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Sausage making.... need equipment recommendations

kevin james

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I've decided I want to start dabbling in sausage making, but I don't really know what equipment I need aside from a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer, or what's decent vs. what's crap.

I'm looking for recommendations on equipment that's good quality, works efficiently, and will last, but not necessarily so top of the line that it will will break the bank, as this is something I want to start dabbling in, but I probably won't be doing a ton of. Really, I just want to make better use of my beef and pork trimmings and thought sausage making would be perfect for that. All that being said, I'm thinking of setting a budget at $400 for now for both the grinder and a stuffer. I could go up to $500 if it would make a huge difference, but I'd like to stay at $400 if possible.

Another thing I should point out is that I've looked around a little bit online and seen there are different sizes like #5, #8, #12 etc., but I really have no idea what that means.

I saw a recommendation for this Kitchener #12 by Chef jimmyj in another thread and am thinking about going with that for the grinder:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Kitchene...AMTbNe9fspQWQG2OivLyDA5YU1MxrqrBoCFokQAvD_BwE which would cost about $161 including tax and shipping, so not bad, I'm open to other recommendations though.

I also saw recommendations for the Lem #12: https://www.lemproducts.com/product/big-bite-grinder-12-head-size/butcher-meat-grinders, but that's way more expensive and would take my whole budget for now so I'd need to save for a stuffer later.

For the stuffer, I have no idea what to look at, so I definitely need some recommendations.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.
 

SmokinEdge

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The LEM Big bite #8 grinder is $315.00 their 5# stuffer is $153.00. Plus there is a 10% discount offered now. This is where I would start.
The difference in meat grinders,,,, #8, #12 and so on, is throat size and horse power, basically. The LEM #8 big bite is a beast. More than enough for the beginner.
 

JckDanls 07

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There's gonna be so many different opinions on grinders and stuffers...

I will say make sure you get both pieces of equipment seperatly... meaning get a stand alone stuffer... the grinder/stuffer all in one is a BIG pain in the butt ...

Also.. when looking at stuffers you will see some have the 90` elbow coming out of the very bottom of the stuffer... this leaves a lot of meat in the stuffer when the plunger gets all the way to the bottom... The stuffers that have the tube coming out the side at the very bottom are much better and leave very little product left in the canister ...

The LEM big bite 5# stuffer is an excellent choice to start out with as it has the tube out the side and it also has metal gears...

As for grinders.. I suggest the Cabelas 1/2hp commercial grinder... yes it will take most of the $400 budget (unless on sale)... but it will do anything and everything you ask of it... and in a hurry... It will also outlast you more than likely ...

These are the two pieces of equipment I have ...

You will also need mixing tubs.. 100% food grade spray silicone... Some kind of smoker that will handle really low temps... starting at 120` but only need to go to 180` max if your wanting to smoke some ... There will be other needs as well (all small items) ...
 

kevin james

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There's gonna be so many different opinions on grinders and stuffers...

I will say make sure you get both pieces of equipment seperatly... meaning get a stand alone stuffer... the grinder/stuffer all in one is a BIG pain in the butt ...

Also.. when looking at stuffers you will see some have the 90` elbow coming out of the very bottom of the stuffer... this leaves a lot of meat in the stuffer when the plunger gets all the way to the bottom... The stuffers that have the tube coming out the side at the very bottom are much better and leave very little product left in the canister ...

The LEM big bite 5# stuffer is an excellent choice to start out with as it has the tube out the side and it also has metal gears...

As for grinders.. I suggest the Cabelas 1/2hp commercial grinder... yes it will take most of the $400 budget (unless on sale)... but it will do anything and everything you ask of it... and in a hurry... It will also outlast you more than likely ...

These are the two pieces of equipment I have ...

You will also need mixing tubs.. 100% food grade spray silicone... Some kind of smoker that will handle really low temps... starting at 120` but only need to go to 180` max if your wanting to smoke some ... There will be other needs as well (all small items) ...

Looks like as far as stuffers go I'll get the Lem 5# stuffer as the price is definitely right. On the grinders, I'm going to have to think about it as the Cabellas, the Lem #12 and Lem #8 all look good, but also are all out of stock. The Lem #12 is supposed to be back in stock tomorrow though... and I'm thinking buy once cry once so that may be the way to go.

