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sausage making gear?

So I want to get into making my own sausages (links, not freeform - I already do that). A couple of friends have attachments for their stand mixer. That seems to work AOK for them and I'd do the same except that I don't already have a stand mixer :)

I'm not at all averse to getting a mixer & grinder attachment, in fact the multitasking ability of the mixer has an appeal to me. On the other hand, if there's something that's better for the task of sausage making that's the same price range or cheaper overall than mixer+grinder than I would rather go that route (where how much better the device is over mixer+grinder must be increases as the cost of the device approaches the cost of the mixer+grinder solution).

Anyone have suggestions?

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  1. I use the KA attachment and I get the casings from a local sausage company. The hunting supply stores sell casings and pro meat grinders. Gander Mountain and Cabela's are the two biggies that come to mind. You can have the butcher grind the meat and use a large caulking gun that is food safe to stuff the casings, Julia Child and Jacque pepin did a show on sausage making- my be your local library has it? Netflix does I think. J&J ground their meat in the food processor if I remember correctly.

    This is the definitive book on sausage making:
    HOME SAUSAGE MAKING, By C.G. Reavis & S.M. Peery.

    1. The best "tool" you can buy is Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's book "Charcuterie". Very detailed and goes into depth on whys/hows and is developed for the KA grinder attachment. http://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Cra...

      As for stuffer: the Grizzly 5lb vertical stuffer ;http://www.grizzlyindustrial.com/prod... is the recommended and real deal. Well constructed - not wildly expensive ~$80 delivered and you will pass it on to your grandchildren.

      I haven't read the Home Sausage Making book but as an engineer, I had complete confidence in the explanations in the Ruhlman book and haven't stopped since.

      1. Ah, tis indeed the year for charcuterie! I have a slab of pork belly in my fridge getting ready to be brined for bacon and pancetta. Made some free form sausage last week and plan to get the KA grinder. Not sure if I will spring for a casing stuffer just yet though.

        1. Second the Grizzly stuffer, EMPHATICATICALLY. The KA mixers have a very reasonable grinding attachment but the stuffer flat out sucks. Whether you are going to do this once a year or once a week, a stuffer is essential to do links and this Grizzly is well-made, easy to use, easy to clean and very effective.

          As far as a grinder; you will need some kind of special equipment. A cuisinart is good for emulsified sausages (weisswurst, for example) but not for much else. People have used hand grinders for decades with great success. Start there. You can find a decent used one on Craigslist for less than $30 if you are lucky. They last forever so don't be afraid to buy used. If you want to go the automated grinder route, I recommend springing for a KA mixer since it has so many applications besides grinding.

          Method is as critical in sausage as it is in baking so pay close attention to instructions. Ruhlman/Polcyn have a very good intro. If you don't want to spring for the book then at least flip through it at a bookstore and take detailed notes.

          Sadly, it isn't a cheap hobby nowadays, probably because so few places do it by hand anymore and so the lack of skill means a reliance on modern convenience.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Ernie Diamond

            Just curious if one of you folks can describe in what way the grizzly works better? Definitely, the grizzly + hand grinder is overall cheaper than KA + grinder, so my interest is piqued :)

            I've thought about trying the food processor route, but have read enough bad things that I don't know if I wanted to go that route. Although I do love weisswurst ....

            1. re: jgg13

              Sure. The Grizzly is what I would call a plunger action wherein the mix is loaded into the chamber (which holds five pounds, a typical batch) and the crank drives a plunger, forcing the meat through the hole at the bottom to which the stuffing tube is attached. This means the mix stays cool (good), can be done in one go (very good) and if it is affixed to the surface, you can easily manage the job on your own (great). If you were trying to win a race, you could probably stuff a five pound batch in less than a minute.

