Sausages are a firm family favorite. They go with just about anything, and there’s a different kind of sausage for everybody. With such an array of different herbs, spices, and meats to choose from, you can tailor sausages to anyone’s needs and likings.
Any credible grocery store will display a wide range of tasty, meaty sausages all year round. They’re great in the summer for a good old-fashioned barbecue. In the winter, what’s better to cure your blues than a hearty sausage stew? There’s only one way you could possibly make sausages any better, and that’s by making them yourself!
If you like to partake in some seasonal hunting, sausages are a perfect way to use up that extra venison. You couldn’t possibly eat venison burgers the entire time! A good ratio for sausages is a 70:30 mix of your meat, be it venison, goat, beef or pork, to beef or pork fat. It depends on the meat, but generally, 20% to 30% fat content is good for lean meats.
You can certainly use thawed meat if you’ve got some extra stashed away in the freezer. You’ll need to grind up the meat (see my recommendation for the best meat grinder for the money) and add your preferred seasonings. One thing I recommend is that you fry up a sample of your spiced meat. That way, you’ll be sure it’s to your liking. After all, you can’t add anything once it’s in the sausage! This is especially important when trying out something new.
How to make homemade sausages
Once you’ve got your flavors down, you just need to keep an eye on the salt (used for curing) and the consistency. It’s a good idea to add a small bit of water to your sausage mix. Once the mix is ready, stick it in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to blend, develop and permeate the meat. Before stuffing, let the mix sit at room temperature, just for 20 minutes or so.
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You can make a solid batch of fresh sausages in just 90 minutes if using a quality sausage stuffer. The hard part is the threading of the hog casings, but a bit of vegetable oil along the tube will make this much easier. To get a bit of traction on the casing, use some paper towels. Just make sure you’re delicate with them as you don’t want them to rip!
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If you’re using collagen casing, you don’t need to add any water, but they’ll benefit from a night in the fridge before stuffing commences.
Check out LEM Products Fresh Clear Edible Collagen Casing at Amazon
When the stuffing begins, you’ve got two options. The first is to leave continuous casings. Alternatively, you can twist them into individual sausages. For traditional sausages, you’re better off twisting them into individual segments as they fill.
Whichever method you choose, please always ensure that you cook your sausages to a safe temperature by using a reliable meat thermometer.
The best sausage stuffer
If you’re stuffing sausages, you’ll need the right equipment for the task! The best sausage stuffer for making sausages at home has got to be the LEM 606SS, a 5 lb vertical stuffer with a stainless steel ⅜” tube. Stainless steel makes easier work than plastic, as it will last longer, and is easier to clean. It’s really important to have a sausage stuff that’s easy to clean, owing to the fact it’s processing raw meat.
Do you process a lot of meat? Find out which cutting boards are best for meat and help prevent cross-contamination.
The LEM 5 lb. vertical sausage stuffer has a stainless steel base and removable cylinder, as well as all metal gears. This design makes it simple to use and clean. It’s made to be sturdy, with a durable build and clamps that secure the device during use. One unique feature is the air valve release. This pushes air out the top of the unit instead of into the casing. This ensures that no air fills up the casing, and ensures your sausages have a nice, consistent texture.
See the LEM Products 5 Lb Stainless Steel Vertical Sausage Stuffer at Amazon
LEM has specialized in home processing equipment since its founding in 1991. This company, based in Ohio, has made homemade meat products an easily accessible pleasure ever since. They build products to be durable and long lasting, with high-quality components and a fantastic warranty.
LEM has a great reputation among hunters and other meat lovers. You’ll see their name over and over when researching meat processing equipment. I’ve recommended LEM products before, and this sausage stuffer lives up to the LEM brand name. It’s a must-have for sausage fans! And, it’s also great for making snack sticks!
Stuffed to the brim with goodness
Whether you’re making sausages for a weenie roast, or cooking up a hearty stew, processing your own meat at home is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the finest quality sausages possible. Turn on the kitchen radio, pull out the LEM sausage stuffer, and get to it! The possibilities are endless.
If you’re a certified carnivore, you might also enjoy my various recipes and guides for making delicious roasts and more. Check out this guide for steak, cooked in a cast iron skillet.!
Or, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, why not try cooking a pig in the ground at your next BBQ or luau? It’s a time investment to be sure, but your guests will be talking about it for years to come.
What’s the Best Sausage Stuffer for Snack Sticks
Snack sticks are a favorite of the whole family. While Slim Jims are nice for a quick bite at a gas station, they don’t even come close to the joy of the homemade variety! Thankfully, snack sticks are actually fairly simple to make.
