MAKING YOUR OWN SAUSAGE
You really don’t need a lot of specialized sausage making equipment to turn out great sausage at home.
Some of what you do need you’ll already have on hand.
Some things you may have to go out and find…that can be half the fun!
If you want to spend the money to get the newest equipment with all the latest bells and whistles, you sure can…It’s out there, and a lot of it is great. It’s really up to you.
Remember though, sausage making is an ancient art. The things that worked well a hundred years ago still work just fine today.
There’s no rule that says you have to buy new equipment either. It just needs to be in good, clean working order. As a matter of fact, my favorite way to search out great bargains is to keep a close eye on flea markets, yard sales, eBay and general merchandise auctions. Some of my finest buys have been at estate sales and auctions.
They are quite productive and if you go enough you are going to get hooked on auctions. If you attend auctions and estate sales enough you are going to find almost anything you want—eventually. Auctions can be exciting and fun to attend for the whole family. Try them out, I think you will like them.
I’ve found that the Internet has made great deals on used (and new) equipment much easier to come by and… the selection is greater than ever before.
Do a little searching around the house, in your community, or online, and you’ll easily find everything I talk about here.
If you are interested in making sausage for you and the family there are a few things you are going to need. One is a meat grinder. What kind will you need? Say if you are wanting to just make a few pounds of sausage, you could start out with a hand grinder. It takes a little work but they are quite efficient and handy.
Hand grinders are around $25.00 new and used $5 to $10.00. Later on you can up-grade to an electric grinder for larger grinding jobs. Costs very from $100 to several thousands.
Before hand grinders were invented people used knives to chop and mince their meat in preperation for making sausage. If you are making small amounts of sausage the hand grinder is perfect.
Half the fun is hunting down a good grinder with all its plates and blades. Flea markets and yard sales are good sourses. Don’t forget about estate sales and Auctions. Grandma may have an old hand grinder in the attic or way back in the kitchen cabinet that they used to use. If you like ordering on line there are great sourses here as well.
Just remember to check for all the parts if you buy used. You need a 1/8th inch plate and a 1/4 inch plate and you need good sharp blades to cut the meat efficiently.
If you are going to make more than a few pounds of sausage, the electric grinder, is the way to go. They will grind more meat in a shorter period of time. I will list a few electric grinders later on in this article.
If you are a wild game hunter or just want to buy beef and pork for larger batches use an electric grinder. Grinding will only take a little while and will make the job that much easyer and fun for the whole family.
There are several sizes of grinders to choose from. They come in home sizes and commercial sizes. Hunting clubs will sometimes purchase a commercial size grinder and everybody gets together after their hunt and grind and make sausage. Now, these grinders, can sometimes grind several hundred pounds of meat at a time. So, if, you are into processing large amounts of meat then these commercial grinders will get the job done a lot faster.
Home grinders come in a couple different sizes depending on how much meat you need to grind. Kitchen aide comes with a grinding attachment and even has a sausage stuffer attachment you can purchase for the grinder. Remember the cost involved with grinders. The bigger volume and faster grinders will naturally cost more. So take this into consideration when looking for grinders.
Be carefull buying a used grinder. Make sure and electric grinder works well and has all the parts. Electric grinders have more parts than a manual grinder and needs some one that knows what they are doing if they have to be worked on. Stay away from frayed electricle cords and noisey, “clankly” motors. You are going to have to start repairs before you really are able to use them.
Also made sure all the working parts are metal. Plastic is fine for the outside case but not for the blade, plates and auger. Plastic parts just do not stand up to the wear and tear of a grinding equipment.
Tools for making sausage are important. Choose grinders that fit your need and your budget. Use good quality knives and good sturdy storage container. If you start small you can always upgrade when you need to.
Most sausage recipes call for your ground meat to be stuffed into a casing to hold the meat and spices together. Sausage stuffers are made just for the job of stuffing ground meat and spices into a casing.
Stuffers come in a varity of models and styles, from manual to electric, just like grinders. There again it depends on what you and your family deed the the equipment to do.
The old reliable manual machines are a little slow. The manual has been around for years and are almost indistructable. The larger manual machines are excellent to use but they aren’t found very often on the used market.
The electric and hydraulic models are another choice but normally used in commercial operations and really to expensive for home use.
Manual stuffers are made of metal and operate on a plunger system. The different sizes of stuffing tubes that fit on the front of the stuffer are made of plastic or stainless steel. You can stuff about three pounds of meat at a time using one of thes small amanual stuffers.
Cost at a flea market averages around $10 or less and on line around $50 for new.
LARGER MANUAL STUFFERS
Larger manual machines can handle around 15 to 50 lbs. at a time and operate by a hand cranke and are usely made of stainless steel.
