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  • Equipment Header Meat Processing Equipment 104 Smokers

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    What Are The Main Functions?

    Smokers are designed to cook food, usually at lower temperatures for longer periods of time, while imparting a smoked flavor at the same time. They do with wood chunks, pellets, sawdust or charcoal as the smoke sources, some also use the wood as the heat source.

    Rotisserie Smoker Vertical Smoker How Do They Work? Vertical Smokers -

    Vertical smokers have a heat source, usually, gas or electric, at the bottom of the smoker and the pellets or wood chips sit on top of the heat source causing them to smolder and smoke. There will be one or more dampers on the bottom of the smoker and one at the top to allow smoke come up from the bottom and out of the top, drawing the smoke up and over your product. The one disadvantage to these units is that they are not suitable for grilling, they really can only be used as a smoker.

    Offset / Barrel / Ceramic -

    If you like Charcoal and wood smoking then a Ceramic, Barrel or offset Smoker like the ABS Pit Boss might be the best way for you to go. These work great for smoking large amounts of meat at a time or large cuts of meat. The Pit Boss has a rotisserie inside it that keeps the meat moving to make sure everything gets the same amount of smoke and prevents you from having to worry about any cold spots in your smoker. These smokers can range anywhere from basic to very advanced with electronics monitoring the amount of air flow and rotisserie. These types of smokers provide the most classic smoke flavor as they use wood chunks and/or charcoal as both the smoke and heat source. In my opinion, the only disadvantage to these types of units is the cleanup and setup required.

    Pellet / Combo Smoker -

    A pellet combo smoker is a good choice for someone who will do some smoking but always wants to be able to easily grill on the same piece of equipment. These use wood pellets and can smoke at temperatures as low as 150° or grill up to 500° or more. They have a hopper with the pellets on one side, an auger that feeds those pellets down into a heat source than then burns the pellets to act as the heat and smoke source. A chimney will be set off to the opposite side from the hopper to draw the smoke out of the grill area. The advantage to these units is the ease of use, just hit a button and they are ready to go. The disadvantage would be that you are not going to pick up as much smoke as you would with a wood smoker and you generally won’t be able to start below 150°

    How Important Is It?

    Smokers are an essential part of the homemade sausage and meat snack making process. For commercial processing, a good smokehouse is where I would recommend you spend more money as you can make it back faster than on almost any other piece of equipment. For home processors, a quality smoker will give you a much better-finished product and make your entire process more enjoyable.

    Alternatives

    People without a way to smoke can absolutely still make Summer Sausage, Snack Sticks or really any other type of meat snack. You can cook all of these items in an oven and you can add smoke flavor by using Hickory Smoke Powder. Of course, a smoker is preferable as it will give you a more authentic taste.

    Should You Buy One

    Absolutely you should get a smoker. If you don’t think you will smoke enough to spend the money on a dedicated smoker you can get a pellet combo grill to replace your propane smoker! Meat that comes off of a pellet grill/smoker has a much different flavor than meat cooked on a propane grill.

    Best Choice For Beginners

    The Weston 30" Vertical Smoker is an inexpensive and easy to use vertical smoker that, with some practice, will let you smoke almost anything you can think of!

    Other Information

    Make sure that you are using the correct fuel source for you vertical smoker. Some, like the PK-100, need to use sawdust only and pellets can create issues.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers

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  • Equipment Header Meat Processing Equipment 103 Meat Mixers

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    What Are The Main Functions?

    A Meat Mixers main function is to mix in seasoning, cure and other additives with your meat. It also plays a very important role in protein extraction when making a cured sausage product.

    Meat Mixer How Do They Work?

    Most retail meat mixers, like the Weston 20 and 44 lb models work on an axle and paddle system, where you turn the axle with the hand crank and the paddles spin through the chamber. The meat is added first and sits on the bottom of the mixer, the paddles are angled which allows them to scoop the meat off the bottom, rotate it up and drop it back down to mix it. This way you are getting multiple impacts to help break up the proteins as the seasoning is mixed in.

    How Important Is It?

