Looking to start playing with sausage.

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by shortend, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    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?


  2. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the world of sausage making.

    To help you with things you are on the right track.

    Grinders by Cabelas, LEM and Sausage maker are great. I have a Cabelas 1hp and its a monster. BTW Basspro sells LEM equipment.

    Stuffers like a really decent hand crank i would suggest the LEM 5 or 10lb. They both have metal gears. The Sausage Maker has some very high end stuffers.

    Mixers like the Cabelas or LEM are good but FYI if its a 17-20 lb mixer you will need that much to get a decent mix. 5 lbs in it and the meat just rolls in a ball in the middle around the paddles.

    Hope this helps some.
  3. steve k

    steve k Fire Starter

    Dzien Dobry! That's Polish for "hi".  I learned how to make kielbasa by watching my father make 100 to 150 lbs of "polish sausage," at a time, for the Polish weddings he used to cater in our banquet hall on the west side of Chicago.  The Marshall Square Ballroom was the best place to have a wedding because of the home made Polish cuisine my grandparents and my father put on the table.  But I digress.  I now make 50 lbs of cured smoked kielbasa every Easter as a family tradition.  I have figured out some modern shortcuts without sacrificing the old family recipe. First of all, find a butcher who will bone and grind pork shoulder in a coarse grind and you don't need the 1 hp meat grinder. You can find ground pork shoulder around here for about $2.00 lb.  I have a 1 hp grinder that I have access to (my neighbor's).  I never use it because it takes too long to cut and grind 50 lbs of meat.  If you want to enrich Cabelas, which I do often, by the big ground meat trays with covers so you can leave your seasoned ground meat over night in the refrigerator.  The seasonings permeate all of the meat better that way.  Since bratwurst, italian, and Polish sausage and Mexican Chiorzo are all made of pork shoulder, this is pretty universal advice.   

    The expensive stainless steel stuffers at Cabelas are beautiful and nice.  I have a crank five pounder that served me well when my kids wanted to help me make sausage and took turns cranking.  Now the two boys are in college and my daughter is almost there.  With no one to crank but me, I started using a Dakota stuffer, which is also available from Cabelas, I think.  It is made of PVC and operates by water pressure pushing the meat piston, instead of your shoulder muscles.  It holds ten pounds and comes with a jerky attachment, a kielbasa horn, and a breakfast sausage horn.  ..... and it's about $500.00 cheaper than a stainless steel one with the electric motor.  If you want to spend a lot of money, skip the grinder and the expensive stuffer and spend it on the smoker.  I've been real happy with the Cabelas Pro 100.  Professional results in a home size.  There are also some great web sites on building smoke houses, if you want to go that way.  A lot of them have entries from Poland, which are amazing for what they can do with cheap materials.  Oil drums and wood dowels are real popular items there.  I saw a real interesting smoke house at Mount Vernon VA (yes, George Washington's house).  I'm sure there are some pictures of it on the web some where.  I have some photos, I'll post them when I get a chance.  Suffice it to say, they could smoke a whole buck in it.  Actually, five bucks and a doe.  Good look with your sausage making endeavors.  There's a real good book on making sausage by Rytek Kuta, also Cabelas has a nice DVD on smoking sausage which actually taught me a few things. If you have any more questions, ask away.  If I don't have a good answer, I'll make one up.  (only kidding!)
  4. steve k

    steve k Fire Starter

    Sorry, that's "good luck" not "look"
  5. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    Thanks Nepas, that's the kind of feed back I was hoping for. The Cabelas 1 HP looks like the best one on the market. I think I'm going to go for it. Fortunatly, $'s not an issue for me. I've done enough to "make my mark in life", as my dad would say. I'm looking closely at the LEM stuffers. I like the looks of that 15 Lb. Are there any issues with that stuffer that you know of? As far as mixers, I do understand that below a certain volumn they just don't perform. I guess you just hand mix it then, which is OK. I'm just looking to avoid the mistakes that others that have come before me have made.
  6. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    SteveK, thanks for the reply. I hear ya on the butcher, but I'm kinda one of those, "I'd rather do it myself", kinda guys. I don't worry too much about enriching Cabelas, as I have been in the habit of doing so for many years,(LOL)  I'm lacking kids around to help with cranking. I'd have to rely on grandkids. I have 9 and only a couple are interested in what Grandpa's doing with that smoking thing. My best one is Morgan.  He's 6 and he says I want to cook just like you do, Grandpa. I can't get him off my hip (nor do I want to) I call him shadow, as every time I turn around I nearly run over him, he's that close and interested. Proof that there is hope for the next generation. He soaks it up like a sponge. They're spending the next weekend with me and grandma and I promised him we would do some ribs. He gets to rub 'em, put 'em on the smoker and keep track of the smoker temp and when we need to do what with the ribs. I'm looking forward to " Grandpa,  the smoker temp is 250". 2 minutes later,"Grandpa the smoker temp is 252". Life just doesn't get any better than that!

