Meat Processing Equipment 101 - Grinders
Meat Processing Equipment 101 Meat Grinders
Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
What Are The Main Functions?
The main function of a grinder is to take a whole muscle cut of meat and break it down into a ground format that can then be seasoned, cured, stuffed into a casing and then cooked.
How Do They Work?
Electric grinders have a hopper at the top where you load your meat that you are preparing to grind. The hopper has a hole in it that leads down to the throat of the grinder where an auger that is powered by the motor pushes the meat towards the plate and knife that will curt and grind your meat. The grinding knife goes behind the plate with the sharpened surface facing towards the plate, this cuts the meat and forces it through the holes of the grinding plate, the larger the holes on the grinding plate the faster your meat will grind and the coarser your product will be. Many products need to be ground twice, sometimes through a larger plate first and then through a smaller plate and sometimes twice through a larger plate.
How Important is it?
It depends on what type of meat you will most often be starting with. If you are going to be starting with whole muscle cuts then it is the most important piece of equipment that you can have! Other than a Bowl Chopper, which is an expensive commercial piece of equipment, will allow you to take a whole piece of meat and break it down into a ground product.
Like we said above, a Bowl Chopper will offer you similar functionality but the cost makes them unreasonable for the home processor. The main alternative to a Meat Grinder is to purchase already ground meat. If you want to make snack sticks you can buy ground pork, seasoning and cure it and then use a Sausage Stuffer to stuff it into casings.
Should You Buy One
If you are choosing between a grinder and stuffer to make meat sausage at home I would say a wild game processor should go with the grinder as it will allow them to break down the carcass and stuff and the person using beef or pork should get a sausage stuffer and buy pre-ground meat from the store.
Best Choice For Beginners
The Weston #12 750 Watt Meat Grinder is a nice choice for beginners as it gives you a medium-sized plate, with a powerful enough motor to break down larger cuts while staying under $200.
Grinders come in different sizes with different grinding capacities, the number associated with the grinder corresponds to the size of the head assembly as well as the plate and knife you can use with that grinder. Standard sizes are #5, #8, #10 and 12 which are the same size, #22 and #32. A #5 grinder will use a plate that is 2-1/8" in diameter and generally has the ability to grind around 2-3 lb of meat per minute under ideal circumstances.
A larger grinder like a #32 grinder will use a plate that is 3-15/16" in diameter and something like the Weston #32 Pro Series can grind upwards of 18 lb a minute. The power on a meat grinder also plays an important role in how many lb a minute it can process and how long it can be run for. Power can range from 500 watts on a small #5 up to 2 horsepower for the Weston Pro #32 series. The amount of horsepower is important as this is what drives the auger in the head assembly and more power means you can grind faster and use larger chunks of meat saving you processing time.
Some meat grinders do have the ability to act as sausage stuffer as well as a grinder. You can switch out the plate and knife for a star stuffing adapter, attach a stuffing horn and stuff your ground product into casings or meat bags. While the stuffing capability is a nice thing to have it is much harder and will take longer to stuff with your grinder versus using an actual sausage stuffer. Because of the pressure required to stuff a product into smaller casings meat grinders will not work on anything smaller than a bratwurst or hotdog sized product.
Both plates and knives are available in both disposable and sharpenable versions. Disposable should be used until they are dull and then thrown out, sharpenable plates and knives can be sent into Walton’s and we will sharpen them for a small fee. These types of plates and knives are more expensive initially but it is much cheaper to have us sharpen them than buy new ones, plus they are made to a higher quality and will give you a better-finished product. You can see the difference between a disposable and sharpenable knife just by looking at it, the disposable will look like a pinwheel and just has a flat edge, the sharpenable knife has a quality piece of steel on each arm that sticks up from the body.
Specialty Sausage 102: Making Lebanon Bologna
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!What Is Lebanon Bologna?
