First Brats/hog casings and using the grinder

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by lips, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. lips

    lips Fire Starter

    Let me first say that I went into this with all the confidence in the world after many months of watching all the veterans on this site perform their craft time and again.  They make it look so easy!  All you have to do is get a pork butt, cut it into cubes, put into freezer to harden up, grind, mix spices, regrind, then stuff, set over night, and smoke.  The cutting up and first grind went great.  Like I said, “this is easy”.  Then a big fat piece of humble pie hit me in the face.  Added the spices and cure and ready for second grind.  The stuff was sticking to my hand, didn’t go through the grinding hole like the big chunks of meat did.  I had the stuff all over my hands, and I think by the end, I used every bowl/cookie sheet in the kitchen.  Then to the hog casings, I did go to my local butcher and buy a full hank of good quality ones and soaked and rinsed for two days.  But then getting them on the plastic stuffing tube was impossible, so I used my smaller stainless snack stick tube.  BIG MISTAKE.  Easy to get on but filling these huge 35+mm casing did not work.  Over stuffed or had air pockets everywhere, so second batch I put casings on snack stick tube to open them up, and then put onto the plastic tube.  This worked but I still didn’t get what I thought was the right size.  As you can see I don’t have any photos of the stuffing because I was freaking out.  Once they were stuffed, next came the twisting part.  It looks easy, but again more humble pie.  That sucker was twisting everywhere but got it done.

    I used Hi Mountain Spicy Beer Brats but add some of my home made Habanero/Jalo/Serrano pepper blend and 3# of venison.

    I will be putting them in the MES 30 tonight with the AMAZN pellets using apple.  Will post photos when done.
  2. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks great, maybe try adding just the cure after the 2nd grind then it won't start setting up on you. were you using your grinder as a stuffer or did you have a designated stuffer?? 

    Your end result looks great - way to get the job done. It will come easier with practice. 

    Can't wait for the final pics they sure look great and bet they will go good with a cold one [​IMG]

    A full smoker is a happy smoker.

  3. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    If you are stuffing with your grinder start thinking about getting a dedicated stuffer. It makes it so much more enjoyable it is not even funny. I don't mix my cure and stuff in until after the second grind. I don't like getting salt on my grinding discs. It wears them out. Also if you lube your tube up with some vegetable oil the casings slide on easier.
  4. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    OK.....first time is never picture perfect. It does get easier as you learn how your gear performs. Personally, I rarely do a second grind anymore. I'm sure sacrilege to some but for me the one grind is perfect. I still use my KA grinder so only have 2 plates...coarse & fine. If doing a Hot Link I'll use the coarse plate, for a Brat or similar I go through the finer plate. If you put the blob into the freezer for a bit to really firm up after the first grind the second grind will go easier. Water is your friend with casings. Sounds like you did the soaking well enough but possibly the horn wasn't wet enough to facilitate slipping the casings on. I've used fingers dipped in canola or some such oil to grease up the horn and even a Pam like spray on occasion but found water worked best in the end. Have a few towels around for mopping up. You have a whole hank so it will take a while to use it up....perhaps practice with one without the stress of sausage sitting around to get the feel of it. They are stronger than I thought and now I feel more confident manhandling them some. Another thing is a dedicated stuffer.....I have a Lem 5#'er with metal gears and after using the funky KA stuffer once I never looked back. A sound investment and some can be found at a decent price. I've also switched to SS stuffing horns.....fairly cheap to get and IMO easier to work with and clean opposed to the plastic. Linking can be an issue...I find a longgggg table helpful with the twists. I use a folding buffet style table (costco) covered with a plastic table cloth. I twist first link towards me and next link I twist away from me...repeat till over. HTH, Willie
  5. From the looks of your finished brats and your talk about stuffing tubes, it seems you have an individual stuffer right? They don't look smeared at all and that would be typical of using a grinder to stuff sausage. Good on ya there!

    Your part about no pictures because you were freaking out is hilarious! It reminds me exactly of how I was on my 1st and 2nd batches. It was a mad house and I remember it took me like 1.5 hours just to get done 5 lbs. Great time!

    I'm with Chef in that I don't ever grind twice. Personally I see no need to unless you're going for a closer to emulsified final product. For loading the casings, when I do it I have the water dish with the casings still in right in front of the stuffing horn. I load directly from the water dish so I have plenty of excess water on the casings to help them slide on. I think I might take an explanation video next time. I've always loaded the horn with ease. 

    Keep this pics coming and they great so far!
  6. smokin phil

    smokin phil Smoking Fanatic

    +1 Chef Willie. Get a dedicated stuffer. The KA works GREAT for grinding... Not so much for stuffing. I got a LEM 5#. GREAT little stuffer! You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. Reloading the LEM is no big deal if you're doing batches larger than 5#. The Kitchener is a great stuffer too, and only about ~$100. I tried using the KA as stuffer... Fail. Some get it to work, I couldn't. I will eventually get a dedicated grinder as well.

    Get a dedicated stuffer. It will solve about 90% of your problems.

    Oh, your end result look great though!!!!
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  7. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I was planning on getting the LEM, but what about the Kitchenaid grinder?  My wife has the mixer and the attachment for grinding is ~$40 vs $150 for a dedicated grinder.  Anyone use this before?  Does it work well?
  8. I don't personally have it but have read a many people's comments about it. It's perfectly fine for small batch 5 lb batches and 10 lbs might be a bit of a pain but doable. Anything higher than that get a dedicated grinder.
  9. drinks

    drinks Newbie

    Mummel,bite the bullet,get the LEM 5lb  stuffer and the LEM #5 , 1/4 hp grinder. I have the grinder, had bought another stuffer, also 5lb, discovered , too late , it had plastic gears so I am just waiting for them to break, whereupon I shall order a set of SS gears from LEM

    I have 4 plates  for my grinder, I only use the 8mm and 6mm.

    I wasted over $300 dollars on other grinders before going LEM.

    Stay away from Northern products, seems they never have parts for what they sell.

    If you plan to keep doing sausage, get something good to start with.

    I never grind more than once.
  10. Dedicated stuffer is the best way to go  IMHO

  11. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I use my kitchenaid grinder all the time. Works fine with these aftermarket blades and cutter I got on amazon. Just don't expect to stuff with it. I did that one time before I went and got a stuffer.
  12. Hey Timberjet    I fixed your Picture for You

  13. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  14. lips

    lips Fire Starter

    Great advice about the cure adding after second grind.  I do have a Lem stuffer just couldn't get the casings to go over the larger plastic tube.  But after stuffing the casings obviously can stretch way larger.  I even tried spraying some pam on didn't help.
  15. You said you soaked them for a couple of days Did you hold them under running water and rinse the insides a couple of times ?

  16. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    are you using the right tube? I have a super big tube for summer sausage, one for 35 mm casings and a snack stick tube. I wonder if you didn't get the right tube with your stuffer.
  17. When I first start feeding the tube, I blow into the end of the casing that's going into the tube. And, I feed the horn directly out of the water bowl which keeps plenty of water on both side of the tubing for easy loading. 

    Keep at it! I don't think there's anything wrong with your gear or your tube. This looks like a simple case of "It's my 1st time and it was PITA". Have fun with it!
  18. lips

    lips Fire Starter

    Great advice all.  I think I was just a rookie and being too gentle with the casings and should have added more water to the horn. 
  19. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Now now gary. Hahahaha.....
  20. I was wondering if you were going to catch that 


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