Questions & Answers

 

Ordering Seasoning

My meat is thawed, how soon can you get the seasoning shipped to me?

Order your seasoning before you take out your meat to thaw.  We do orders on a first come first serve basis to be fair to all customers.  Depending in the quantity of order we have that day we can usually have it shipped to you in 3 days.  If there are still ice crystals in the meat it can be refrozen and taken out when your seasoning arrives.

 

Sausage Making Questions

What type of sausage can I make using venison?

You can make any type of sausage you want using venison. It isn't the meat that makes the sausage, it's the spices.

Do I have to add pork or beef to my venison sausage?

Yes. Venison is a lean meat and without fat the meat would be dry. Fat makes the sausage juicy and adds flavor.

 

Grinding & Grinder Questions

What is the size of my grinder?

The grinder plates we carry are below - measure the diameter of your grinder plates and the center hole.

  • #8 Grinder- Plate measures 2-7/16” in diameter with a 3/8” center hole
  • #22 Grinder- Plate measures 3-1/4” in diameter with a 7/16” center hole
  • #32 Grinder- Plate measures 3-15/16” in diameter with a 1/2” center hole

Why does the meat coming out of the grinder look mushy?

I could be caused by the locking ring is not on tight or the knife on backwards.  If you are grinding a lot of meat you need to clean out all gristle and fat from the knife and plate often.  This will prevent the mushy grind and is easier on your grinder.

What is the best way to clean my grinder after using it?

Wash the grinder parts in hot water with dish detergent, making sure to get rid of all of the grease. Rinse thoroughly in hot water. Do not put in dishwasher.  Make sure the plates are completely dry, then coat with a food grade silicone lubricant, such as Silicone Lubricating Grease.

Why is the meat not grinding through the grinder plate?

Make sure there is not gristle or fat built up around the knife and plate. Your meat is too warm. Instead of cutting the meat, the grinder is ripping the meat and it's getting caught on the grinder plate causing a blockage. Before you start grinding, put the meat in the freezer to form ice crystals. Do not take out more meat than you can grind at one time.

 

Stuffing and Stuffers Questions

How do I use my stuffer?

First attach the appropriate stuffing tube to the stuffer. The size of the stuffing tube depends on the size of the casing being used—the casing should fit over the end of the stuffing tube without much difficulty. When using our 5, 15, or 25 lb. stuffers, first crank the handle all the way up, so the plate is above the cylinder.  Remove the cylinder and fill with your meat.  Firmly pack meat to prevent air pockets and replaced into the frame. Then crank the handle back down, forcing the meat into the casing.

How soon after I mix the sausage do I need to get it stuffed?

When salt, spices and other ingredients are added to the meat; the mixture will stiffen or “set up,” very much like cement. In this stage it becomes very difficult to push the mixture through your stuffer, and will cause unnecessary wear on the gears of a geared sausage stuffer.  We strongly recommend that the meat mixture be packed into the sausage stuffer right after it is mixed and then quickly stuffed into the casings while it is still easy to work with.

Should I wash the white grease off of the stuffer gears?

No, the grease you see is food grade grease and is not harmful if digested. The open gears on our 5 and 15 lb. stuffers should be lubricated after approximately every fifth or sixth use. Our 25 lb. stuffer also has a food grade lubricating grease on its gears and the flat bar that is attached to the platen. As with our 5 and 15 lb. stuffers, the flat bar should also be lubricated after approximately every fifth or sixth use.

How do I clean my sausage stuffer?

The stuffer cylinders and pistons should be washed with a mild dish detergent and hot water before the first use and after every subsequent use. Be sure to allow the stuffer and all parts to dry thoroughly before storing.

 

Smoking and Smokehouse Questions

How do I know when the meat is smoked?

You can identify that your meat is fully smoked by the distinctive color that develops as a result of the carbon compounds combining with the meat pigments. Also, the cures that are used will give smoked meat a red color.

What is the difference between using chips or sawdust during smoking?

Chips burn faster, sawdust will last longer.

How do I use the sawdust?

Sawdust or wood chips should be dampened. Dampened sawdust will burn for a longer period of time and will impart gentle flavors into the meat. To dampen, place sawdust in a bucket or bowl and squirt with a water bottle. Mix the sawdust as you add the water to make sure all of the sawdust is moistened. The amount of sawdust used greatly depends upon individual taste. Using one full pan is a good place to start, but you can use more if you desire a stronger taste.

Which flavors of sawdust/woodchips can I use?

The decision is based on personal taste. The most popular is hickory sawdust.  I like the fruit wood the best, it seems to have a less bitter taste than hickory or mesquite.

Can I use liquid smoke and still use my smoker?

Yes, you can. Just add liquid smoke as you mix seasoning with the meat. But be careful a little liquid smoke goes a long way.  Use recommended amount on the bottle.

Can I put more sausage in my smokehouse than suggested?

No. If overloaded, the time from start to finish will be greatly increased. Also, if the meat is touching there will be discoloration where the smoke was not able to penetrate the meat.  You are better off doing 2 smaller loads then one large batch.  DO NOT OVERLOAD SMOKER.

Why was there liquid on the bottom of my smokehouse after smoking?

Your temperature was too high and it melted the fat in the meat.

My sausage does not look good—it is shriveled. What do you think was the problem?

