It may not be the most impressive thing sitting in one’s garage, but it definitely has a story.
“It’s a sausage press. Cast iron, made in Pennsylvania. Press sausage into casings, synthetic today, but they used to be the stomach lining of hogs,” says Dennis Witte.
At roughly 120 years old according to Witte, the sausage press has been in the family since it was on his grandfather’s farm. But the press might actually be older. The Enterprise Manufacturing Company of Pennsylvania — where the press was made — had been around since 1870, making the press as old as 140-plus years.
“My father and my grandfather used to make their own sausage. And because we were German, summer sausage is what you’d see in the store today, mettwurst is what we made,” Witte says. “You’d mix up pork and beef, add spices, and then you’d put it in the cast iron sausage press and press it into the linings.
“It would be raw meat at that point, so we’d take it to our smokehouse and smoke it over hardwoods for about two weeks or so. Then when it was done it was cured, essentially, and you could eat it like you would eat salami on a sandwich today. We actually made two different kinds of sausage; the other was called bregenwurst, which we’d usually cook.”
This was the primary sausage maker on the farm. Witte’s grandfather had it, then his father had it, and after him Witte has taken it. It’s been with him after the farm to New York, Columbus, Ohio, then eventually to Clive.
“I haven’t used it since the farm, but I have thought about it. But today it’s so easy to go to places and use the newer, fancier ones, electric. So there’s no need to do that anymore,” Witte says. “Plus in the days they made sausage, homes would have a summer kitchen or off-the-house kitchen. That’s where they did all the big cooking in the summer so the house wouldn’t overheat. No AC back then.
“I wanted to show it off because it’s something unique to my past that no one else has in their garage,” Witt says.
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