Fresh Sausage 106 - Basic Bratwurst Processing
Fresh Sausage 106 - Basic Bratwurst Processing
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
What Is Bratwurst?
Fresh sausage can be made from pork, beef, wild game, poultry or really any type of meat. One of the best things about making fresh sausage is how easy it is to make, of all the sausage you can make at home fresh sausage is the easiest and requires the least amount of equipment. Another great thing about Bratwurst is the wide variety of flavors of seasoning that are available. This article will focus on how to make Bratwurst, but this same process will also cover Italian Sausage and Mexican Chorizo.
The first thing we need to do is break this down into pieces that our grinder can handle, we are using the Weston #12 Butcher series grinder so we need to make the pieces small enough to fit down the throat, the larger your grinder is, the larger pieces it can handle. Grind the meat through a 3/16" plate twice, the second grind will be slower than the first one. If you want to grind once, then mix in your seasoning and grind again that is fine as well. We prefer to do the mixing and the grinding separately though. If you are making this out of venison and you want to add some pork or even beef fat grinding it in at this point is a good idea.
Since this is a fresh product we are not concerned with protein extraction which means you can mix this with your hands if you choose, a meat mixer might still make it easier for you. To make stuffing easier you can add 1 pint of cold water per 25 lb batch (or if you are making chorizo add 1/2 pint of cold water and 1/2 pint of 50 grain white distilled vinegar), your seasoning and hi-temp cheese (if you are using any) We are using 6 oz of Excalibur’s Apple bratwurst seasoning and 1 lb of cheddar cheese since we are making a 10 lb batch. Mix until all the seasoning and additives have evenly dispersed into the meat.
We are using a 30mm collagen casing for this as it works well for both Italian Sausage and Bratwursts and the 22mm stuffing tube that comes with Walton’s stuffers. If you want to use a 32mm collagen or hog casing that is perfectly fine, just make sure that if you are using hog casings that they have been rinsed and soaked. For beginners, I recommend using collagen as it is one less thing to worry about. Next, slide your casings onto the stuffing tube.
Now, load your stuffing canister making sure to pack it down between loads to eliminate air pockets. Once your stuffer is loaded begin cranking it down using the bottom gear. Try to keep an even and steady pressure throughout. While one person cranks, another person should be down at the tube end holding the casing lightly enough that the casing flows off of the tube with the meat but with enough force that the casing is filled. Or it can be done by yourself, it might help you to clamp your stuffer down to the table if you are doing it without anyone else. Collagen casings will do better if they are just slightly under-stuffed.
To twist these we are going to pinch down about 5" and twist in one direction, then pinch down 5" from that and twist in the same direction, or you can skip a link and twist in the opposite direction.
Thermal Processing & Smoking
Grill at medium heat until the internal temperature is 160°. If you try to cook them at too high of a heat you run the risk of your casing splitting.
If you want to vacuum pack your bratwurst make sure you put it in the freezer for a while first. If you try to vacuum pack fresh sausage without it being frozen the pressure from the chamber will crush your sausage and it will lose the classic shape.
Making Homemade Bratwurst is a great way to get into making your own sausage. It requires very few pieces of equipment, has a wide variety of flavors available and you don’t need a complicated cooking schedule if you can grill a Hot Dog you can grill a Bratwurst!
- You could make this with either just a grinder or just a stuffer. If you buy already ground meat you can mix in seasoning by hand and then stuff it into casings, if you are starting with whole muscle you can break it down with a grinder and then stuff it with the grinder as well.
- Always make sure the grinder plates and knives are well oiled and in good condition.
This same will also cover Italian Sausage and Mexican Chorizo, just add some 50-grain white vinegar (if desired) with Mexican Chorizo.
Watch WaltonsTV: Basic Bratwurst Processing
I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.
Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.
Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??
Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.
@Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.
One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.