Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to "Bleed" Your Ground Venison

Mike of Colgate, WI asked:

I recently saw an episode of Love of the Hunt on which you were making jerky. I was wondering how you "bleed" your ground venison. Mine always comes out super bloody and hard to work with. Is this covered in your butchering videos? Thank you.

Hello Mike!

Thanks for the great question. The answer is in "Dry Aging" I always hang my game meat a minimum of 3 days for every 100lbs of carcass weight. A good example would be If the hanging weight of my deer carcass is 150lbs then I always hang and age the carcass or quarters for at least 5 full days. This allows all that "Gamey flavor" body moisture and "blood" to evaporate out of the carcass. The second key thing that happens during the dry aging process is the proteins in the muscles begin to break down allowing the meat to become nice and tender. This entire process is called Dry Aging and it makes the meat so much better in flavor and texture! It also eliminates the "bloody" meat you asked about. This is the exact reason why I created the Koola Buck Portable Walk in Cooler. With this product you have a great way to hang and age your meat properly. The Koola Buck portable walk in coolers are perfect for hunters, they set up or tear down in 10 minutes, they're small and light weight for easy transportation and the commercial refrigeration system pulls the body heat form the carcass producing a great wild game meat without the headaches of storing and maintaining a giant walk in cooler in your house! Check them out at

If you really want to get technical about it you can use Koola Bucks Anti Microbial game bags and keep the surface of your meat moist in the game bags as well as reduce the growth of surface bacteria during the aging process. With this combination you can age for 2 weeks or more making an amazing product for you and your family to enjoy! Aging meat properly is the most important and most overlooked part of preparing quality game meat for your table. You can be the best chef on the planet but if you start with a bad piece of meat you'll have a rough time making a good finished product. Age your meat properly and you will be amazed at the difference!

God Bless and thanks for the great question!

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wrinkled Casings When Making Homemade Sausage

Dave of Elkridge, MD asked:

I make a lot of bologna and sausages and would like to know if you have any idea why my products stick to the inside casings. Also: When I take out the sausages, they are terribly wrinkled. Help!

Hello Dave,

Thanks for the great question and I believe I have the answer! Water..... Most home processors don't add enough water to the meat block during the grinding and mixing process. 

Here are the facts: Your smoker will steal 12-15% moisture from your product no matter what you do. Adding a pan of water to the smoker helps create some additional humidity in the smokehouse cabinet, but that still won't stop all the evaporation from occurring. If you know your smoker will steal 12-15% , the best thing to do is give it to it! Add it in while grinding and mixing. I'll typically add 3% water to the meat block when I add the seasonings. I do this to help mix and blend the seasonings. If I grind the product a second time, I'll add another 3% before the second grind. After I've finished grinding I finish adding the rest of the water, mix and then let stand unit the water is absorbed into the meat. Last but not least, stuff and smoke. The reason your meat is sticking to the casing and wrinkling so bad is because you don't have enough moisture in the meat to start with. When making a smoked sausage product, no matter if you grind it once or twice, be sure to soak in 12-15% good cold water before stuffing and you will notice an amazing difference in your smoked items. 

One side note, remember this is only for smoked products, not fresh sausage products that are not smoked.

Good luck Dave, add the additional water and you'll cure the problem.

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Stuffed Back Strap How To

Craig Newnam of Fort Worth, TX wrote:

You had a show on stuffed back strap, but I did not see it. Could you post the recipe? 

Hello Craig,

Here is the Stuffed Venison BackStrap segment:

You can make some great products from wild game meats if you just think outside the box a little bit. I made a crown roast from a bone in backstrap once that was a big hit! Oftentimes, I inject my backstraps, marinate for a day and then grill them whole just like prime rib, slice medium rare and serve. Shayna Bane with Weston Brands has some great wild game recipes that you may want to check out as well:

Thanks Craig and have a great hunting season.

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How to Make Canadian Bacon from Venison Backstrap

Travis from Hancock, MD wrote in:

Watched your marination video. How do you make the Canadian bacon you mentioned in the video?

Hello Travis,

The process of injecting venison backstraps to make Canadian bacon is very similar to the video segments that you watched for making cured and smoked venison hams. Mix your brine and inject every inch all over the product. The muscle tissue will only hold so much liquid and the rest will run out. The only change that I typically make is to increase the salt content of the brine. Typically the brine for bacon contains more salt than that of a ham, however you can use the ham recipe as a base formula and just add some additional salt to give it that bacon flavor. I would recommend increasing the salt content of a standard ham brine by 4% and that should give you that salty flavor you've come to know and love in a bacon type product. Follow the brine directions for hams, smoke the product in the same fashion you normally would and you'll have a great product.

Thanks for the question and good luck! Let me know how it turns out!

Brad Lockwood

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How to Make Low-Sodium Sausage

Greg wrote in:

I ordered the advanced game processing library & learned a lot. Is there a way to make sausages, summer sausages and the like with no sodium or very little sodium? Due to my health, I had to go to a no/low salt diet.

Hello Greg,

Have you ever heard of Nutra Salt?

I've used this product many times for low sodium recipes and it works very well. There are cooking recipes that allow you to use different fruit juices to increase salt flavor without increasing sodium drastically, but in meat products you can't do this because the acid from the fruits breaks the protein bind in the meat and your product will turn to mush. Take a look at the Nutra Salt product and I think you will find that it works very well for providing salt flavor without the high sodium content and it also comes with other various flavors that make it pretty interesting! The spicy Cajun works well in jerky products!

Good luck Greg and thanks for the question.

Brad Lockwood

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