Of course, in order to make these tasty snacks, you’re going to need the right tools.
Spice up snack time!
The basis of any good sausage is, naturally, the meat. These spicy, protein-rich snacks are made from sausage, like salami or pepperoni, often fermented with lactic acid-producing bacteria. This process firms up the meat and adds flavor.
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If you, or someone in your family, is a hunter, snack sticks are a great way to use up extra meat, such as venison. Hunters and bulk shoppers often have substantial amounts of frozen meat stored in the freezer. Thawed meats from your stash will work just fine for making snack sticks.
Here are a few tips on making your own snack sticks at home with the best sausage stuffer.
Preparing the Meat
A good ratio for snack sticks is a 70:30 mix of venison, goat, beef, or pork meat to pork or beef fat. Depending on the particular cut of meat, you may need to adjust the fat content, but around 20% to 30% is best for most lean meats.
The next step is to grind the meat and mix it with seasoning.
It’s a good idea to fry up a small amount to sample. Once your seasonings are inside the sausage, it’s too late to add more salt or paprika! This is also a good technique when trying more exotic spices—just fry up a small bit before working through the whole batch and check the flavor.
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Apart from taste, the other main things to watch out for are the quantity of cure (salts) and the consistency. With snack sticks, you might have to mix in a little water. It pays to cure, season, and refrigerate the mixture overnight before stuffing. This allows flavor to develop and permeate the meat. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for twenty minutes before stuffing.
Making the Snack Sticks
It’s possible to finish a 30lb batch of snack sticks in an hour and a half if you’re using a good quality sausage stuffer. The most difficult part is threading hog casings, but if you use some vegetable oil on the tube it makes it easier. Paper towels can help get traction on the casing, but take care not to rip them.
Collagen casings don’t require soaking in water, but do benefit from resting overnight in the fridge. As you stuff them, you can choose to either leave the casings continuous, or twist them into links as each one completes. For making snack sticks it’s much easier to leave them full length until cooked, then cut them to your desired length.
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While cooking, dehydrating, or smoking, some people say you should prick each casing to allow excess fat to drip out. If you keep careful control of the temperature (high enough to eliminate bacteria, but as low as possible—around 155° F), the casings will not burst and the fat will marble into the sausage. The marbling imparts a richer, more delicious flavor. If you don’t like strong smoky flavors, try hickory smoking for just 40 minutes and then finish cooking in the oven.
Whatever method you choose, be certain that the internal temperature of the sausages reach 150° F. Always use a reliable meat thermometer to ensure your meats are cooked to safe temperatures. You can then submerge in ice water to immediately stop the cooking process and set the sausage.
With no added fillers, hydrogenated oils, or other suspicious additives, your snack sticks (including the extra fat) are still a healthier option than store-bought processed meat.
The best sausage stuffer for snack sticks
The best sausage stuffer for making snack sticks at home has to be the LEM 606SS. Since its founding in 1991, LEM has specialized in manufacturing game processing equipment. They’re a well-respected company that focuses on producing excellent meat preparation and sausage making supplies for home users. This Ohio-based company builds strong and long-lasting products using high-quality parts.
I’m a huge fan of LEM products, since they come with a fantastic warranty and great customer support. LEM has a great reputation amongst hunters and other meat lovers, and an obvious passion for the bountiful outdoors. You’ll see their name again and again when researching meat processing equipment. In keeping with LEM’s reputation for excellence, their 5 lb vertical sausage stuffer performs admirably.
The LEM 5 lb vertical sausage stuffer has a stainless steel base with clamps that keep it secure during use, a fully-removable cylinder, all metal gears, and a ⅜” stainless steel tube.
See the LEM Products 5 Lb Stainless Steel Vertical Sausage Stuffer at Amazon
The design of this model makes it simple to use and clean. It’s built like a tank and will survive long-term use. It’s quick and easy to crank. Perhaps my favorite feature, however, is the air valve release, which pushes air out the top of the unit instead of into the casing. That translates to nice, tight snack sticks and consistent results.
Stick with the best
Snack sticks are a great use for your extra game meat. It’s a fun activity that the whole family can participate in, and making your own at home means you don’t have to worry about additives or other nasties. For making snack sticks, I definitely have to recommend the LEM vertical sausage stuffer. It’s a sturdy, well-designed machine from a respected company. With the LEM, you’ll be well on your way to making delicious, homemade sausages in no time!
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Jeffrey W. and Joel J.,Stu S.