Sausage, Let's Begin

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Meat Grinders:

How Much You Will Use It:

For those who use a grinder only once or twice a year or grind just a few pounds of meat at a time, a hand grinder will probably be fine. The size hand grinder you buy will depend on your physical capabilities; the bigger they are the harder they turn. If you plan on grinding meat on a regular basis or do not want to crank by hand you need to buy electric grinder. We recommend a size # 10 or larger.

What Size Grinder:

Hand Grinders are sized as # 5, 8, 10, 12, 22 & 32. Sizes # 5, 8 and 10 are identified by the "C" clamp mounting method and sizes # 12, 22, 32 are identified by the 4 point bolt down mounting method. For the very occasional user a size # 5 or # 8 may do but we consider these smaller grinders almost useless and do not carry or recommend them.

Electric grinders are rated by the motor horsepower, wattage or amps. Generally speaking, a electric grinder rated by horsepower will handle any type of meat including the tougher game meats. Those rated by amps or wattage are light duty and should only be used to grind domestic meats.

What Kind Of Meat Will Be Ground:

Game meat is tougher to grind than tame meat. If you grind a lot of game meat you will need to buy a size 12 or larger electric grinder. Electric grinders that are smaller than size 12 such as the "chopper attachment" you have for your blender or mixer will not hold up to the tougher game meat. You can also use a hand grinder for game meat because the hand grinders do not have a motor to burn up if they are overloaded.. However, pick a size hand grinder you can turn.
Amount Of Space: If you only have your kitchen or utility room for storage and to work in, a hand or compact electric grinder is probably all you have room for. The larger size 22 and 32 sizes beg for their own work table and work room.

Clean Up:

All grinder heads disassemble for cleaning. The smaller ones will fit in a dishwasher and the larger ones will need to be cleaned by hand. Once the cleaning is complete lubricate the plate, knife, bowl, feed-screw and ring with a Food Grade Spray Or Oil.

Making Sausage:

What You Need

Meat grinder (hand or electric).
A few accessories, which would include a stuffing horn, a grinding knife, and a couple of grinding plates.
Scale for weighing the meat and ingredients. (A bathroom or kitchen scale will do.)
Casings or bags
Pork trimmings, butts or shoulders
Seasonings
Your game meat

The first thing in making good sausage is to take care of your meat. Keep it clean and keep it cold. Next bone out the meat you choose for putting into sausage (it will surprise you how much meat you can get from the neck and rib areas if you try). After boning the meat, keep it cold or frozen until you are ready to make sausage. Add pork for flavor and to provide some fat to the usually lean game meat. How much pork to add, you ask? That would depend on how you want your sausage to cook up, how lean your game meat is, what type of game meat and type of pork you are using. Here are some guidelines for Venison or Elk:

Using a ratio of 50% game meat with 50% pork butts or pork shoulders will give you a high quality sausage with a pork influence. Hint: Use a ratio of 60% game meat with 40% pork butts or pork shoulders if the game meat has some fat showing.

Using a ratio of 75% game meat with 25% pork trimmings will give the game meat some pork flavor and bind it when cooking, without removing the venison taste. Hint: Use a ratio of 80% game meat with 20% pork trimmings if the game meat has some fat showing.

Our choice is to use 75/25 or 80/20 ratio depending on how fat our game is. You can use Feral hog for the pork if you have it or use your Feral hog to make 100% pork sausage. Pick the ratio you want, weigh out the game and pork and grind using a 3/8" or larger grinding plate. We recommend you start by making 5lb. batches. Assign each batch a number and carefully log down everything you do in making each batch. Later, as you use the sausage you can look back at that batch in your log and adjust the next batch for any changes you might need or want to make. (too hot, not hot enough, etc).

Most premixed seasonings come packaged for a certain amount of meat. Read the label to determine the amount of seasoning needed for your batch of meat. Also you will find it easier to use premixed seasoning than trying to weight out each ingredient. Mix your seasonings with water and pour over the meat. After mixing thoroughly, regrind using the 3/16" grinding plate.

When you regrind, use the stuffing horn to put the sausage into the casing (for fresh links) or bags (for pan sausage). You can make sausage rope style and cut it into smaller pieces later. You can also make small links as you go, leaving 6" unfilled casing between each link, cutting and tying the links as you go. Wrap with freezer paper or put in freezer bags before storing in the freezer.

To Make Smoked Sausage You Need:

All the above
Cure 1 oz. For each 25 lbs. of meat.
Smokehouse
Heat source
Thermometer

If you choose to cold smoke your sausage you must add cure with the seasoning to prevent your meat from spoiling. Just add the cure in with the seasoning in any batch you plan to smoke. Cure allows you to cold smoke your sausage at low temperatures.

