As a youngster growing up on a farm, we butchered all our own meat. However,we never made any bacon, sausage, or cured and smoked any of our own meat, because we had an old German neighbor guy named Seigi Schtousse(sp), that did that as his living. He would keep some of the meat for his labor. I don't know what the arrangement was, but it always seemed satisfactory to my dad. Seigi had similar arrangements with many of the locals and would then sell his meat products at his roadside stand and at area gatherings. His sausages were most memorably delicious. I was afraid of Seigi as a little kid, because he was always gruff, and never seemed to like kids. He was a grouchy old bachelor, or so I thought. Later on, I found out that he once had a wife and two children that had died of Typhoid Fever. I'm not sure what that has to do with sausage making, other than the fact that it has led me here, to ask these questions at this stage of my life.
I've been interested in sausage making for some time. I'm now ready to take the plunge. I have a Rival meat grinder (basically a piece of you know what), that will not do much more than grind basic cooked meats for sandwiches etc. What would you recommend I start with as far as grinder, mixer, stuffer etc.?
I've been reading most of the posts and have gotten some ideas. I've been drooling over the Cabelas 1 hp grinder for a long time now. It's way more grinder than I can even think of needing right now, but it has forward and reverse, great reviews and can plow through meat like nobody's business. Basically the last grinder you will ever need to purchase for the home sausage maker. I don't want to buy a cheezy, low powered grinder and have to buy another one to fit my needs as I grow.
I've been researching stuffers and can't decide what to get to start with. A 5lb stuffer would be fine for the time being, but I'm sure I will out grow that in no time. A 10-11 lb stuffer may make more sense, which could serve as the little stuffer as time goes on. I'm a little concerned about the nylon and aluminum gears that are common in these sizes. Are there any models out there that have steel gears in these sizes? I don't mind paying a little more to get away from that. Is my thinking wrong on this? Deer sticks come to mind when I think of a small stuffer. That seems to create a lot of stress on gears due to the pressure created when extruding a dryer meat mixture into a small diameter casing.
As far as mixing, I think I can handle 5 lbs in a tub without much problem, Probably wouldn't even bother dirtying a mixer for that amount of sausage. But 25-50 lbs may be a different story. Hear tell that one doesn't look forward to the sore shoulders and frozen hands when "hand mixing" 50 lbs of sausage. Ya, my ancestores would be ashamed of the kind of the "pansy" they're prodogy has become, but what can I say? I'm admittedly a "wuss". Would a 20 lb hand crank model be pretty much what I will need for all purpose? What should I be on the lookout for? Thought I read a review about some model that had a problem with leaking around the seal. I would rather avoid something like that.
What do you sausage guy's think? Am I way over thinking this thing, or am I on the right track, looking for quality equipment over the less expensive stuff, even to start with?