First timer problems

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by jbraas, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. jbraas

    jbraas Fire Starter

    Ok, so the sausage posts on here inspired me to try giving making them a shot.

    I have made two attempts so far and have had problems both times. Both attempts were for a hot Itlaian sausage.

    This last try started out a little better, but I had one issue that I think I have narrowed down to either my meat or how i am trimming it.

    Basically it started out nicely, but then the meat started comming out almost like a paste - sort of like hot dog inside.

    Part of the fat is catching in the die and clogging things up. When I disassemble I sort of have to "un-weave" long strings of "fat" (maybe another part).

    I have trimmed fat from the meat while cutting it up, maybe I am not getting enough off? I don't want to loose to much fat content....

    Also, I am using an electric grinder with a stuffer attachement. I have read two different methods - grind the meat, season and then back in to stuff or season the meat cubes and grind/stuff at the same time.

    Going the first rout, I imagine I would remove the die and the little "blade" thing from the grider?

    Sorry, I typed more than I thought I would. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
  2. Partly Freeze the fat before you grind it. That will help you out...
  3. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    As above, first thing that comes to mind is that the meat is not cold enough. Should almost or partially be frozen.

    Hate to ask, but do you have the cutter in properly with the flat side against the plate?

    As far as the spices, I can use some pretty big chunks of meat in my grinder, so I usually grind once, mix spice, then regrind.

    When I had a smaller grinder and used meat in one inch cubes, I would just sprinkle the spices over the meat and double grind.
  4. jlmacc

    jlmacc Meat Mopper

    You might want to check your blade.I have had problems before and the blade was just dull.Just run it in a circular motion over a sharpening stone.Another problem I had was my blade was not tight up against the plate either,so I made a washer out of pvc to fill the gap and hold the plate and blade tight together.
  5. oneshot

    oneshot Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    It sounds like yer meat is no where near cold enough, the closer to frozen the better. If the meat is to warm it will paste up. Put it back into the freezer for an hour or so to cool it down. Make sure yer blade is tight against the plate, don't be afraid to tighten that locking ring down real good.[​IMG]
  6. justsmoke2

    justsmoke2 Smoking Fanatic

    What size hole you using on your grinder plate? You might try staying with larger of the 2. I had the same problem when using my real small hole one.
  7. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Well lets see. Meat coming out like a paste. What size grind plate are you using? The smaller the holes, the smaller the meat comes out. Make sure the meat is very well chilled, right on the verge of freezing if not a bit frozen already. Hard but still pliable is best.

    The long strings are not nessarly fat, but more likely pieces of tendon or silver skin. I get the same thing from time to time.

    Like mentioned in the posts below, grinder blades do need sharpening from time to time. Just like a kitchen knife, they will get dull. A very flat whetstone wide enough for your cutting blade will do the trick. Even pressure in a circular motion. Appliance places will even sharpen them but if its a small blade, it may be more cost effective to buy a new one.

    One thing when making and grinding meat for sausage is to maintain the integrity of the meat. Many things come into play. Is the meat cold enough? Are the blades sharp. Are you running too much meat at one time allowing the head off the grinder head to heat up. Heat will be transfered to the head over time. If the body of the grinder is warm, its time to take a break or remove the head and place it in the freezer. This works best for metal heads.
    Forcing the meat thru will allow the auger to mush the meat as well.
    Using too small of a grind plate.

    When I make sausage, a trick I learned and it works very well. I take all the meat and fat that I am going to use. I get it as cold as I can, semi frozen. I then cut it all up into cubes no larger than 3/4". It takes some time, but its worth it in the end. When done, I will then take any spices/cure that I am using, and if the recipe calls for water, I add them to the water and make a slurry. I then add that to the meat and fat and mix it well, coating everything. This then goes into the fridge for a few hours. I take it out and mix it again and back into the fridge for a few hours.

