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Recent Posts

  • Equipment Header Meat Processing Equipment: 208 Using Oven at Low Temperatures

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

    Starting Low

    For almost any type of cured sausage one of the best things you can do is to start the temperature of your smoker or oven at no more than 20° higher than the body temperature of the animal was. This prevents the proteins in the meat from suffering too much heat shock damage.

    The problem is that most home smokers or ovens won’t go that low. One of the ways people combat this is by propping the lid of their smoker or oven open to let some of the heat “bleed” out. To do this you will need a probe thermometer that has the ability to act as an ambient temp thermometer so you know what the actual temperature of the oven is. We began by setting the oven to 175° which was the lowest that our oven will go and propping the door open a good amount to let the heat escape. We quickly found out that this was too much propping and that only a very small opening was necessary.

    Probe Thermometer Sous Vide Pepperoni Texture Cooking Temperature

    We were able to stabilize our top rack at exactly 120° but our bottom rack continued to change dramatically so we gave up and moved everything to one rack. We are also lucky enough to have a convection oven option in this oven so for the first hour I turned that on to keep the air moving, this mimicked the are flow of a smoker with dampers wide open so it worked well for our initial drying phase.

    After they had cooked for an hour at 120° we began to experiment with moving it higher and higher. We were able to get the top rack to reach 130° by closing the door even more and then 150° by opening the door more and raising the temperature and finally 180 by simply closing the door and setting it to 175°.

    Finish Sous Vide Style

    We also decided to pull these and finish them up sous vide style. We moved some into a sous vide cooker 100°, some at 120 and some at 135 and we moved one of the 120° pepperonis to a pot of water that we had set to 170° on the stove to prove that even if you don’t have a sous vide cooker you can still get a sous vide style finished product as long as you are patient and carful.

    We have done this before and we again found that you should wait until your product is around 120-135° before moving it. The pepperoni we moved at 100° did not have as good of a texture as the ones that had dried longer in the oven/smoker.

    Tips Shop waltonsinc.com for GrillEye PRO Plus Shop waltonsinc.com for Sous Vide Immersion Circulator Shop waltonsinc.com for Fibrous Sausage Casings

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  • Equipment Header Meat Processing Equipment: 207 Advanced Grinding

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

    Overview

    Grinding meat is one of the most common things that most home processors do, it doesn’t matter what sausage you are making or if you are just making a bulk ground product to add to products later, it all has to go through a grinder and getting it ground as quickly and cleanly as possible is going to help you make the best product you can.

    So we wanted to show you two huge factors in what effects the length of time it takes you to grind your meat. Remember, the longer it is out of the cooler the more chance it is going to have to grow microorganisms and the warmer the meat is the harder it will be to grind and the more likely the fat is to smear.

    Probe Thermometer Pro-Cut #22 Second Grind Importance of Cold Meat

    We are using our Weston Pro Series #22 and we will grind 2 separate batches to show you the difference cold meat can have on the speed of a grind. One was straight from the cooler and the other was sitting in our blast freezer for about 20 minutes. The first grind through a 3/8" on the meat from the cooler took us 3 minutes and the one from the freezer took us 2 minutes 35 second. So that is a small amount difference, certainly nothing to get excited about.

    However, the real benefit is on the second grind which will always take longer. The 2nd grind, through a 1/8 inch plate took 14 minutes and the one from the freezer took 12 minutes 15 second. That is significant savings in time and also keeps your meat safer through this process.

    If you really want your grind to go fast you can also put your head assembly, including plates, knives, and auger into the freezer for you grind.

    ProCut #22 Grinder

    The other thing that can really affect the speed and quality of your grind is, of course, your grinder. Obviously, size matters here but that’s not the only thing that matters. We repeated the test we did on the Weston pro #22 with our Pro -Cut #22 grinder. We used the same plates and knives so there was no difference with that. We also repeated the cooler vs freezer experiment here.

    The first grind through a 3/8" on the meat from the cooler took us 2 minutes on both the batches. Honestly, the thing slowing this process down the most was probably my ability to keep pushing the meat down the throat of the grinder.

    The 2nd grind, through a 1/8 inch plate took 5 minutes 30 seconds, compare that to 14 minutes on the Weston Pro #22 and the one from the freezer took 3 minutes 50 seconds instead of the 12 minutes it took with the other one. So clearly the grinder you are using matters as does the temperature of the meat you are trying to grind.

    Now, obviously the pro-cut #22 is significantly more expensive than the Weston pro #22 but this is a good example of the advantages that commercial processors have over what you are trying to do at home. So, if you are trying to make a product at home that is as good as what you can get in the store you need to take every advantage of every little trick that you can!