    Mixing seasoning, cure and other additives in with your meat can be achieved by hand fairly easily, so if you are making a lot of fresh sausages then a meat mixer offers a convenience but it is not necessary. However, if you are making cured sausages then you need to achieve high levels of protein extraction during the mixing process. Protein extraction is a very important part of making certain types of meat snacks, anything that is going to be smoked generally needs protein extraction to keep the meat, fat, water and seasoning all bound together. If you don’t have good protein extraction you run the risk of “fatting out” which is when your fat renders out of your product during the cooking process. This leaves you with an unappetizing fatty film on the outside and a dry product.

    Meat Mixer Alternatives

    You can mix in seasoning, cures, and additives by hand or you can add them between the first and second grind on your products and let your Meat Grinder do some of the work for you. These methods are easier to do with uncured products but it can also work for cured products, it will just be more time consuming and you might end up with an inferior product.

    Should You Buy One

    If you are making cured products then I believe them to be absolutely necessary, right up there with Stuffers and Meat Grinders. Lack of proper protein extraction can lead to a host of problems during cooking and smoking products. If you are making only fresh products then it is not necessary but it can be convenient to have.

    Best Choice For Beginners

    The Weston 20 lb Meat Mixer is a nice size for making smaller batches, the scoop and drop action helps with protein extraction and it is fairly easy to break down and clean, all for right about $100.

    Other Information

    Be sure that you are spinning the crank an equal number of times in both directions, this will help disperse the seasonings and cures quicker and ensures an even distribution. Some mixers like the 44 lb Weston will hook up with Weston Butcher and Pro Series Grinders, size 22 and above and it will do the mixing for you.

    You also need to use a certain amount of the capacity for this type of mixer to be effective, trying to do a batch that is much below 1/2 of the capacity will give you issues.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Mixers Shop waltonsinc.com for Summer Sausage Seasonings Shop waltonsinc.com for Snack Stick Seasonings

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  • Equipment Header Meat Processing Equipment 102 Sausage Stuffers

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    What Are The Main Functions?

    Sausage stuffers are the best way to take a ground product and get into a casing or meat bag. They can be vertical or horizontal, hand crank, electric, hydraulic or vacuum powered. The Walton’s Sausage Stuffers are vertically orientated and come in 7, 11, 26 and 33 lb models.

    Hydraulic Stuffer Stuffer at an Angle Stuffing How Do They Work?

    These stuffers have two gears, one on the bottom that is designed for stuffing and one above that can only be used to quickly reverse your piston out of the cannister. The canister is secured to the frame by 4 brackets, 2 on each side. The bottom bracket supports the canister during stuffing from vertical pressure where the top bracket locks it in. Your ground and seasoned meat is loaded into the canister by tilting the canister backward, once it has been filled it needs to be locked back in place. Attach the hand crank to the lower of the two gears on the side and begin cranking. As you crank the gears will turn in the gearbox, forcing the rack down and pushing the piston down through the canister. This will force your meat down and out the stuffing tube at the bottom and into your casing or meat bag.

    How Important is it?

    A Stuffer is an important piece of equipment for any home processor. Stuffers make it easy to get near perfectly filled casings nearly everytime. They also allow you to use much smaller casings than you would be able to if you were trying to stuff off of a grinder.

    Alternatives

    Most Meat Grinders have some stuffing capability and they certainly can be used for stuffing sausage. However, it will be much slower than if you used an actual sausage stuffer and you generally cannot stuff small diameter products like snack sticks off of a Meat Grinder.

    Should You Buy One

    If someone is looking to make their own homemade fresh sausage a sausage stuffer might be the first thing I would recommend. You can purchase already ground meat, mix in the seasoning and stuff them into casings and you are done. If you are making cured products you will probably need a few other pieces of equipment but a stuffer is, in my mind, still a very important piece of equipment. If deciding between a Stuffer and a Meat Grinder for you,r first purchase it will come down to the question of how you are obtaining your meat. For a hunter, I would absolutely recommend you buy a grinder first but to make a really quality product you are going to eventually want a sausage stuffer.

    Best Choice For Beginners

    7 lb or the 11 lb Sausage Stuffer are my two favorite models for small batches, which is what you will probably do at the beginning. The reason for this is that the piston on both of these models have a smaller diameter, which means that it requires less force to crank down the handle.

    Other Information

    The size of your stuffing tube and casing will play a large part in how much effort it takes to turn your crank. The larger the tube the easier it will crank as there will be less resistance, the fat content, water content and other factors of your product can also play a large part as well.

