Cured Sausage 102 - Equipment Needed For Cured Sausage
Cured Sausage 102 - Equipment Needed For Cured Sausage.
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What is the Most Important Piece of Equipment?
This depends on how you get your meat. If you are a hunter then a Meat Grinder will be the most important as you will be starting with large whole muscle cuts. If you buy meat at the store then it is easy to buy already ground meat, and that meat will almost always be ground twice at the meat packing plant. I personally think that both a Stuffer and Grinder are needed to make a quality cured sausage product as unlike with Fresh Sausage you will have to get some protein extraction during the mixing process. This means your meat will be stickier and more bound together which will make using the stuffing function of your meat grinder much more difficult. Still though, because you need to grind twice and because in theory, you could still use your grinder to stuff with I will say a Meat Grinder is still the most important piece of equipment.
Do You Still Need A Sausage Stuffer?
Absolutely you should be using a sausage stuffer when making cured sausage. The time it will take you to stuff off of a meat grinder will be many times longer than it would take with a sausage stuffer. The stuffer will also give you a more uniform and evenly filled product than a grinder will, not to mention the unnecessary wear and tear you are putting on your meat grinder.
As a final point, many Meat Grinders do not come with an attached small enough to allow you to make smaller diameter products like a snack stick.
Do You Need A Meat Mixer
Yes, a Meat Mixer is a very important tool when making cured sausage. This brings me back to one of my favorite topics, Protein Extraction. Protein extraction is what allows the fat, meat, and water to all bind together and stay bound during the cooking process. Because we are going to smoke these for long periods of time at lower temperatures the fat will render out of the meat during the cooking process, this will cause a host of problems with your finished product such as overly dry casing, shrinkage, and lack of taste to name just a few.
Best Grinder For Beginners
The Weston #8 Meat Grinder - Black or the Weston #12 750 Watt Grinder are both good entry level grinders that will allow you to stuff larger diameter casings as well. These grinders work best for smaller batches (5-10 lb) and need to be allowed to cool down and not run for more than 5 minutes. If you are looking for the next step up both the Butcher and Pro Series Grinders are capable of handling heavier duties.
$500 Budget for Equipment
If I have $500 to purchase my equipment to make Fresh Sausage I would buy a 7 lb Sausage Stuffer for $160, a 20 lb Meat Mixer for $110. This leaves you with $230 making the Weston #12 750 Watt Meat Grinder the best grinder at that price point. The other option would be to break the budget (or save up!) and get a Weston Butcher #8 $329.99 or #12 for $399.99.
Other Equipment Or Supplies
- You will also need a Smoker at some point, these products can still be cooked in an oven or on a grill but a smoker will give you a better tasting and more appealing product.
- For Summer Sausage, and a few other products as well, you will need a way to close the casings. The Auto Load Hog Ring Plier is a cost-effective way to do this. For a commercial application the Max Pac or the Bag and Casing Clipper.
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