As far as the smoker goes, I assume you mean to cold smoke the sausages prior to vac sealing. Dumb question, but if I'm cold smoking, could I just stick a smoke tube in my offset's firebox or in my WSM to cold smoke them, or do I need something that will heat to about 120 as you mentioned?
 

chef jimmyj

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All good choices. I have the Kitchener #12 and it's fine. Had I the Funds, the LEM #12 Big Bite, would be my first and only choice.
Smoked CURED Sausage like Kielbasa, Andouille, etc. Are fully cooked before freezing.
The most common method is to put the sausage in a 120-130°F Smoker, No Smoke, for an hour to dry the casing. After that, start generating smoke and bump 10° (see note.) every hour, NOT, going above 170°F. The Sausage is done and ready to eat, hot, cold or reheated, at an Internal Temp (IT) of 150°F.
Note: There is no reason why you can't go from 130 right to 170°F. The gradually increase just gives more time in the smoke and more flavor. This gradual increase can be a PITA for some Stick or Charcoal Burners. Last, the sausage goes in an Ice Bath to cool and then get hung up to Bloom. See below...

That said and to answer your Question...YES...You can pump Cold Smoke, 40 to 120°F smoke into your Offset or WSM, for 8 to 12 hours or more, then, Poach the CURED Smoked Sausages in 165-170° Hot water until the IT reachest 150. It is best to plunge in Ice Water until cooled to 70° and Hang at room temp to Bloom an hour or 2. This sets the color and allows the casing to firm up.

Lots to learn but it all quickly becomes Second Nature, after you make a few batches of sausage...JJ
 

tallbm

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First thing that is good to know is how much sausage you plan to make in an attempt?
This is super important.

Be sure that when you pick a grinder you get one that does the job it ISNT too big. Some can be very large and heavy.
I run a 500watt grinder that is similar to this LEM #8 ($180 right now):

That LEM grinder has metal gears and does 4.5pounds per minute and weighs 13.5lbs.
I grind 100 pounds of meat in one sitting no problem with a similar spec'ed grinder so anything 0.25hp+ should get the job done for you unless you are doing some more heavy duty sausage making.


As for the stuffer, again how much sausage do you plan to make?
I do my sausage in like 20 pound batches so I got a 10L stuffer (22-23 pounds).
A key thing to know is that a stuffer NEVER actually stuffs the amount of meat it claims. So if you want to do 5 pound batches get a 7pound stuffer and so on. I think they make 11 pound stuffers which MAY do 10 pounds. A 5 pound stuffer does more like 4 pounds.

Also you want a stuffer with metal gears.
My stuffer is HUGE and heavy being a 22-23 pound stuffer BUT man it is a life saver when it comes to time spent stuffing. It is a real thing that you want to load as few loadings as possible or else you spend forever making sausage and reloading the stuffer!
One caveat though, if you are going to be stuffing sausage alone (no help) then bigger stuffers basically force this into a 2 man job because pushing 20 pounds of meat through a tube for natural hog casings size takes some real effort. A tube for filling 1 pound meat grind bags or summer sausage casings is not an issue, 1 man can do that but not natural hog castings or smaller diameter. Its a 2 person job, one to work the link, one strong healthy person to crank :)

Here's a 7pound stuffer I would be interested in if wanting to do 5 pound batches:
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As for other stuff, tubs, tubs, tubs, and cutting boards.
Meat Totes/Lugs
You want 7 inch meat totes/lugs and Academy has the best priced ones if you have an Academy near you:

It is mandatory to have 2. One to hold meat, and the other to transfer meat into. For example:
1 has uncubed/uncut meat. You cut the meat and move it to the other empty tub.
Now you stuff so you take the cut/cubed/strips of meat and grind them and the grind goes into the empty tub. These tubs/totes/lugs hold about 30-40 pounds of ground meat at a time.

I suggest you get at least 3 so you can have 1 extra for swapping meat in and out of the fridge to keep it cold if you are doing larger amounts of meat. Also the 3rd one is handy to have clean where the other 2 are getting coated with juice, blood, meat/fat smears and particles. A clean tub helps in the end to put cased sausage or to put your vac sealed end product into a container.

Big Cutting Boards
I suggest a pair of these as well: https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/game-winner-18-x-24-in-cutting-board#repChildCatid=7888004

A pair works well in case you have someone helping, Also you can lay one under the sausage stuffing tube so that you can work on that service and cut links and do anything needed on the cutting board vs a table.
Also having 2 helps whenever you have help.
1 or both people can be cutting meat into chunks while 1 person is feeding into the grinder an such. Having 2 is about productivity and efficiency. Plus again you might have one that is less messy so you dont have to do a full blown wash to reuse it for others tuff... like cutting sausage links which you dont want to do on a completely messy cutting board that you used for slicing/cutting meat strips and cubes for grinding.


Other Stuff:
Washable table clothes, at least 2 in case you have to process over 2 days or need to swap a really dirty one out for a clean one.

