Top 5 Health Benefits of Processing your Meat at Home

  • Walton's Employee

    Bratwurst platter

    Health Benefits of Processing your Meat at home

    Homemade Bacon

    It is well-known that eating meat products can provide many health benefits and nutrients in our diets. However, many times we are shopping at the grocery store we do not stop and look at what is in a meat product, what the fat ratio is, or what the proportions are. We simply grab an item off the shelf and go on our way. Making homemade sausage, jerky, snack sticks, summer sausage, hams, bacon, and so many other meat products can be done easily at home in a healthier process without sacrificing taste or flavor, and many times you can improve or customize the flavor to fit your distinct palate. Here are our top five reasons why you should begin taking control of what goes into your meat products and making your own homemade sausage, jerky, and other meat snacks from home.”

    #1. You control what goes into your product.

    You have probably heard the saying that if you enjoy sausage you don’t want to see how it’s made. This saying is referring to the questionable portions of the cow or pig that processors used to put into sausages (cheeks, lips, etc.), this is not as much of an issue now but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still learn something from this saying. One of my main issues with purchasing a snack stick, summer sausage or other type of processed meat product at the grocery store are the ingredients. When I make my bratwursts or snack sticks at home I control exactly what is going into them, for example I know my chicken brats have 100% chicken breast along with carrot fiber, no other fillers and no preservatives, so if I am tracking my calories its super simple to do. I know the nutritional value of each and every brat, same goes for anything I make out of pork butt or shoulder. I control how much fat, cheese and salt goes into each one and I know that all premium ingredients were used, no old or questionable meat was processed into my food.

    #2. Conscientiously Consuming Calories.

    Something interesting happened when I started making more and more of my own food, I started to become much more conscious of exactly how many calories were in everything I was eating, whether I bought it at the grocery store, ordered it at a restaurant our made it myself. When I started doing this I had three basic goals for everything I made, I wanted options that had a good balance of taste to calories, a healthy fat content and I wanted everything to be easy to make. Now I weigh the health versus taste benefits of almost everything I put into my body. Even meat snacks I make myself I’ll find myself asking do I really need to add 20% pork fat to this venison sausage or can I get away using a binder, is the pork fat going to make it that much better? Or, if I’m already making a pork brat, do I really need to add cheese and therefore more fat to this? Asking yourself these questions is important, they can be a great way to balance the calories with the taste of the product.

    #3. Paying attention to portion sizes.

    Another thing I hate about buying meat products from the store are the portions. For example, if I bought two store store brand bratwursts, each one is 4 ounces but I only really need to eat 6 oz to fill my nutritional and hunger needs…well if I make two Brats then two Brats are what I am going to eat! Those other 2 ounces that I did not need or even particularly want but still ate are the reason most of us are carrying around 5, 10 or more pounds than we should be. It is also the main reason why I make my homemade brats into smaller portions. I use 28 mm casings, which is smaller diameter than the 32 mm you normally use, and I make them shorter than what you see in the store. You wont even notice it being thinner than the store bought kind and with them shorter and thinner you can probably have 3 of those instead of 2 store bought ones. Your brain will see that third one and be convinced you are getting more even if the total weight you consume is the same or even less.

    #4. You’ll have more fun!

    Processing your own food can make healthy eating fun! I know that sounds like an oxymoron but we have an incredibly wide variety of seasonings available at, have you ever seen a Habanero Mango, Supreme Pizza or Reuben Flavored bratwurst in your supermarket? Processing at home allows you try out all sorts of flavors that you would otherwise never have access to. It took us a long time to find out which seasonings worked best with chicken for brats or to marinate extremely lean beef in but we made sure we kept notes on what worked and what did not and ended up having a great time. There is also a great feeling of pride that comes from people saying that your sausages taste better than what they buy at the store!

    #5. It will keep you active.

    Instead of just plopping down money at the store for something someone else went through the effort to make you will be the one cutting, grinding and stuffing. This might not burn a ton of calories in an of itself but staying active is almost always healthier than laying around on the couch right?

    Homemade Burger

    Healthy ingredient Hamburger

    Camping Snacks

    Jerky, Brats and Snacksticks

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  • @scottwaltner i too used to have that same problem until I made my mix about 30 percent fat added non fat powder milk for a binder and mixed till it gets good and sticky and then the rest cooking temp and water shower @ end.

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  • S

    @parksider I am using fibrous casings and soaking in warm water for alt least 30 minutes. I mixed the meat, 20 pounds for about 12 minutes. The casings were tight when I was stuffing them. I was processing at 125 for 1 hour, 140 for 1 hour, 155 for 2 hours and 170 until the internal was 165. I water bathed them, forgot to hang them over night, but just put them in the refrigerator. I didn’t take the internal temp after I water bathed them.
    The outside of the sausage does not appear fatty and the flavor is great.

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  • Ive been wrong many times before lol! But i dont feel like it would turn out super good unless you found a seasoning mix that would blend well with the bacon taste which might take some nasty sticks to figure it out. Possibly willies snack stick from waltons might be ok… if you do this please let us know how it turns out. Commercially seems like a bit of a bad thing, the cost of bacon/pork fat is huge. Profit margin would be horrid!

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  • @scottwaltner i agree with parker on a few things. You always need to soak your fibrous summer sausage casings for sure! At least 30 minutes if you got time. Also you dont want the casings to stick too much to the meat either though. Fine line there. I think maybe you need to mix the meat longer for that protein extraction would be the main thing. Also you want to stuff those casings about as tight as you can with out exploding, but those casings are tough. What temperature is the summer sausage after cooling them down?

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  • C

    I want to make fresh not smoked nitrate free Hot Dogs. After stuffing I am hot bathing them to 160. These are all beef I must add. What can I use to keep the color so they don’t end up grey looking and have that nice pink color?

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  • P

    Very similar process. Try dividing the spice into 1/3’s. Rub 1/3 on each day for 3 days. Yes it’s very thin, doesn’t take much. Local hardware store had crocks on sale so i got 2. I rub, and rotate each day.
    After day 3, rotate each day for 5 more days. If it’s cold out i leave on the floor in my garage, if not it goes in the fridge-great either way just depends on weather.
    Hang one day-i never rinse. Cold smoke (100F) for 6 hours. rest overnight, cold smoke for 6 more hours. Rest overnight.
    I like mine to be a deep cherry color, that’s how i determine when to stop smoking. If it’s not that rich cherry color, smoke it more! Then rest it for 3 days and slice. We slice it on a slicer so i get super thin slices. Uncle Cecil said slice it thin enough that you can read the paper through it!
    One tip-Walton’s has the little drying pouch that’s in the store bought jerky, They are cheap and make it last forever in the fridge or freezer. I also vacuum seal to 98% with the chamber vac or it get too hard. Here is a pic of what I’m looking for. The fellas have named this George Washington Jerky. It was the only way i could explain it to them before i made it. Told them we were going VERY old school, and now they love it!


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