    I do have the Great Sausage Recipes book by Kutas and the Charcuterie book and have read and found them very valuable. But nothing is like the experience that others have aquired. Thus, the reason for this site that Jeff provides for us. I've been around for a couple of transformations, and they've both been very good. It's a better site today than it was 3 or 5 years ago. Personnally, I think the big "CRASH" was the best thing that ever happened to this site. It got a good many of the old back biters and grouches to form their own site, and I must say, It's a good place for them. Visited there on occassion. Same Time-Same Channel. They spend all they're time telling each other how cool they all are, and You'll learn nothing!! Just sayin"!!

    I love good "old fashioned" Kielbasa. Like the old Polish folks made when I was a kid. Not the "crap" called Kielbasa at the stores. It's not even close! When I get to Kielbasa, how 'bout I give you a shout out for some advice. I'd really appreciate any help you can offer.

  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sounds like your ready to go! Don't forget the Q-view!
  8. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hey short end... I usually make large amounts of sausage several times a year.....If you plan on making larger amounts of sausage in the future then I would go with the 20 lb stuffer even though the 5 lb will work, you will just have to refill more... The 30 lb is really big and I love it but it leaves about 3 lbs unstuffed. I have the motor on my stuffer and it is awesome for hands free cranking for self stuffing... I dont get any help from the wife and kid..........we have nothing in common but thats another story........ I had to buy the 5 lb stuffer to finish up. luckily I got it from NT and it was on the clearance rack for 60 bucks.... The cabelas grinder is awesome and I would highly recommend it. You already have a grinder even if its a piece of crap I would focus on the stuffer first. As for mixing I use the large gray bins you can get at sams club. I easily mix meat with my hands and the cold doesnt bother me so much, just put on two pair of gloves. The bins are easy clean up too and you will also need them for the cold water bath.............. Depending when you want to get all of this I always say around christmas is a great time. What I do is get the word out to everyone that I want cash or cabelas gift cards so a lot of the cabelas pocessing equiptment go on sale during the holidays and usually there are 20 dollar off coupons in the mail from cabelas, then the cash and gift cards, you can pick up a nice piece of equiptment for a little out of pocket.

    Good luck, happy sausage processing and dont for get the qveiw [​IMG]

  9. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Miz Princess is a sausage head for sure and could probably give some good advice. Maybe she'll drop by. I bought a bunch of stuff to make sausage and still haven't done it. I am the ultimate weenie procrastinator and it makes me sad. [​IMG]
  10. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I started reading this post and Waterloo came to mind, I then see your from there. I spent some time there and the Sullivan Brothers I praise. Smoke on. 
  11. steve k

    steve k Fire Starter

    I'd be happy to help any way I can.  That grandson sounds like someone I see in the mirror every day, only about 45 years ago.  I'm brought back to those days every time I make a batch.  By the way, Dad made the 100 to 150 lbs of sausage with a cast iron crank stuffer and mixed the sausage meat in a big oak wash tub type barrel, using big sweeping movements with his massive arms.  It never seemed to bother his fingers.  His stuffer was black cast iron and looked to hold only about 10 lbs of meat at a time.  I don't know what happened to that stuffer and haven't seen one like it anywhere since.  My point is that 10 lbs is plenty big, because you have to stop and ad casings between five and ten pounds anyway.  If money is no object, get one that you don't have to crank, get the grandson to help guide the sausage as it comes out of the horn, and show him how to twist the links.  He'll stick around longer and you'll stuff 25 lbs in an hour.  
  12. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Lots of great sausage makers here.  Lots of great cooks in general.

    As to equipment, realistically assess how much of this you want to get into and how much you plan at making at one time.  I warn you it addictive, and with each success, you will want to do more.  Quality equipment is a blessing if you have the will and the budget.  Doing stuff the old way can be fun, but remember it was often several people getting together for a community project.

    I think you are in a great place, and I certainly welcome you!

    Good luck and good smoking.
  13. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Awww... Squirrel-girl, Mah Sistah... ;)

    Hi ShortEnd!! ::waves::  Nice to meetcha!! Sausage making is my third love (after the Darling Husband and the Sweet Prince, of course!)   I can eagerly recall turning the crank at my Busha's every year as all the ladies got together every year to put up 100's of pounds of kielbasa. It's in our blood, my friend. I hope to share similar memories with my son when he is older.  Everything below is just my $.02, I hope you get something out of it.  The above advice is all good too!!