If you are going to make large amounts of sausage at a time these machines are great to use. Cost usely runs between $180 to $400 new and again this depends on what your needs are.
These machines will process hundreds of pounds of meat an hour. They are either hydraulic, or vacuum, are of huge capacity and only used in commercial or industrial sausage companies
A dedicated sausage stuffer can be expensive, and there is the storage issue of another piece of equipment to deal with. Another possibility would be to check your grinder for optional stuffer attachments. Most grinders today offer different attatchments to be used with their equipment.
Kitchen aid is set up to handel both grinding and stuffing attatchments. For stuffing just remove the grinding plate and attach the stuffing tube you want to use. Some times these are a little slow but they do a fine job.
Always remember when purchasing your stuffing equipment to get several different sizes of stuffing tubes.
Stuffing tubes, like casings, come in different sizes for different types of sausage. Breakfast sausage and franks, for the smallest tube. For medium size tubes and casings you want to make Polish style sausage, smoked sausage, game sausage etc. For bologna and summer sausage you need the larger size tube. Don’t forget the possibilities are endless when making your home made sausages.
KNIVES—WHAT KNIFE TO USE IN SAUSAGE MAKING?
Well there are several possibilities. I like to use a good quality, well balanced heavy boning knife to start with. Then a good Chefs knife and finally a heavy meat clever for those tough jobs that takes a little weight behind it like large clods of meat you need to cut up and seperate. My meat cleaver is just what I need for this job and then I use my boning knife.
The boning kife should be at least 7 inches long and thin bladed and very flexable, to get in between and around bones This makes boning meat fast and easy. Slicing through meat with a thin blade is easier because there is less drag and sticking as there will be with a wider blade such as the Butcher knife.
My favorite knives are the old German made steel knives with wooden handles. They are heavy, tough and hold an edge well. These knives are easy to sharpen and stay sharp. Stainless steel and carbon steel today are extremly good quality knives and hold up very well. Remember to take good care of your knives and they will last a life time.
Make sure you purchase knives you are going to be comfortable holding and gripping. They feel good in your hand and are easy to work with. You don’t want bulkey, awkward knives to work with while you are cutting up meat for the grinder. You will be using these knives for several hours at a time so pick out your knives wisely.
You could probably go through all the sausage making with only a couple of boning knives, but I do like the chef knife for all my herbs and spices. My meat clever is proffessional grade, German made and it is heavy and sharp. I love my meat cleaver and believe it or not I can do a lot with it. My cleaver makes my job of processing game, beef and pork much, much easier and faster.
I have included some knife sets and sharpeners here with some thermometers you might like to look over. But you have to purchase the knives you are going to be happy with. If you take care of them, good quality, knives can be expected to at least last a life time. Good quality cutlery is a long term investment. You don’t have to go broke buying knives. Just watch what you are doing and buy wisely. Learn how to use your sharpener, keep knives sharp, clean and dry. A dull knife is worthless cutting the meat and getting it ready for the grinder.
There we have a little bit on knives for the sausage making, and now what about—-
-CONTAINERS FOR STORAGE
Well, wouldn’t you just put the meat in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator—–not hardly. There isn’t that much that is complicated about containers. Make sure that the container is rated as “food grade containers” for all your sausage making and storage.
Glass and stainless steel containers as well as mixing bowls are almost always food safe and no problem using these.
Large tubs used for holding your cut up meat and for mixing can be baught on line starting at about $20-$30 and are made just for this purpose. Make sure again that these are “food safe” before ordering.
Hey. ONe idea I use all the time for mixing and holding my meat is my 45 quart ice chest. Making sure of course it is clean and there are no cracks or deep scratches. These are food safe and insulated, so, you can keep all your meat cold while you are processing. Works great when you need more tubs to work with, especially, on large meat grinding projects.
I like to go around resturants and get some of the 5 gallon buckets they get pickles and eggs in. These are food safe and work great for meat and sausage. If you watch, sometimes, I can get the lids as well. These lids have a rubber seal in the top and you can sometimes “burp” them like Tupper Ware and are ideal for storage containers. Bakerys are great sourses, as well as hamburger stands. Most of the time the resturants just throw them away, but sometimes they might sell them. Still not a bad deal for storage.
Storing your spices can be achieved with glass jars or plastic containers that can be air tight and keeps out the light. Light tends to break down the spice very rapedly. Use an opaque container or store in a dark place.
Almost any glass bottle, or jar can be used for food storage. Any plastic bucket, jar, or jug that held food once can be used as storage. If you buy plastic for storage make sure they have a tag that says it is “food safe”.
I will be back with some suggestions on supplies and a few spices on another page. Have fun with your sausage making.