade. Sponsored by Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Avery Point in collaboration with Fishing Partnership Support Services and the U.S. Coast Guard, the free training put 49 commercial fishermen, state marine agency staff and UConn Marine Science Department researchers and vessel crews through intensive hands-on and classroom lessons that could one day save their lives.

“I learned about some of the new flares and some of the new emergency gear,” said Russell, who first learned safety skills many years ago from the Coast Guard but had never been to the Sea Grant-sponsored training for a refresher.

Anthony Minteins, who fishes for scallops about the Invictus, wraps neoprene gloves around a leak during a flooding and damage control drill.
Anthony Mintiens, who fishes for scallops about the Invictus, wraps neoprene gloves around a leak during a flooding and damage control drill.

Sea Grant has been sponsoring the training with various partners about every two years since 2000 and teamed up with the Fishing Partnership in 2016.

“Hosting these training opportunities to build a culture of safety is one of the most important things I can do for those who work on the water for a living,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director and extension program leader for Connecticut Sea Grant. “It’s especially fitting that we held this training in October, National Seafood Month.”

The classroom portion of the program included an overview of MAYDAY call procedures, PFDs (personal flotation devices) and other safety equipment, interspersed with accounts of real-life tales of survival and tragedies at sea from the instructors, many of whom worked in the industry themselves. Shannon Eldredge, marine safety instructor and community health worker for Fishing Partnership, prefaced a segment on overdose response with a reminder about why fishermen need to be alert for opioid use among their colleagues.

“You don’t get sick time,” she said. “You’re working through pain, and you’re using prescription drugs. You’re going to be the first responders to an overdose.”

That segued into a presentation by Trish Rios, community health worker for the Alliance for Living in New London, about how to administer the overdose reversal drug NARCAN. She recommended every vessel have at least two doses in its first aid kit, and brought several dozen packages of the drug for each fishing vessel to take.

The training then moved outdoors, where groups moved between stations to practice how to deploy signal flares; don immersion suits and board life rafts; put out onboard fires; and repair flooding and vessel damage at sea.

Dana Collyer, one of the instructors, urged all those who make their living on the water to buy their own immersion suits and make sure they fit properly, rather than using one supplied by their vessel.

“This is the most important piece of safety gear you have,” he said.

Another instructor, Mark Bisnette, emphasized the importance of inspecting the suits regularly to ensure they haven’t deteriorated from dry rot. Both he and Collyer are marine surveyors with Marine Safety Consultants Inc.

“You’ve got to maintain it,” Bisnette said. “This is your parachute.”

At the onboard damage control station, Kyra Dwyer, Coast Guard fishing vessel examiner, led groups in practicing how to repair leaks using rope, duct tape, wood wedges, neoprene strips and other equipment they would have onboard. On a facsimile boat deck, teams worked furiously as Dwyer opened valves to send water spraying out from pipes and various seams.

After one crew successfully plugged a series of leaks, she congratulated them.

“You guys had some success,” she said. “You’re going home. You saved the ship.”

A demonstration of how to deploy a life raft concluded the first day.

Fishermen and state agency marine agency staff deploy emergency flares on the beach at UConn Avery Point.
Fishermen and state agency marine agency staff deploy emergency flares on the beach at UConn Avery Point.

Anthony Mintiens, who’s been fishing for scallops on the Stonington-based vessel Invictus for the past eight years, said he’s taken the training before but was grateful for the chance to hone his skills.

“It was totally worth it,” he said. “I don’t want to go down with the ship in the freezing cold.”

The second day was geared to a smaller group of 14 training for certification to conduct monthly safety drills for crew members. It covered such topics as cold-water survival, helicopter rescues and emergency station bills. The day ended with a test of whether participants could put on their immersion suits in 60 seconds or less, followed by simulation of man-overboard and abandon ship drills on board the Emma & Maria, a fishing vessel owned by Michael Theiler, who worked with Sea Grant to organize the training.

Theiler, New London-based commercial fisherman and member of Sea Grant’s Senior Advisory Board, said the hands-on aspect of the training is especially valuable because of the changing makeup of fishing crews.

“We have a pretty high turnover, so it’s especially important to have these trainings,” he said. “For the new guys especially, it’s very helpful to give them familiarity with the safety equipment and a chance to learn the procedures. And it’s a chance for the crew and the captain to work together on a team on these various scenarios.”



Virtual Invasive Plant Symposium, Thursday, November 3, 2022, 8:30 AM-4 PM

Virtual Invasive Plant Symposium, Thursday, November 3, 2022, 8:30 AM-4 PM

This is the last week to register! The Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) 2022 symposium will be a full-day virtual webcast on November 3, with some sessions directed to all attendees and other sessions in concurrent breakouts (recordings of all sessions will be available to registered attendees post-symposium). This year’s theme is Strategies for Managing Invasive Plants: Assess, Remove, Replace, and Restore. The morning session will include a keynote presentation from Bernd Blossey, Cornell University: “Invasive Plant Management: What We Know, What We Do Not Know, and What We Must Know,” as well as presentations by Bryan Connolly, ECSU: “Online Tools and Apps for Identifying and Reporting Invasive Plants” and Diane Jorsey, CT DEEP: “Requirements for Pesticide Applications on Conservation Lands.” The breakout sessions include topics titled: Assessing the Land: Case Studies on What Works; What is Working Around the State; Managing in your Backyard: Failures and Successes; Limitations: Legal and Practical; Control Strategies for Mile-a-Minute, Water Chestnut, and Hydrilla; and Replacement and Restoration: Design, Propagating, and Sourcing Native Seed. CEU’s for organizations and Pesticide Recertification Credits are available. Registration $65 (Students – $25).

