Stupid Mistakes (a.k.a., "Learning Experiences")

  • Team Orange PK100 Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Regular Contributors

    The opposite of a proper “bragging” is owning up to a proper “dumb-*** mistake,” right? If we’re going to inspire others with our successes (and pat ourselves on the back), let’s also teach some folks with our mistakes (and get a good, healthy laugh at ourselves). Chime in with some of your good ones!

    Allow me to kick things off.

    My recent, world-class brain fart happened just yesterday (or the day before, depending how you look at it). Let me preface this story with the fact that I hardly slept a moment Monday night because I never do when a storm is coming through. I didn’t even bother staying in bed after 3 AM.

    Anyhow, I wanted to take advantage of the cooler weather to make a 10 pound batch of what’s now my “house” sausage. Having read the excellent suggestion to soak casings overnight in the refrigerator, I did just that with an entire hank of 30-32mm tubed hog casings. I knew that was far more casing that I needed, but I wanted to be overprepared since I was thinking about tacking on a 5 pound batch of something else if I got the chance.

    I got an early start in the morning and was all happy about how I would have the hard part done and the sausage in the smoker before my work day started to take off. “Excellent planning, Señor,” I said to myself. In fact, my lovely assistant and wife even asked about soaking the casings. I showed her the container in the fridge. “Already taken care of,” I said with a smug smile. “Already taken care of.”

    Everything could not have gone more smoothly . . . well . . . that is . . . right up to time to stuff. Something already was wrong. Why did I need a horn that was smaller than I thought I needed? Why doesn’t it look quite right? Why have I already had TWO frapping blowouts even though it looks like I’m UNDERstuffing these cotton-picking things, and I’m barely 2 pounds into the batch?!? Why am I RUNNING OUT OF CASING when I’m only about HALFWAY through this batch?!?!?!?!

    Well, it’s because I was using sheep casing instead of the 30-32mm hog casings I thought I had. My foggy brain didn’t notice that the day before, and my goofball self didn’t notice while loading the casings onto the horn or even while stuffing. I didn’t notice until I went to get more casing and saw what I thought I had was not what I had. Good grief. I would have sworn on our children’s immortal souls that I had grabbed the hog casings. Thank goodness no one asked me to!

    What should have taken about 10 minutes took about 2 hours. Fortunately, all is quite well. The sausage came out great (sheep and hog casing alike). We grilled some up for supper last night, and the rest is in the smoker this very moment.

    So, I learned a few things. First, accept or ask for help when your head isn’t on straight. Second, sheep casings suit the house sausage nicely should we ever care to use them again. Finally, check your stuff (measure twice; cut once)!

    Now, I know I’m not along. Own, up guys! Give us all a chuckle. We all need it!

    P.S., I didn’t bother making any more sausage. We went out to lunch. I had a beer or few.

  • Team Blue Dry Cured Sausage Admin Walton's Employee Canning

    TexLaw I like this idea and I’d say it is going to be a fun one to follow if your post is anything to judge the others by. As for me I have never officially made a mistake when meat processing but ALLEGEDLY someone once added sodium erythorbate to a 20 lb batch of Andouille he was making. Sodium Erythorbate is very potent, 7/8 of an oz is enough to act as a cure accelerator for 100 lb of meat. Well, as I was mixing the application specialist was in the room and he happened to look at the bottom of the mixer and noticed a small amount of crystals and said that “oh, that sucks all your erythorbate got stuck at the bootom” to which someone esle allegedly responded “oh no, I put WAY more than that in” They come in 1 lb bags and I may (or may not have) added the entire bag, which would have made it about 90X more erythorbate than it actually needed! Luckily I can confirm that no one ate it as the entire batch was scrapped.

    A few weeks later I took another run at an andouile video and everything went great, product was delicious and the shooting had gone smoothly, until I took a look at the videos and I was slightly out of focus for THE ENTIRE thing. So, that is why it took us a few years to make an andouile video!

    I have also cut parts of my fingers off MANY MANY times. I now make sure I wear a cut resistant glove when breaking down pork butts.

    Another great one was about 3 years ago Austin and I were trying to find other uses for the sausage stuffers and we wanted to see if they could be used as a press for apples to make apple juice. So we bought some cheese cloth and stuffed that into a stuffing tube and began cranking. Well the cheese cloth started coming out almost immediatly, so I kept cranking as Austin put his finger into the stuffing tube to keep the cheese cloth in there. Finally some juice started to come out, but not out of the end of the tube, but where the locking nut connects the tube to the stuffer. No problem, we just moved our container there and kept cranking. Austin said something to the effect of wow there is a lot of pressure there, it is pushing hard against my finger. Almost as soon as he said that his finger was pushed out and a mixture of the apple fiber and juice SHOT out of the stuffer! It hit the ceiling, the wall that was 15 feet away and went basically everywhere. There is still stains on one of our light covers from this escapade. Hardest Austin and I have laughed together, I actually lost control of my legs and fell into a chair I was laughing so hard and I beleive he had a coughing fit from it. Good times!

    I am sure there are other times that I allegedly made mistakes but nothing is coming to mind now. I will update this post as I think of others

  • Team Orange PK100 Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Regular Contributors

    Jonathon That “apple press” story is absolutely priceless! I would have paid real money to watch that.

  • Team Blue Dry Cured Sausage Admin Walton's Employee Canning

    TexLaw We did it directly in front of a camera too but we were testing so we didn’t record anything, kicked ourselves for that many times

  • Team Orange PK100 Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Regular Contributors

    Jonathon Oh, no! That’s a great “learning experience” in and of itself!

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