adopt a bacon sandwich - armchair farming at its best!

Cleanliness is next to godliness, and it will prevent you from killing yourself or anyone that you give/sell your product to.

Wash hands frequently, sometimes between loads but definitely before changing steps.

Keep everything that is not in use in plastic zip lock type bags.  Vacuum seal spices, cures and additives to make sure they stay fresh.

The average household or even the average kitchen has enough bacteria and germs to make the normal person sick. When you are playing with foods that are basically cooked in the middle of the Botulism "zone", you need to take as many extra precautions as you can.

Botulism is the most deadly form of food poisoning. It can occur in food products before the first hint of a foul odour or other form of food spoilage occurs. It is a food poisoning caused by the bacterium Clostridium Botulism. These bacteria are easily destroyed by boiling, but their toxin producing spores are not so easily destroyed at 100C (boiling point of water). And they thrive in a low acid, moist environment that is lacking of oxygen. When the sausage is between the temperatures of 4C to 60C, you get a problem. Since smoked or dry/semi-dry (cured) sausages fall into this category, you need to take extra precautions to make sure you do not produce something that will kill.

Implicit in the word cured is the use of an agent or process that provides long term keeping properties to the sausage. The use of salt, drying and fermentation are examples of curing that have been used for millennia. Modern public health practices demand the use of chemical agents in the form of nitrites and/or nitrates to assure the destruction of pathogenic organisms such as that which causes botulism.

Cured sausages can further be divided into semidry and dried sausages. Semidry sausages, such as summer sausage and hot dogs are cooked, either in hot water or a smokehouse and will keep under refrigeration for months. Dry sausages are not cooked but are dried to about 75% of their stuffed weight over a period of several months and will keep for years at room temperature. Both types can be fermented by the addition of a lactic acid producing bacteria culture that provides a wonderful tang to the sausage in addition to the enhancement of long keeping qualities.