Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to Grind Meat for Summer Sausage?

Craig from Coldwater, MI asked:

One or two grinds for summer sausage?

Hello Craig,

Summer sausage is a twice ground product, but the real secret is to mix very, very, very well. The reason we mix the product so much after grinding twice is to extract as much protein from the product as possible. This protein extraction will help to bind the product together and keep it from crumbling apart after you remove it from the smokehouse, it should slice more like a lunch meat. Also keep in mind to add enough water. This is a big problem when making large diameter products - it takes so long to get them up to temperature. If you don't have enough water in the batch, the product will just dry out. We just released a new Advanced Sausage and Jerky Processing DVD that would be well worth the watch. It sounds like you enjoy making your own items, so it's really worth having. There are way too many little tips and tricks to share by text here. Video is the way to go!

Thanks again and good luck!

Brad Lockwood

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Make Venison Hot Dogs

Ed M. from Connellsville, PA wrote:

I want to follow your directions for making venison hot dogs. In your video you use bacon ends for the fat. What ratio would I use? and my second question is how long do they stay in the smoker and at what temperature?

Thanks for your help.

Hello Ed,

Venison Hot Dogs are a tricky product to make, but if done correctly they are very tasty! Step one is to grind the meat fine enough, 4 times through the Weston fine grinder plate will work well. Step two is make sure you use enough non-fat dry milk or other equivalent binder along with your seasoning mix to keep the product nice and firm so the fat doesn't run out when it hits the heat in the smoker. Step three is to only smoke long enough to firm the product in the casing. No hotter than 160F and then use a CanCooker for the steam, or use a warm water bath, around 180F and place the dogs in the hot water until you reach a 156F internal temperature. If you are adding bacon ends or any type of fat content always remember the 80/20 rule. If you have 8lbs of good lean venison meat, add approximately 2lbs of fatty trim to get your 80/20 blend.

Good luck and I like mine with ketchup, mustard and onions! Enjoy.

Brad Lockwood

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking for a new Vacuum Sealer

Kathie C from Columbia, NC asked:

Looking for a nice vacuum sealer. Any advice?

Hello Kathie,

I do have some solid advice in that department. I have used the Weston 2300 series vacuum machine for years and it's a true commercial machine! I love it, lots of power and it keeps on going and going with no issues at all. I have also used the Weston Realtree model many times as well in the kitchen for packaging leftovers, marinating steaks and packaging bulk foods. I love all the canister attachments that are available for the Realtree model.

Really, when making your selection, it will depend on how much work you're going to do. If you are going to seal a couple hundred packages a year, I would go for the Pro-series machine. If you are just looking for kitchen use, I would get the Realtree model from Weston. They are both great machines! 

Thanks for the question Kathie.

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Tie Collagen Casings

Dave L from Kinston, NC asked:

How do you get collagen casing to stay twisted for links?

Hello Dave,

I have a pretty cool technique for doing exactly that! I first twist both links together, as you normally would and then feed the leg of one of the sausages up through the twisted links. This locks the twist in place and keeps the sausage from coming untwisted. I then measure off the next links and twist them together, then I feed the opposite leg up through the links keeping the sausages the same length.

The easiest way to demonstrate this is to show you in this snack stick processing video:

This same process is shown in great detail in our New Advanced Sausage & Jerky Processing DVD, this title is hot off the press and now available. The video will demonstrate the exact technique you are asking about so please watch and enjoy. If you need more information we have the Advanced Sausage and Jerky DVD for you. 

Thanks again and have a great hunting season!

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Can I Quarter Before Hanging to Age?

Stew wrote in:

I have watched your video every year to refresh my memory and have a question about the aging? After the skinning of the hide, you have taken a wet rag and torch to it, then hosed it down. Can you hose it down, quarter the game out then.

Thanks for the great question Stew,

Aging game meat is one of my favorite topics. Often times its the most important and most overlooked step in producing a quality product. When you age meat you allow the body moisture/heat to evaporate from the carcass, this changes the flavor so we can rid the carcass of the "nasty game tasting" flavor so often associated with wild game animals. The second thing that happens is the enzymes in the muscle tissue begin to break down the muscle proteins making a more tender product. If you allow both things to occur, body moisture evaporation and muscle tissue break down, you'll have a very enjoyable product. 

As a general rule I like to age animals 3 days for every 100lbs of carcass weight, that's an average. If the carcass has some body fat you can go longer but as a general rule you should age 3 days for every 100lbs. If the carcass is 150lbs then age 4-5 days. This is exactly the reason I created the Koola Buck Portable Walk in cooler system. So hunters would have a great way to hang and age their game animals whole without having a giant walk in cooler in their house that they will only use a few times each year.

The draw back of quartering the animal and then hanging it is the increase in surface area. When you hang a deer whole and age the meat, you will begin to notice the surface drying out and even becoming a little dark in color. This is why I say take an average of 4-5 days, you will get the body moisture out and the muscles will break down enough to have a tender product. If you age longer often times the flavor really doesn't change much and the muscles really don't get any more tender than they would after 4-5 days. 

What does occur though is the surface of the meat dries out so much that you end up trimming it off and tossing in away because its to dark in color and to dry to use. You'll have some dry trim and dark areas even after aging 4-5 days, but as you age longer, you get more waste and I really don't think the benefit is worth the waste. 

The problem with quartering the animal is now you have a lot more exposed area that's going to dry out causing additional waste. Now having said that, if I did not have a choice and could not hang the carcass whole, yes I would quarter and age the animal rather than not age it at all. You will have more waste but still have quality meat.

Thanks for the great question! One of my favorite topics!

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What Sized Meat Grinder is Best

Richard C wrote in:

I’m thinking about getting a Weston Commercial Meat Grinder, but I’m not sure which size to get. I usually take home about 4-5 deer a season. Thanks in advance for your help!!

Hello Richard,

Purchasing the correct size grinder is a pretty important detail that shouldn't be overlooked. If you were only processing one or two deer a year you would be fine with one of the #8 Electric grinders from Weston. If you are processing 3 or 4 a year you will need to step up to one of the pro model units like the #8 1/2HP Stainless pro series grinders. 

When you start talking 4-5 deer a year you really need to look at a #12 or #22 grinder to handle the volume of meat and to save time. To explain this in a little finer detail we need to talk about gristle, fat and sinew. Wild game meat, especially whitetail deer has a lot of connective tissue that we end up calling gristle and sinew, this tough chewy tissue gets wrapped around the blade of the grinder and slows the grinder down and even prevents the meat from coming out the head of the grinder, bigger grinders with larger heads allow you to grind for a longer period of time before you need to stop, take the head apart, clean the blade and plate, then reassemble the head and start grinding again. So along with overall speed and grinding power you also have the gristle issue to deal with so with all the reasons pilled together you will need one of the larger pro grinders to handle the volume you're talking about.

I hope this helps with the decision and once again, thanks for the great question.

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Can You Safely Sugar Cure a Venison Ham?

Sue H from Baldwyn, MS asked:

Can you sugarcure a deer ham like you do hog ham & it be safe to eat?

Hello Sue, 

Thanks for the question. Yes, you can cure venison hams in the same fashion that you cure pork hams I have actually produced a few videos on topics exactly like this one. I have videos that show the detailed processing of bone in Venison hams, boneless venison hams and Canadian Bacon made from the back straps. If you really want to expand your processing knowledge you check out my MasteringMarination DVD which deals with all these products. 

The actual step by step details are a little to detailed to layout in text but the videos are very instructional and I truly believe you will enjoy them. 

Thanks and good luck!

Brad Lockwood