After you stuff the sausage you plan to cold smoke into casings, let it hang until the internal temperature approaches room temperature. Place the sausage into a smokehouse preheated to 120-130 F and allow the internal temperature of the sausage to rise to around 90-100 F. Start your smoke at this time. Raise the smokehouse temperature to 140 F and let smoke for 1 to 4 hours. The longer you smoke the meat the stronger the smoke taste will be. When the smoking time is finished raise the smokehouse temperature to 170-175 F. Continue to cook until the internal temperature of the sausage is 152 F for a fully cooked sausage. Once the sausage has an internal temperature of 152 F remove it from the smokehouse and shower with cool water until the internal temperature has dropped to 100 F or lower. This will reduce shriveling and shrinkage and remove any smoke residue from the sausage. Allow sausage to hang at room temperature for 1-2 hours. This will allow the sausage to finish blooming.

For a partially cooked product, yet with some smoke flavor, you can remove the sausage after the desired smoke level is obtained. You would need to then freeze the sausage for later cooking and use.

You will also need a smokehouse of some sort. We have seen underground pits, 55 gallon drums, old refrigerators, wooden buildings, and backyard pits, so use your imagination. A heat source can be a small hotplate, your BBQ pit, a gas burner, etc.

The difference between cold smoking and cooking with smoke is the temperature you use and the time it takes. Cold smoking is smoking at low temperatures usually around 100 F. Cold smoking will flavor your sausage with the smoke flavor and dry your sausage. At temperatures of 140 and above you start to cook your sausage. To obtain a smoked yet fully cooked product you need smokehouse temperatures above 175 F. to bring your internal temperature up to 152 F. You must use a cure when smoking sausages .

Stuffers:

Stuffers Come In Several Designs Including Push, Crank And Hydraulic. They are Made Of Cast Iron, Stainless, Plastic Or Combinations of Several.

Stuffer Tips:

Hand Stuffers Are Hand Held Funnels Which You Use To Push The Meat Into Casings.
Push Stuffers Are The Quickest To Reload But Have A Small Capacity. You Must Push Down On A Handle To Force Out The Meat. They Have The Smallest Capacity And Cost The Least.
Crank Stuffers Offer A Gear Ratio To Make It Easier To Crank Out The Meat With Less Effort. They Offer Greater Capacity And Cost More Than Push Stuffers And Less Than Hydraulic Stuffers.
Water Powered Stuffers Use Water To Power The Stuffer. They operate Off The Water Pressure Found in Most Water Systems And Free Up Your Hands To Handle The Casing. Their Cost Can Range From Cheap To Expensive.
Hydraulic Powered Stuffers Use Pressure To Power The Stuffer. They Offer The Most Capacity, Cost The Most And Are Used For Hi Capacity Operations.

On Push Or Crank Stuffers Without 'O' Rings Meat Will Tend To Leak Around The Pusher Plate. This Problem Can Be Solved By Folding Aluminum Foil Several Times And Placing Over The Meat Forming A Seal.
Use A Food Grade Grease On All Gears And Rack Or Screw.

Stuffing Tips:

The Meat Mixture Should Be Stuffed Into Sausage Casings Right After It Is Mixed. This Is Recommended Since The Seasonings, Especially Salt, Tend To Stiffen Or Set Up The Mixture And Will Make It Hard To Push The Meat Mixture Through The Stuffer Tube. This Stiffening Up Will Take Effect Within 30 Minutes.

It is not necessary to stuff fresh sausage meat. It can be left in bulk form or made into patties. Most sausage, however, is made by placing the ground ingredients in some type of casing to give them shape and hold them together for processing. The casing materials may be natural or manufactured.
Natural casings are the gastrointestinal tracts of cattle, sheep and hogs. Generally, hog casings are the most suitable for home use and work quite well for Polish and breakfast-type sausages. They are digestible and are very permeable to moisture and smoke. Natural casings preserved in salt must be soaked in lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes before use. Flush each casing under cold water, running cold water through the casing. This removes excess salt from the casing. Unused casings can be drained, covered with salt and frozen.

Fibrous casings are more suitable for summer sausage and similar products because of their greater strength and the variety of sizes available. They are permeable to smoke and moisture and can easily be removed from the finished product. These casings should be soaked before use in 80 to 100 F water for at least 30 minutes, but not more than four hours before use. If the casings are not pre-stuck they should be punctured with a knife point or pin to eliminate air and fat pockets in the finished sausage.

Collagen casings contain the attributes of both natural and fibrous casings. They have been developed primarily for use in products such as fresh pork sausage and pepperoni sticks. They are uniform in size, relatively strong and easy to handle. These casings also are used for the manufacture of dry sausages, because they are permeable and will shrink. Do not soak Collagen casings in water.

For cooked products that are generally water-cooked (like braunschweiger), plastic casings impermeable to water are used.


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