There could be several reasons for these results. The temperature may have risen too high.  The sausage may not have been showered with cold water immediately after it was finished smoking.  The sausage casings may not have been stuffed to their full capacity.  Try steam cooking.  This helps to prevent wrinkles and also help the casing from sticking to the meat.  It will speed up the cooking time.  Directions below:

 Steam Cooking Sausage

  • Steam cooking speeds up the process of the final cooking stage in sausage making.
  • Makes for a better wrinkle free sausage, using humidity as heat source instead of dry heat.
  • Take a full pan of water and bring to a full boil on stove.
  • Place boiling pan of water and put on heat source of smoker
  • Turn heat to high so to keep water at a FULL BOIL.
  • Close damper you want to keep humidity in smoker.
  • Make sure pan of water does not run out, add more boiling water.
  • Cook sausage to 150 degrees, this will take about half of regular cook time.
  • When sausage is cooked cold shower with cold water.

Most of my sausage has a nice mahogany color, but there are areas of white spots. Why?

The sausage needs to be dry to the touch before adding smoke.  If the sausage was touching during smoking, the smoke was not able to penetrate that area, leaving a white spot after smoking. There is no problem with your sausage.

 

Cure Questions

Why should I use cures?

Cures are primarily used to prevent botulism (food poisoning), as well as to impart flavor and some preservation to the sausage. The nitrite combines with the pigment of the meat to form a pink color as well as to flavor the meat. Only products that are smoked, cooked, or dry cured need a cure.

What is Sure Cure #1 made of?

Sure Cure #1 is made of a small amount of sodium nitrite on a salt carrier. (1 oz. of sodium nitrite is mixed with 1 lb. of salt.)

How much cure do I use?

1 oz. of sure cure to 25# of meat.

Can I reuse a brine?

No, brines cannot be reused. The juice of the meat dilute the brine solution and it becomes contaminated with bacteria.

 

Collagen Casing Questions

What are collagen casings made of?

Collagen casings are made from the hide of cattle.

Are collagen casings edible?

Yes, collagen casings are edible.

How do I prepare and store a collagen casing?

There is no preparation. Simply take them out of the packing and put them right onto the stuffing horn. There is no rinsing, soaking or mess. Keep these casings in the refrigerator when not in use. If casings are stored in the refrigerator at 30-50° F wrapped in plastic wrap they should last up to 2 years.

My collagen casings became dry. Is there anything I can do?

Dip the casing in tap water for a few seconds, this should bring them around. DO NOT SOAK! If they are still dry and brittle, then, unfortunately, they cannot be used.

Can I link sausage with collagen casings?

No. Collagen casings must be tied off as they will break if linked. However, natural casings can be used to make linked sausage.

 

Fibrous Casings

What are synthetic fibrous casings made of?

Synthetic casings are man-made with fibers running lengthwise which give them added strength.

Are synthetic casings edible?

No, these casings are not edible.

What are synthetic casings generally used for?

Synthetic casings are most commonly used for making pepperonis, beef sticks, bologna, cooked salamis, liverwurst, etc.

How do I prepare these synthetic casings for use?

Soak synthetic casings in tap water for 20-30 minutes. Make sure that the water gets inside the casing as well as covering the outside.

Why did my casing split?

The casing was either overstuffed or was insufficiently soaked. Also, the temperature of the smokehouse may be too high.

Why did my casing wrinkle?

The casing was either under stuffed or was not cooled fast enough after smoking.

 

Hog (Natural) Casings

How do I prepare a salted hog or sheep casing for stuffing?

Preparation should be completed as follows:

  • Remove casings from package and place in warm water to remove salt brine.
  • Put casing to faucet and slowly rinse warm water through casing.  This rinses excess brine from casing and makes it easier to put on stuffing horn.
  • Slide the casing over the horn.
  • During the course of stuffing, always try to keep the casing to the front of the horn where the meat is coming out. This helps eliminate air pockets and breakage.

Why do my hog casings have a strong odor?

Salted casings have a very long shelf life when stored properly. When refrigerated, packed liberally in purified salt, they have an indefinite shelf life. Un-refrigerated, these salted casings quickly begin to give off a strong odor even though they are not spoiled.

Can leftover casings be reused?

If you don't use all of the casings, they can be re-salted and kept in the refrigerator. Squeeze out as much water as possible. When fairly dry, sprinkle salt on the casings. DO NOT USE IODIZED SALT—PURIFIED SALT WOULD BE BEST.

Why are my casings tough?

By nature, natural casings can sometimes be tough. Rinsing and flushing (see above) help make a casing tender. However, here are some more suggestions from our sausage specialists:

When smoking sausage, do not put a stuffed sausage from the refrigerator into a hot smokehouse. The sausage should sit at room temperature for a couple of hours and then put into a warm smokehouse, gradually increasing the temperature until the desired smoking temperature is reached. Too much heat will almost guarantee that the casings will be tough.

Never put a sausage into boiling water. Instead, start cooking in cold water, bringing the temperature up gradually. The water should be brought to a boil and then simmered until the sausage is fully cooked.

 

Jerky Questions

What meat can I use to make jerky?

The leaner the meat, the better the flavor of your jerky will be and the faster it will dry. For either ground meat or jerky strips, use beef round, sirloin, venison, buffalo or elk.

For Ground Meat Jerky can I use meat that has been ground and frozen?

Yes, as long as you thaw it in the refrigerator and it was fresh meat when it was frozen.

Should I use cures when making jerky?

Yes you should use sodium nitrite. The cure helps prevent botulism which can easily be produced when drying meat at low temperatures.