Thursday, February 28, 2013

Freezer Paper

Whitney from Abilene, TX asked

I just started butchering my own meats and as such, I've bought some Weston Freezer Paper. Can you explain to me just how this is supposed to keep my meat fresh? Should I do anything to the meat before I wrap it up in this paper? How long do you think it will keep my meat fresh in the freezer? Should I be using something else instead? Thanks!


Thank you for a great question not often asked! I have used freezer paper for many, many years... That is, before the modern vacuum packaging machines came along. Don't get me wrong: freezer paper works very well - you simply have a few additional steps.

When using only freezer paper, I package for short term usage within a 2-4 month time frame. To extend and ensure quality, I will often pre-wrap the product with plastic wrap to help push the air out and create a double barrier. When you use freezer paper, be sure to tuck the ends in tight to the product and be certain to push out all the air you can, as air is what causes off-flavors and freezer burn on your products.

With a vac machine, you pull all the air out and the bags are very thick (assuming you use the right brand), so keeping meats frozen with no issues is easy for 8-12 months. I recommend using the Weston Pro 2300 Vacuum Sealer with Weston Vac Bags.

Good luck and thanks for the great question!

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making Snack Sticks with BBQ Sauce

Todd from Fremont, IN wrote in:

I bought all the equipment to make summer sausage and snack sticks. I have had barbeque snack sticks made at my local butcher shop. When I try to make them the taste is good but I have to add so much BBQ sauce that the meat loses its consistency and just kind of melts in your mouth. Do they make a powdered BBQ that would eliminate this issue?

Great question Todd!!

I love these type of questions! Here's what's happening to your product... BBQ sauce contains vinegar. Vinegar breaks down muscle fibers. So by mixing BBQ sauce into your meat, the vinegar breaks down the already-ground meat even more and creates mushy mud pies!

Yes, there is an answer and you are correct, the answer is powdered BBQ flavoring which is available most anywhere. Look for a good smokey BBQ rib rub and start experimenting with small batches, be sure to portion the seasonings accurately each time so you know exactly how much you have added. Don't simply sprinkle it on and take a guess - measure the seasonings using a measuring cup or teaspoon to get an accurate measurement of seasonings. This way, if your first small batch doesn't have enough flavor you can always add more or less in the future.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out for you!

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Adding Fat to Wild Game Products

Tom from Greenfield, Ma. asked:

When making burgers from venison, what's the best fat and ratio to mix in?


The type of fat I mix with my product depends on the product I'm making. If I'm making hamburger, which is generally an all-beef product, I will add beef fat. If I'm making sausage, which is a pork-based product, I will add pork fat. This keeps the flavor and texture more inline with the product you are used to eating. If I'm making a smoked product, I follow the same theory. If I'm making brats, I will add pork because they are a pork-based product, if I am making snack sticks or ring bologna, I will use beef because these are generally a beef-based product.

I prefer to add 50/50 beef or pork trim to my products rather than 100% back fat. The reason I do this is to lessen the degree of error. When you use a product that is 100% fat, if you add a little too much, it can be WAY to much. If you don't add enough, you won't even know it's in there. With a 50/50 product you can be off on your ratio a little and the product is still going to be fine. When I say 50/50, I mean a blend of 50% lean beef or pork mix rather than a 100% fat mix. Some hunters will mix in straight pork butt which is very lean, up to 80% lean. In my opinion, this takes away from the aspect of actually eating game meat - it now becomes pork with a little deer mixed in. I hope this helps and below I will list some ratios for you.

50/50 trim: I add 6lbs of venison and 4lbs of 50/50 to make a 10lb batch of product
100% fat: I add 8lbs of venison and 2lbs of fat for a 10lb batch of product

Good luck Tom and thanks for the question!

"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood