My last day in Seattle on this whirlwind tour of the Pacific Northwest – I head North out of the city centre to meet David Pearlstein of Link Labs. I’d first read about David on the Wrightfood blog, Matt who writes that blog is also an avid charcutier and I’ve been following his writing, curing and photography for some time now. David stood out for me in particular as he had taken the extraordinary step of turning his garage/basement into a food processing unit which is fully USDA approved. It’s no small step, David was the first to fully explain to me how USDA approval works – the best comparison I can provide is that it’s like getting a Food Standard Agency meat plant set up, but with the addition that on every processing day an inspector needs to be present to watch you work. There’s no cost implication to the producer in having the inspector there but it doesn’t provide any flexibility in terms of production.
Finding a small ‘cottage industry’ like this on a suburban street is really quite enchanting, for a meat enthusiast like myself, passing through the garage doors are akin to stepping into the wardrobe and entering Narnia. David started his sausage business some eight months ago, and he mentioned the frantic, busy, set-up period that I’m currently in – I just can’t wait to get production underway in my own space! And having seen how it can be done, it’s given me a whole host of ideas.
David’s business is all about sausages, and he makes an incredible variety which he sells both direct and wholesale. Back home you rarely see sausages vacuum packed, but here it’s far more common place – I think it must be largely down to the meat content of the sausages. We’ve traditionally made sausages with added breadcrumbs and rusk which makes a link of much squishier texture, which, when vacuum packed tends to explode.
In addition to his business blog, he also keeps a blog of his own. I’ve yet to read it all, it was initially set up to follow his two year journey curing a leg of pork as prosciutto, but has a variety of other experiments and mentions the building and setting up of the current business – worth a read.