              By contrast, the KA stuffer or one that is attached to a grinder is driven by a screw. Little gobetts of meat must be dropped down the feeding chute to the screw. Attention must be paid to the feeding of the mix as well as to the meat being extruded. In my experience, this rarely goes smoothly; the mix must be pushed down with a stuffer and, since you are handling the meat in three and four ounce increments, you are more likely to warm the mix, introduce air pockets and break the (critical) emulsion. From a practical standpoint, the KA stuffer is about 14" off the countertop. This means that you have to "catch" or otherwise handle the sausages in the air as opposed to on the kitchen surface. Stuffing with the KA is not as easy to do on your own and I would go so far as to say should not be done on your own if you plan to keep your blood pressure at a manageable level. Timewise, you would have difficulty doing this well in less than fifteen minutes.

              Bottom line, after tinkering around with sausage for awhile, the Grizzly is the only tool that I would call essential for the job. The grinding, seasoning, mixing, etc. can all be managed (if necessary!) with whatever you have on hand.

              re. the food processor; don't use it for coarse sausage. Just don't. Emulsified is the only way to go with this machine and that is a very picky beast indeed.

              1. re: Ernie Diamond

                "Stuffing with the KA is not as easy to do on your own"

                I've heard my various friends mention that it is really a 2-person job, makes sense now.

              2. re: jgg13

                Just to be clear the KA has two attachments: One for grinding only and one for stuffing (which is grinder + stuffer). Ernie Diamond has it right. When using the KA grinder + stuffer option you are two hands short. You need one set to feed the grinder+stuffer and one set to manage the casing. Also, if you really grind and mix for the final time it's difficult to get your mix well incorporated into the final grind+stuff in small batches. With the Grizzly or other stuffer you have a fully ground and mixed potion ready to stuff. It's worth separating the steps after so much investment in time and cost.

                When I was a kid my folks made sausage with a hand grinder (good and I was the muscle) and a curved horn shaped stuffer. It worked okay (separate steps) but the horn isn't very smooth in operation and hard to keep full. They are virtually indestructible and readily available on ebay and such. Ruhlman/Polcyn recommend going a bit higher end and so do I.

                BTW as for spicing: Take a look at www.Penzeys.com for some of their German style mixes. I'm originally from Milwaukee and they definitely do it right.

                1. re: goatgolfer

                  I actually have a jar of their bratwurst seasoning. It is so old now thoguh that I really need to toss it, but I used it to make some bratwurst patties a long while now.

                  1. re: goatgolfer

                    I have the KA setup and admittedly don't make sausage a whole lot (at least not as much as I'd like to). Totally understand the need for hands, and that's why I've had a "sausage party" in the past and had guy friends to help.

                    If OP already had the mixer, I'd say it's fine for grinding a 5-lb batch. As long as you have your ingredients cold, and chill the grinder parts, too, it'll do fine. Plus it's a great tool for so many other things.

                    I've seen the Northern Tool stuffer (http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wc...) recommended elsewhere. May be the same machine as the Grizzly. Getting that over the KA stuffing tubes would be the likely next step for me.

                2. re: Ernie Diamond

                  Better than just flipping through it at a bookstore, check out your local library system. Ours had one on the shelf in the next town. If they don't have it, most libraries are more than happy to bring in interlibrary loans or even purchase requested books. Then you can check it out repeatedly. I will likely eventually buy it because there is simply NOTHING written that compares to it, but the library is a cost effective alternative for the time being.

                  Has anyone tried the old funnel method of stuffing?

                  dk

                  1. re: dani_k

                    Did you happen to see the No Reservations last week from Czech Republic where they slaughtered the pig and the butcher used his hand to fill the casing (squeezed the filling) into short lengths to make the sausage? Real old school and very cool.

                    1. re: goatgolfer

                      Haha. No! That sounds awesome. I don't have "TV" so have to resort to DVDs or downloads or YouTube when I want to catch episodes for stuff like that. Will have to keep an eye out for it.

                      1. re: goatgolfer

                        That was a very cool method, though I hazard that it came at the expense of many many many...many hours of sausagemaking.

                        The sausage resembled more of a white pudding than a conventional coarse sausage. I wonder whether one could do it in making say, bratwurst. My suspicion is no.