    Now the good part. A few hours before I am ready to grind, the tub of cubes goes into the freezer. Needles to say a chest freezer works best for this. Once the pieces are semi solid, I run them thru the grinder and right into casings. The meat is ground once and retains its integrity. When I first did this, all I had was a kitchenaid mixer/grinder and it would not allow me to do the one step process, but I still cubed it and ran it thru then removed the blade and stuffed as normal.

    To answer your question about removing the blade and plate if you were to go the first route, yes you do, but you should have some sort of plate to put in there to hold the auger in place. Most look like a peace sign, some look like elongated slots on the side. Hope my ramblings here shed some light on things. I hope they did as my fingers are cramping up from typing LOL.

    The best thing one can really do is to get a dedicated stuffer just for making sausage. Hopefully santa will leave one under the tree this year for me[​IMG].
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As a newbie to the great world of sausage making myself. First off you should always keep the meat in the freezer when you not doing anything to it. The more frozin you get and keep the meat te better it will grind. Next thing is worms are good and smooth is not good. It sounds like your meat is too hot and it will smear out. Next thing to remember and I learned this the hard way to. Use the cutting blade with the stuffing plate and it will stuff alot easier. So there you have a good lesson. So go out and make more. If you have any more questions just post them here and we will help you but the Qview would help us out alot it's easier to see the problem then it is to read about it.
  9. pantherfan83

    pantherfan83 Smoking Fanatic

    Everything that Meat Hunter said is right. In addition, here's my two cents.
    • As everyone else said, the meat should be partially frozen. Not to the point where you can't bend it or pull pieces that are stuck together apart, but you should be able to see ice crystals on the meat.
    • It will get to the partially frozen state more quickly and evenly (if you have the freezer space to do this) by spreading the meat out on a baking sheet instead of having it all wadded up in a bag or tub.
    • Instead of cutting the meat into cubes, cut it into strips that are just narrow enough fit down the grinding tube. You'll spend less time cutting and it makes feeding into the grinder easier. As soon as the auger catches the strip, it pull the rest in by itself. This way you don't even have to use the plunger most of the time.
    • When cutting up a butt for sausage, I don't trim any fat off at all. The only thing I trim and discard would be anything that looks bad like: gland, veins, sinew, anything that looks discolored or bloody, etc...
    • Most importantly, if you think you are going to get into making sausage at all, get a dedicated stuffer. You will love it and wonder how you ever did without it. You can get one for as little as $70(ish) from Grizzly Tools off e-Bay. A lot of people (including me) have this stuffer and it works as good as other 5 lb stuffers that cost more. A lot of them that cost more are identical to Grizzly's anyway. If money is not an object, get one with metal gears and get a 15 lb. model. Order online from Gander Mountain. Theirs is/was on sale for $179.99 with free shipping. If you enter the discount code "gander15" you get an extra 15% off the sale price (if the sale and discount have not expired) which brings the cost down to $153. The regular price is $199. Note: 5 lb stuffers do not quite hold 5 lbs of sausage and 15 lb-ers don't quite hold 15.
  10. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    An absolutely EXCELLENT idea. Will definitely try that the next time I make sausage. [​IMG][​IMG]:pDT_Armataz _01_34:

    Another great idea from out members.
  11. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    What the others have said. That chilled to nearly frozen meat idea works well for cubing your butts too. They cut clean vs. "rubbery". For all this, sharp knives....for your hand or grinder help.

    But from a practical standpoint, meat from the refrigerator is not cold enough and if you put it in the freezer, half on the outside of your pan will be frozen hard, while the stuff inside is still soft. Winter offers some options and in our area, it may be 20 to 25 outside, so I can leave my covered meat outside for a few hours and it will be partially frozen/firm all the way through. Frozen won't work as the meat has to be soft enough to be pressed into the grinder plate holes by the screw, where it is sheared off by the grinder knife.

    Some additional tips, in no particular order:

    If cutting up more than one butt, only pull one butt out and leave the others to chill or freeze. Put the first one away and pull out the next one. Same with grinding. Seldom should you pull out more than 5 pounds at a time. More than that will warm up while it's waiting.