    Walton’s Sausage Stuffers are made from stainless steel and zinc coated aluminum. They come with 4 different sized stainless steel stuffing tubes, a 12mm, 16mm, 22mm, 38mm, and a 10mm is also available for purchase for stuffing very small snack sticks. Just remember that the smaller the tube the more force that will be required to crank the handle.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Sausage Stuffers Shop waltonsinc.com for Snack Stick Seasonings Shop waltonsinc.com for Summer Sausage Seasonings

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  • Equipment Header Meat Processing Equipment 101 Meat Grinders

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    What Are The Main Functions?

    The main function of a grinder is to take a whole muscle cut of meat and break it down into a ground format that can then be seasoned, cured, stuffed into a casing and then cooked.

    Grinder Parts Grinder Overhead Grinder Closeup How Do They Work?

    Electric grinders have a hopper at the top where you load your meat that you are preparing to grind. The hopper has a hole in it that leads down to the throat of the grinder where an auger that is powered by the motor pushes the meat towards the plate and knife that will curt and grind your meat. The grinding knife goes behind the plate with the sharpened surface facing towards the plate, this cuts the meat and forces it through the holes of the grinding plate, the larger the holes on the grinding plate the faster your meat will grind and the coarser your product will be. Many products need to be ground twice, sometimes through a larger plate first and then through a smaller plate and sometimes twice through a larger plate.

    How Important is it?

    It depends on what type of meat you will most often be starting with. If you are going to be starting with whole muscle cuts then it is the most important piece of equipment that you can have! Other than a Bowl Chopper, which is an expensive commercial piece of equipment, will allow you to take a whole piece of meat and break it down into a ground product.

    Alternatives

    Like we said above, a Bowl Chopper will offer you similar functionality but the cost makes them unreasonable for the home processor. The main alternative to a Meat Grinder is to purchase already ground meat. If you want to make snack sticks you can buy ground pork, seasoning and cure it and then use a Sausage Stuffer to stuff it into casings.

    Should You Buy One

    If you are choosing between a grinder and stuffer to make meat sausage at home I would say a wild game processor should go with the grinder as it will allow them to break down the carcass and stuff and the person using beef or pork should get a sausage stuffer and buy pre-ground meat from the store.

    Best Choice For Beginners

    The Weston #12 750 Watt Meat Grinder is a nice choice for beginners as it gives you a medium-sized plate, with a powerful enough motor to break down larger cuts while staying under $200.

    Other Information

    Grinders come in different sizes with different grinding capacities, the number associated with the grinder corresponds to the size of the head assembly as well as the plate and knife you can use with that grinder. Standard sizes are #5, #8, #10 and 12 which are the same size, #22 and #32. A #5 grinder will use a plate that is 2-1/8" in diameter and generally has the ability to grind around 2-3 lb of meat per minute under ideal circumstances.

    A larger grinder like a #32 grinder will use a plate that is 3-15/16" in diameter and something like the Weston #32 Pro Series can grind upwards of 18 lb a minute. The power on a meat grinder also plays an important role in how many lb a minute it can process and how long it can be run for. Power can range from 500 watts on a small #5 up to 2 horsepower for the Weston Pro #32 series. The amount of horsepower is important as this is what drives the auger in the head assembly and more power means you can grind faster and use larger chunks of meat saving you processing time.

    Some meat grinders do have the ability to act as sausage stuffer as well as a grinder. You can switch out the plate and knife for a star stuffing adapter, attach a stuffing horn and stuff your ground product into casings or meat bags. While the stuffing capability is a nice thing to have it is much harder and will take longer to stuff with your grinder versus using an actual sausage stuffer. Because of the pressure required to stuff a product into smaller casings meat grinders will not work on anything smaller than a bratwurst or hotdog sized product.

    Both plates and knives are available in both disposable and sharpenable versions. Disposable should be used until they are dull and then thrown out, sharpenable plates and knives can be sent into Walton’s and we will sharpen them for a small fee. These types of plates and knives are more expensive initially but it is much cheaper to have us sharpen them than buy new ones, plus they are made to a higher quality and will give you a better-finished product. You can see the difference between a disposable and sharpenable knife just by looking at it, the disposable will look like a pinwheel and just has a flat edge, the sharpenable knife has a quality piece of steel on each arm that sticks up from the body.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Grinders

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