Maybe you think you want a sausage stuffer and aren't sure if it is worth the cost to have a separate stuffer? (It's SO worth it! They are so easy to use and clean!)
Maybe you got a second-hand stuffer and have no idea how to use it or take care of it? (eBay is a popular place, after all)
Maybe you just like looking at posts that have lots of pictures of cool kitchen equipment in them? (Yeah... me too!)
Anyway you look at it, I'm glad you're here. We're going to talk about Sausage Stuffers. Many people own a grinder (and yes, you CAN use a grinder for stuffing, but I don't recommend it). True sausage enthusiasts also own a separate stuffer.
As far as I know, stuffers come in three styles: push stuffers, crank stuffers and water stuffers. My great-grandma had an old push stuffer and I can tell you two things about them: They are inexpensive and they are a pain in the you-know-where.
Hand crank stuffers like my Grizzly seem to be pretty common around here. The weight (5lb) just tells you about how much meat the canister will hold before you have to reload. There are bigger ones out there, 10 15 even 25 and up. I chose the size I thought I'd use most often and that I could afford to permanently bolt to my basement kitchen counter. With the frame bolted in, I have no excuse not to use it!
I love my hand crank stuffer and have found it to be such a breeze to use that I am making sausage more frequently than ever.
Water stuffers hook up to a hose and use water pressure to stuff. I have no experience with them at all, have only seen the in pictures.
So... here goes:
I bolted the frame of my Grizzly down. You don't have to do this. Two super-tight C-Clamps will do you just fine. I have also seen folks who bolt the frame to a board, the clamp the board where they need it. The frame is basically a big screw with a handle. You can see my gears are nylon. There are manufacturers who make METAL replacement gears. I have ordered a set just this week from LEM (thanks, Beer-B-Q!!) as I don't want to worry about the nylon cracking mid-project. Next to the frame, you can see the 5-lb canister.
(Note: I keep my canister in the freezer normally, as I do all my metal grinder parts. Cold metal is good for meat AND your freezer is also a dehumidifier.)
There are three pieces that comprise the squishing force of your stuffer. A nylon plate (with a red gasket), a pressure valve, and a nut to hold the valve in place. These three things should always get cleaned separately and stored separately.
You want the pressure valve on there snugly enough to not fall off, but loose enough to release air as you crank down the handle. This keeps your sausage from filling with air as well as making it easier to turn the crank.
It is never a bad idea to keep your gasket lubricated. You want to use NON petroleum based FOOD safe lubricant. Petrol based lubricants can actually cause cracking and drying. Store it clean and lubricated and in a plastic bag.
The plate itself attaches pretty easily to the screw. Get it on there good and tighten by hand.
Most stuffers come with an assortment of stuffer horns. The largest is used for Summer Sausage and bigger. Medium for hotdog and brats. Small for brekkie sausage.
The tubes attach to the canister with the tightening of a nut:
When packing meat in to the canister, you want as few air pockets as possible. Pack it in carefully. I find a slightly "wetter" sausage mix ALWAYS stuffs better than a slightly "drier" sausage mix. In fact, that is one of the best things about using casings (::grins at certain people who like skinless sausage::) is that you can have a moister, juicier sausage.
Slide the canister into place. You can't goof this up.
All ready to go. You can see the gears close up here...
You will hear the air hiss out of the pressure valve as you get closer to the surface of your meat.
I like to stuff onto a wet foil lined tray. Natural sausage casings like everything to be WET. Water slopped on your horn, on the tray, on your hands... The wetter the better.
When loading a horn with a natural casing, please keep in mind that you want it all on there. The idea is "stuff as you go." It's like rolling down a sock before you put your toes in... You stretch it out less this way.
Once you are done stuffing your sausage, it is easy to see just how little waste you have left in the canister:
For cleanup, everything that touched meat should have all visible meat remains washed off, or out, then just toss them all in the dishwasher on HOT. You remembered to separate the valve nut from the plate, right? Good.
In the dishwasher:
My base frame is bolted down, so I give it a good wipe down, then spray with Kitchen Safe Disinfectant. Please do not forget: disinfectants must be left on for 10 minutes to "work" properly. I give the handle the same treatment, as it never touches meat.
Cheers! Let me know if this helps you!