More info:

Poster for Virtual Invasive Plant Symposium


Community climate planning projects underway in four CT cities

Doreen Abubaker, of the Community Placement Engagement Network and West River Watershed Partnership, talks to a group at the New Haven Folk Festival about climate change impacts in New Haven and the upcoming Climathon
Doreen Abubaker, of the Community Placement Engagement Network and West River Watershed Partnership, talks to a group at the New Haven Folk Festival about climate change impacts in New Haven and the upcoming Climathon. Photo: Steve Hamm.

Four Connecticut cities have joined a pilot project to boost community participation in climate change planning.

Community activities in Bridgeport, New Haven, New London and Norwich are being led by Connecticut Sea Grant with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will focus on climate risk communication and planning for community resilience. The pilot project received a $75,000 NOAA investment in Fiscal Year 2022, which will be administered by Connecticut Sea Grant.

“Equity is central to how we conduct business at the Department of Commerce — and how we plan for the future,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “By developing and refining techniques for engaging vulnerable populations, this project will help ensure that communities in Connecticut are in charge of their climate future.”

In New Haven, Connecticut Sea Grant has hosted two information booths and workshops at community events—all leading up to a “Climathon” on Oct. 29 to engage residents in understanding and reducing climate vulnerabilities in their neighborhoods. Steve Hamm, one of the founders of Reimagining New Haven, a grassroots group working on the Climathon, describes the Fair Haven neighborhood where the Climathon will be held as “ground zero” for climate change in New Haven.

“We hope to make New Haven more resilient, equitable and just by engaging with a diverse set of people from our communities to catalyze action—drawing on scientific expertise, local voices and the arts,” Hamm said. “We welcome everyone to come to the Climathon and to help make changes.”

A similar series of community climate events is being planned for Bridgeport in the spring.

Connecticut Sea Grant is also partnering with leaders from local NAACP chapters, Indigenous and tribal communities, racial justice and arts organizations on events planned this fall in Norwich and New London. Participants will consider climate change impacts in the context of other community challenges such as housing, education, mental health, racial justice and food security, and develop actions to address them.

Key components of activities in all four communities include practical incentives for participation, such as offering transportation and gift cards, scheduling events at optimal times for working families and using locally owned businesses to provide food and refreshments.

“Connecticut Sea Grant is well-positioned to support this pilot project because we work alongside communities every day to connect NOAA’s climate products and services to those who need them,” said Sylvain De Guise, Connecticut Sea Grant director. “But, we’ve got to get better at working with the communities who need these services the most. Populations that are most impacted by climate-related hazards like flooding and storm surge need to be at the table if we are going to be successful.”

The pilot project aligns with efforts at the state level to develop policy recommendations through an equity lens. Connecticut’s Equity & Environmental Justice Working Group, part of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, was instrumental in organizing officials and environmental justice experts for a 2021 NOAA roundtable where participants shared their lived experience with climate planning and the barriers and challenges associated with getting a seat at the policy table. Activities to involve vulnerable communities in climate and resilience planning were a primary recommendation of the listening session that informed the pilot project.

“I am so pleased to see this pilot provide the resources needed to break down those barriers and try some of the approaches highlighted in the Council process,” said Rebecca French, director of the Office of Climate Planning in the Office of the Commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “I look forward to learning how the state can continue to improve our work in this space.”

“Climate hazards such as flooding and storm surge threaten communities across Connecticut,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “This pilot project will help give vulnerable communities the tools they need to meaningfully inform climate planning, and allow people to take an active role in becoming climate-ready and resilient.”

This pilot project builds on NOAA’s commitment to sustained engagement with underserved communities, and is part of an investment in seven pilot projects happening across the country. Each regional pilot is responding directly to feedback received from partners during climate and equity roundtable discussions that NOAA conducted in 2021. Pilots are taking a unique, place-based approach to helping vulnerable communities better understand, prepare for and respond to climate change.

Learn more about upcoming pilot project announcements and NOAA’s ongoing environmental justice efforts.


October 29, 1-6 p.m.
Martinez School
100 James Street
Fair Haven, CT
Register for this free event:
Climathon information:

FRTEP Field Trip to Holmberg Orchards

We had such a fun field trip to  Holmberg Orchards last Friday with a group of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Member youth! The children picked their own apples and went home with apple recipes and activity pages. They had a great time learning about apple production and were very excited to try the fruit they had harvested themselves.

What are the current US Dietary Guidelines for salt intake and how do I lower my intake?

-Sharon Gray, Nutrition Education, EFNEP Associate Extension Educator

The US Dietary Guidelines recommend a limit of 2300 mg for people ages 14 and up.  That is a single teaspoon of salt.   Most Americans consume 3,400 mg or more of sodium each day which equals 1.5 teaspoons of salt.  About 70% of the sodium in American diets comes from packaged, processed and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker.

Hidden salt is everywhere in the typical American diet and it adds up quickly.

A high sodium diet puts too much strain on the kidneys .  Eventually this leads to high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and kidney disease.

-You can reduce your sodium intake by carefully reading nutrition labels on packaged foods.

  • The Daily Value (DV) for sodium is less than 2,300 mg per day
  • The percent DV shows how much of the maximum recommended amount of sodium in a single serving
  • Aim for less than 5 % DV for sodium if you are looking for low sodium foods
  • Limit or avoid foods with 20% DV or more for sodium

– When you are at restaurants, eat less and consider ordering sauces and dressings on the side

– Try using herbs and spices in recipes to season your food instead of salt