Lebanon Bologna was originally made by the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1800’s. Traditionally it is a dark bologna, similar to salami in appearance and texture and it has a tangy flavor. It is often eaten as cold cuts and it can be slow cured and cold smoked or smoked using more modern methods. We are going to be making a version today that will not be slow cured or cold smoked as that makes it more difficult for the average home user.Meat Block
If you can you should cut the fat off of your pork and grind your pork fat separately through a 3/16th plate twice. Then grind your beef and lean pork through a 3/8 plate and then through a 1/8 plate. Keep ground pork fat separate. Making sure EVERYTHING but especially your pork fat is cold before you grind it is very important here for particle definition.Meat Mixing
Place lean meat in the mixer. While mixing add Lebanon Bologna seasoning, Sure Cure and Ice Cold Water. Mix for 5 minutes. Add ground fat trim, sodium erythorbate and mix for 3 more minutes. Lastly, if you are using Encapsulated Citric Acid add it during the last 60 seconds of mixing. If you add the Encapsulated Citric Acid too soon you could break the encapsulation and release the acid into the meat too soon.Sausage Stuffing
Stuff your meat into fibrous casings that have been soaked for at least an hour in water that is 80 - 100° so the casings are pliable. These casings are tough and durable so don’t worry about blowouts just stuff them fully but make sure to leave enough room to get a hog ring on the open end. When stuffing larger diameter casings it is important to choose the largest of the stuffing tubes that your casing will fit over and make sure you are gripping it nice and tight, we want these casings packed nice and solid.Note
You can also use Fibrous or Non-Edible Collagen casings, we chose this as it had the capacity we wanted and it presented the product well.Thermal Processing & Smoking
To smoke start them out with 125 for 1 hour, then 140 for 1 hour then 165 for an hour and finally at 180 until the internal temperature reaches 155°.Cooling
Place it in an ice bath or shower for 20 minutes to bring the temperature back down and then hold at room temperature for 2 hours and then move to a cooler or freezer before vacuum packing. I let this sit in a refrigerator overnight before slicing to make sure the temperature was brought all the way down.Wrap up
All in all, this is very similar to making a salami or even a summer sausage, the main differences are separating out the pork fat from your lean and using the correct ratio, seasoning, and casings. The fried Bologna sandwiches were very good!Additional Tips Removing the fat cap before you break down your pork butt is easier sometimes, it all depends on how it looks before you start cutting into it. I put very little smoke on this as I didn’t want that to dominate the taste so I filled my smoke tray about 1/4 of the way full. I am glad I did it this way as it allowed for the Lebanon taste to come through more. Other Notes
I added X-Tra Hot Red Pepper to this to help give it a nice zip and to cut some of the sweetness. I used it at a ratio of 3 oz per 100 lb of meat and since I was doing 10 lb that means I used .3 of an oz.Watch WaltonsTV: Specialty Sausage 102: Making Lebanon Bologna Shop waltonsinc.com for Cured Sausage Seasoning Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Grinders Shop waltonsinc.com for High-Temp Cheese
Specialty Sausage 101: What is Specialty Sausage?
Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!What is Specialty Sausage?
As much as you might love bratwurst, summer sausages and snack sticks sometimes you want a sausage that is a bit more unique. It might be a recipe you tried once in another country, one that your grandparents used to make or something just sounds really exotic like blood sausage. Recipes and knowledge of how to make these types of sausage are often passed down from generation to generation.
For whatever reason, these types of sausages have fallen out of favor and are sadly relegated to the specialty stores of the home processor. Maybe opinions have changed on the type of meat used, the way it is cooked or the seasoning or spices used in the original seasoning. The good thing about this is it gives you the opportunity to “rediscover” plenty of types of amazing sausages.Types of Meat Required
Sourcing the meat might be a little harder for this than a normal sausage but a quality butcher should easily be able to get you pork liver, trim and even pork blood that you will need to make some of these. Others like Lebanon bologna and some landjaeger only require a mix of pork and beef and a special seasoning.Casings
Many specialty sausages will also require a special or a specific casing to be used. Braunschweiger has a special plastic casing specifically for the production of that product and others like landjaegar simply require that you use a natural casing like hog or sheep intestine.Smoking
Smoking and cooking will also be different with a lot of these sausages, a normal smoke schedule might not work for your needs on these products. We will be making Landjaegr, Lebanon Bologna and Blood Sausage in the 10’s and then go for some even more out there products in the advanced classesShop waltonsinc.com for Jerky Seasonings Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for Weston Dehydrator 160L Pro Series
Weekly Blog Post - PreThanksgiving & Specialty Sausage
Find out what's going on at Walton's and Meatgistics this week. We will have a loose schedule for soon to be released videos, what we are working on long-term and maybe a few quick tips and tricks that are on our mind!What Videos are being released soon?