Fold out blow molded plastic tables if you need to process outside, in an area with tile, or like me in the garage where I can utilize the extra garage fridge. It sucks to have to walk with meat and mess through the house and over carpet, etc. Having a good mobile setup helps.

Disposable gloves - to not make such a mess, if get a case of 1000 and you can use them for all kinds of stuff

I have good spray bottles I fill with slightly diluted 99% rubbing alcohol for quick clean, and sanitation as needed. Often you dont have time to do a full wash of everything mid sausage making or processing, but you can douse it a all in alcohol and wipe up with paper towels and get a really good clean in the middle of sausage making/processing. Be sure to do a full wash at the end of the day no matter what.

Aprons - a pair helps so you and someone else can keep from getting a mess all over you, or if a 1 man job you can use one, then put in the wash and have another ready on day 2 of processing/sausage making

Ground Meat Tape Machine and 1lb Bags
To hell with hog rings and pliers if you are doing grind to store in 1 pound bags or lose breakfast/other sausage that is stored in bags. This little tape contraption is super fast, efficient, and completely awesome!

Also I suggest some 1 pound ground meat bags , I got a case of 1000 for Christmas a few years ago. I store 40-80lbs of pure grind every year (briskets go on sale for under $2/lb, and about 30-40lbs of pure venison grind from hunting).
Here's a link to 1lb ground beef bags:
amazon" style="max-width:120px">
I would gladly trade you a few hundred of my camo print Wild Game bags for some Beef Bags. I don't really do ground pork unless it's feral hogs but they usually all go into brats and franks not breakfast sausage and I just use a wild game bag for any lose ground hog meat anyhow :)
I do like a different color bag for my beef though.

Ok besides knives I think thats it, phew... Another encyclopedia length post from me :D
 
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bill ace 350

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Mayne get a stuffer first and have a butcher grind your meat until you decide on a grinder?

LEM makes some good stuffers, and ive heard good things about Hakka stuffere.

I have a LEM 5 pound stuffer and a LEM 20 pound motorized stuffer a Kitchener #12 stuffer and a grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer.

As far as meat lugs go, you can find food safe Sterlite containers with lids in many sizes for great prices.

If you will make large diameter sausages with fibrous casings, a pair of hog ring pliers and appreciate sized rings will help. You can get these at most good hardware stores.

Good luck!
 

Brokenhandle

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I can't add anything that hasn't already been said except...welcome to your new addiction!

Ryan
 

zwiller

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Marianski says to spend more on a stuffer than a grinder. I think it's a man thing that guys gravitate toward the grinders. Sure, if you bag a few deer a season by all means spend big on a grinder but a hand grinder will likely suffice for most guys. Mine was $15... As was said, using preground also works and did this a few times myself. I grabbed a Hakka clone for a stuffer and it works good but I just grabbed a jerky gun $30ish to mess with and loving that thing. All depends on batch size. I am doing 1Kg/2.2lbs for now. Remember all this stuff has to be cleaned and the bigger the gear the harder it is to do. Also, it will take time to dial in your process and produce a product you like so smaller batches work to your advantage. I can see LOTS of guys spending $500+ and doing big batches and losing interest because the end product lacks. I have done maybe a dozen batches now and getting happy with my results so I am upgrading my grinder and most likely doing the Kitchener above.
 

chopsaw

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I'm going to have to think about it as the Cabellas, the Lem #12 and Lem #8 all look good,
I have this one . I like it . Re-branded Kitchener . One up from the one JJ linked . 2 forward speeds and reverse . Has a 500 watt 2/3 HP DC motor . No. 12 head with quick release lever .
They run it on sale a lot around here . I've put a lot of meat thru that thing .
However , I used a hand crank grinder to get my feet wet before I invested in the rest .
 

kevin james

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Well, it's a done deal. I just placed my order for the Lem #12 Big Bite Grinder and 5# Stuffer. I have to say though that I am already a little annoyed with Lem for what seems like shady practices. They sent me two different discount codes which neither one seemed to do anything even though they said they were applied to the order.

The first code said 10% off the order, but again, the price didn't change. So I tried the second one which at least said free shipping.... nope.. still got charged shipping. So apparently the codes don't work for items already on sale, but the sale discount was less than the discount code, and apparently they charge a $7 fee for "free shipping". W... T.... F. Calling them tomorrow to rip them a new *sshole.

But aside from that, I can't wait for them to arrive!
 

pc farmer

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Cant beat Lem products. When you call them, give it to them I am sure they will make it right plus some. I been watching this but didnt comment cause I have a Hobart grinder, slicer and band saw from my grandpap. But I should have said I bought a Hakka 7 lb stuffer and love it. It has the big elbow at the bottom but I use the meat in dishes.
 

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