    Here's the thing: If you buy smaller, quality equipment and "outgrow" it, you can sell it here (or ebay or whatever) or gift it to another newbie and buy bigger.  If you buy the Terrafirminator of All Grinders and Supergargantuan of All Stuffers and don't use it (or get frustrated by it) you'll be angry. That is totally just my $.02.

    The first piece of sausage making equipment you need is a good sized freezer to pre-freeze pork (trichinosis is not something to #$&* around with) with space for meat tubs as you ice down your meat post-cut and pre-grind. My freezer is bigger than my fridge and I LOVE IT. I can fit a whole cow in there (and have!!)

    I upgraded to the #12 grinder from Northern that will do over 150 lb an hour last year. I don't EVER do that much meat, but what that means for me is I can do 15lb or so as fast as I can shove it down my grinder's throat. It's also small and easy enough to wield that if I just want to do two pounds of brekkie sausage or pizza sausage, I can whip it out, grind away and break it back down in no time flat.   It has been my experience that my family enjoys fresh sausage in dynamic varieties in small batches more frequently than large batches of the Same Old Flavor.  Whatever grinder you buy, go ahead and order extra blades at that time. Blades are hard for any non-pro to sharpen, you're already paying for shipping, and when you're old and gray you won't have to worry about finding blades that fit a machine that night not be made anymore.

    I do not have a meat mixer...yet.  My Darling Husband is my "mixer", and he tires easily. The only thing preventing me from getting a good mixer (as Beer-B-Q insists I should have, and he is right) is SPACE.  They all look so darn big, and my basement kitchen is TINY.  I do mix my own from time to time, but usually take ibuprofen 30 minutes before to help with swelling. Cold meat, hot water and soap, cold meat, hot water and soap... Kills my joints every time and I am a happy wuss!! :)

    My stuffer is a 5lb hand crank.  Ignorantly, I bought one with nylon gears, and sure as hell, she busted with one too many cranks upward from my Darling Husband. I swapped out the busted nylons for LEM machined metal (yes, they fit just fine!!) and am back in business. Truth be told, just go metal gears from jump street and save yourself the drama.

    Five pounds is more than enough stuffer for most folks.  If you are doing back-to-back venison, go larger. If you are doing large batches of Same Old Flavor, go larger. If you have space to perma-bolt a 15lber down on your counter, go larger. HOWEVER... if you are inexperienced, and you cannot stuff fast enough, you are looking at LOTS of meat hitting dangerously warm temps as you fumble.

    I have a 5lb Grizzly and I love it for LOTS of reasons, but here's some:
    • She sets up and breaks down wicked fast.
    • My family can eat 5lb of fresh in a week.
    • No waste. All but 1TB will slide out.
    • I can swap flavors every five pounds. (Spicy? Peppery? Mustardy? Cheesy? Check!!!)
    • I can disinfect it in my dishwasher.
    I'm also including links to my grinder and stuffer tutorials. Please PM me if I can help in any way!!!




  14. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Hmmm... I am sensing the need for a Sausage Making Kitchen Equipment Rookie Post... Bus tubs, scale, good knives and a board... Maybe I ought to inventory the basement kitchen and get some pics up...
  15. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That would be awesome!!

    You might also post the old family kielbasa recipe I have begged for several times.....[​IMG]

  16. Good luck. I guess no one else is going to say it, I think the thread title is hilarious lol. [​IMG]  Sorry.
    franknap likes this.
  17. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I wasnt going to go there.
  18. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    Wow, thanks for all the good advice. I'm enjoying taking it all in.  Just goes to show what an outstanding web site this really is. If your looking to learn something about anything to do wiith meat, this is the place to be. RonP (GRHS) is surely looking out for all of us. Nothing out there even comes close. I've been glued to the Sausage Forum lately, Lots of great info there. Nepas is truely an inspiration, even if it does take 3 of them to "git 'er done". Now, I have some decisions to make. This is getting to be fun and I haven't even started yet.

    Smokinstevo27, ya just had to go ahead and point out the humor in the title didn't ya?  It went completely over my head until the other day, when I was posting something. Gandma was looking over my shoulder and just busted out laughing like crazy. Took awhile to get her calmed down enough to tell me what it was all about. She must be watching too much of that Weinergate stuff!
  19. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I have done 200-250 lbs in a day and hung in my smokehouse.

    This is safer than most people think, dont believe what the commy USDA is telling everyone.
  20. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member


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