    Cleanup of all equipment should be done ASAP and the first pass should be done with cold water. A high pressure blast of cold water will dislodge meat and fat, whereas a dunk in hot water will "set it", making it twice as hard to clean off. After you are down to bare metal, then move to hot soapy water. Use brushes to get into the hard places, including the plate holes.

    Prior to using your grinder, wash the parts again (and a dunk in a weak chlorine bleach solution couldn't hurt), then a final rinse with cold water. Chilling the grinder parts right before you use them is not a bad idea.

    The texture of sausage made from just pork butts tends to be "rubbery" and dry, as most hogs these days are bred to be lean. If you don't care for this and want to kick it up a notch, drop in a extra 10% to 20% pork fat by weight. The rubber will go away and the texture will be more like the store bought stuff, although not nearly as much so as they really lard up their sausage with fat. Ten percent extra fat will "sweat" in the skillet.....meaning it can be cooked without sticking. More than that and you will get shrink as fat cooks out.

    If you are going to be stuffing sausage, add about 2 cups of ice water per 10 pounds of sausage. The water doesn't hurt anything and it makes the sausage easier to mix and it flows through the stuffer easier. Water is a good lube for anything sausage, including your hands. If you are handling it and it's sticking, wet your hands first and it will slide off.

    Wet the tubes and lube the inside of the casings with water. Let them rest and wait in a tub of water. Wet the stuffing table or pan with water. Cold water that is. Always cold water. Ice cubes can't hurt.

    Lastly, use fresh butts vs. those that have been "enhanced" with a solution of any kind. They will cut cleaner and look better (good pork should be bright pink). They also cost less, as you are buying pork vs. pork and water.
  12. peppac

    peppac Newbie

    Loved your "Vet" quote but please leave the kitties alone!!! Thanks for your service! My son has been accepted into the Green Beret!
  13. jbraas

    jbraas Fire Starter

    Thanks all for teh advice. Sorry for the late thanks, I have been away from the computer for awhile.

    Sounds like I really need to leave things in the freezer a little longer. I put things in there, just maybe not enough.

    I will definately try again!
  14. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    One additional thing. On your original post, you mentioned all that "stringy" stuff. That may be large pieces of sinew or connective tissue. Best to try to trim out as much of that as you can when cubing your meat. There is a spot near that flat bone that seems to be a "crossroads" of sorts for several bundles of muscle fibers that come together. There is sometimes a chunk of gristle there too. That is not fat. Best to cut all that out and toss it, or else it may wind up getting "wrapped around the axle" on you.

    Second part of that is your grinder plate has to be tight to the cutting blade and to do a good job, the plate and blade have to be sharp and mate to each other.

    On the "tighten up", the maker of my grinders left a reminder:

    Those nipples that stick out are there to enable you to use a wrench on them. That implies more than hand tight. Crank this grinder by hand and you soon realize how much force is required just to overcome the friction of the blade and plate (which also generates heat). Another good reason for chilled/partially frozen meat. And a good reason why grinders with small motors would run hot. More so if the size of the plate holes is small.
  15. mulepackin

    mulepackin Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lots of very good advice has already been given. The only thing I would add that I do; if despite sharp knives and plates, well trimmed, and semi frozen meat, you still get some clogging, run a handful of ice cubes through the grinder. This will kind of clean and push a surprising amount of the tough stuff through and clean the plate without dissassembly. You will be adding ice water later so it won't hurt the meat any.
  16. pantherfan83

    pantherfan83 Smoking Fanatic

    I think it depends on what kind of blades your grinder has. I put ice through my cheap-o electric grinder once and the blade shattered. A stainless steel blade would probably have no problems.
  17. mulepackin

    mulepackin Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Point well taken, a light plastic geared grinder would also howl at this treatment I'm sure. Mine is a home motorized #32.

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