    Tips

    If you really want your grind to go fast you can also put your head assembly, including plates, knives, and auger into the freezer for you grind.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Grinders Shop waltonsinc.com for Grinder Parts

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  • Equipment Header Meat Processing Equipment: 206 Advanced Sausage Stuffers

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

    Style of Stuffers

    Walton’s has 3 styles of Sausage Stuffers, the 7 lb single speed which operates on a horizontal gear with a threaded rack that is raised or lowered by turning the handle that is attached to the gear. The Electric Stuffer that has a 26 lb capacity. And we have 4 different sizes of dual speed stuffers. We have the 7 and 11 lb for smaller batches and then the 26 and 33 lb stuffers for larger batch processing. The only difference in the dual speed stuffers, apart from the size is that the 26 and 33 lb stuffers have a handle on the front of the cylinder to help with loading and moving the cylinder.

    Walton’s dual speed sausage stuffers have stainless steel frames, cylinder and stuffing tubes which are 3 main portions of the stuffer. The cylinder locks into the frames in 4 places which keeps it securely in place during the stuffing process. The stuffing tubes are easy to switch out, simply unscrew the trefoil nut, place a stuffing tube up against the machine and screw the nut back on.

    Top & Bottom Gear Gasket Orientation Gear Box Gear Box Gears

    Walton’s stuffers have 2 gears on the side that you can hook the handle up to for moving the piston. The top one is a high speed gear and should only be used when backing the piston out of the cylinder. The bottom gear is the one you should be using to stuff sausage off of. The gear box is aluminum with zinc plated gear steel gears and when you turn the crank it moves the gear and pushes the rack down through the cannister.

    Piston & Gasket

    Now, the rack lines up with the gears in the box so it moves up and down as you turn the crank, at the bottom of the rack it has a screw that allows you to attach the piston, The piston is aluminum with a durable plastic gasket that goes around the outside to prevent meat from escaping back up into the cylinder, it also has an adjustable air release valve to allow air to escape the cylinder and not be pushed down into the sausage. As the piston goes down it will push your meat through the opening at the bottom and into the stuffing tube and into your casing. There was a change at some point in how you orientate the gasket so now instead of the outer most part going at the bottom of the piston it goes at the top like this. I have done a lot of testing and if you put the gasket in upside down it will still work you just might get a little more of the meat escaping around the edges of the piston.

    Tube Sizes

    The Walton’s Dual Speed Sausage Stuffers come with 4 sizes of stuffing tubes, a 12mm for snack sticks and breakfast sausage, a 16mm for hot dog sized sausage, a 22mm for bratwurst and smoked sausage and a 38 for large summer sausage and for stuffing into bulk bags.

    Tips

    A few tips on using a sausage stuffer. A wood clamp like this one can be a huge help, especially when processing alone as it can prevent the stuffer from rocking back and forth during cranking. You could also remove the frame from the base and screw it into a table, if you have a spare table that you can easily sanitize. While we are talking about cranking, if you are cranking and handle is having a really hard time moving you need to back it out and make some adjustments to your batch. The first thing I would do is adjust the air release valve, if that doesn’t do it then I would put the entire canister in the freezer and cool it down for a while, meat that is very cold will stuff much easier as the fat will be less sticky. Finally if those don’t work you might need to add some water to your batch. If you try to keep cranking you could be building up pressure and when you let go of the handle it might spin rapidly in the opposite direction and could injure someone.

    If you are trying to determine which size will work best for you you should take a few things into account. The first is obviously batch size, if you are making mostly 5-10 batches than the 7-11 lb stuffers would be a better option, if you make large batches than the 26 or 33 lb stuffers will end up saving you a lot of time. Another thing to take into account is strength and effort. The piston on a 26 and 33 lb stuffer is far bigger than the 7 and 11 lb models, this means that they will require more effort to turn the crank as there is more surface area and more meat to be pushed down through the cylinder.

    Electric Stuffer

    Finally you might also want to look at the 26 lb electric sausage stuffer. This stuffer takes almost all of the effort out of stuffing sausage. It has a speed dial on the side so you can set how quickly you want to stuff and a foot pedal so you can start and stop the piston from going up or down simply by pushing down with your foot or taking the pressure off. This stuffer might not help you stuff much faster than a hand crank but it will be much easier. This would be a good stuffer for someone who does a lot of stuffing by themselves or for someone looking to make the process of sausage stuffing easier. One note on this stuffer is that it will not currently work for smaller diameter snack stick sized products, it should only be used for bratwurst and larger sized sausages.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Stuffers Shop waltonsinc.com for Stuffing Tubes

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