We just released our Pre Thanksgiving Sales that will be good through Friday so you should absolutely check that out. You will also see that we have reduced shipping on orders over $5 all week.
ThanksBlackMonday - This is the “fun” video that we do every year! This year we split it into thirds so the first round of sales will be good from 11/19-11/26, the second round starts on Black Friday (11/22) and ends on Cyber Monday and the third round is Cyber Monday only!
Specialty Sausage 101 & 102 - In these two videos we will be going over specialty sausage as a category and then showing you detailed steps on making Lebanon Bologna. Ours came out amazing so if you are planning on making any this year watch the video for some tips on how to make a delicious Lebanon Bologna!What Projects are we looking ahead at?
Specialty Sausage 103: Landjaeger - We made Landjaeger or a version of it at least! It came out tasting excellent but the appearance wasn’t exactly what we were going for, for more details keep an eye out for this video in the next few weeks.
Specialty Sausage 104: Blood Sausage - We haven’t made this year and it is going to have to wait until at least after Thanksgiving but hopefully we will get to it soon! We are excited about this as it’s a true odd-ball in America and we want to see if we can make some improvements to it!What’s on our Mind?
It is almost Thanksgiving time and I’m going home for the first time in years! Like everyone else, I am excited to see family and friends and eat delicious food! Don’t forget to take a few minutes this Thanksgiving to really concentrate on what you are thankful for. For me, a huge thing I am thankful for is this job, I really love what I do here! I mean, who wouldn’t love talking, filming and answering questions about meat processing all day!New Products
The Talsa K50 Bowl Chopper and the Talsa K80 Bowl Chopper are two brand new choppers from Talsa. These are large commercial pieces of equipment that allow you to do everything from a rough chop to an emulsification of your meat products. Either of these machines will work on everything from pulled pork to hot dogs!
Just so you know, in case you were looking for it and couldn’t find it, the ingredients are listed on the products web page. Just scroll down and click the “Additional Info” tab and it will show up.
The W Summer (4550300082) might be the most mild of all the ones you listed. That doesn’t make it bad at all just a very mild flavor
Summer 107 (4550300032) Similar to H, contains mustard seed but I don’t think it is whole.
Summer Sausage Seasoning (4550300012) Very similar to the 107 in flavor, has whole mustard seed.
H - Summer (G4550300070) is our best selling Summer Sausage Seasoning, contains whole mustard seed. If you are looking for a peppery seasoning this is the best one to use for a base and add some black pepper. This would be the basic summer seasoning favored by most employees and customer.
Another option, if you are making 100 lb batches or don’t mind breaking down the seasoning into smaller batches, would be the Ton’s Summer Seasoning (4550806642) It has a very good flavor and is pretty peppery if I remember correctly, I pepper is listed higher in the ingredients list than any of the others… Of all of the basic Summer Sausage seasonings (excluding ones like Jalapeno and Habanero BBQ) this is the second best scoring one amongst employees.
@tincuptom i can only speak to the H summer sausage seasoning, but it has a lot better taste than the backwoods. Not a lot of pepper (you could add more I am sure) but it is a good solid flavor profile. I did not use the ECA for the tang, but plan on doing it this week in a batch. You can’t go wrong with the H seasoning!
I have been in search for a summer sausage seasoning with black pepper but couldn’t find one. I’m new at this so the H Summer Sausage is the only one I have used so I can’t give you any comparisons with the other 3, but you mentioned black pepper so thought I would share my first experience.
So I used Waltons H Summer Sausage and mixed in about a quarter cup of fine black pepper. I liked the results and several others did as well. It had a light pepper taste and I probably will add a little more in the next batch for a slightly stronger flavor. I used 25 lbs of venison and 4lbs of beef fat to keep it on the leaner side. Good luck, Bob