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Questions? Concerns?

Here are our experts' answers to your most common sausage making queries

Browse our FAQs by Category... 

 Grinders       Stuffers       Smoking       Cures       Dry Curing Tips

Collagen Casings       Synthetic Fibrous Casings       Hog Casings

Food Safety Guidelines       Storage and Handling       Making Sausage        

Miscellaneous        Making Jerky        Vacuum Sealers    Dehydrating

Product Shelf Life        Turkey Tips

 


 

 

Grinders

 

 

            How do I know which size grinder I have?

 

Measure the diameter of your grinder plates and the center hole:

 

      #8 Grinder:  Plate measures 2-7/16” in diameter with a 3/8” center hole
     #10 Grinder:  Plate measures 2-3/4” in diameter with a 3/8” center hole
     #22 Grinder:  Plate measures 3-1/4” in diameter with a 7/16” center hole
     #32 Grinder:  Plate measures 3-15/16” in diameter with a 1/2” center hole

 

            Why does the meat grind mushy?

 

There are several reasons why you may be having this problem:

 

  1. The locking ring is not on tight.
  2. The knife is on backwards.  Make sure the flat part of the knife is against the grinder plate.
  3. The meat is too warm, so instead of cutting the meat the grinder is ripping the meat.  Before you start grinding, put the meat in the freezer to form ice crystals.  Do not take out more than you can grind at one time.

 

            How do I clean my grinder before using it?

 

Before using, wash the hand operated grinders thoroughly with hot water and dish detergent.  After washing, rinse with cold water to bring the temperature of the plates down.  With our electric grinders, wash only the grinder head.

 

            How do I clean my grinder after using it?

 

Wash the grinder in hot water with dish detergent, making sure to get rid of all of the grease. Rinse thoroughly in hot water. Make sure the plates are completely dry, then coat with a food grade silicone lubricant, such as Sausage Maker item #31420, Silicone Lubricating Grease.

 

            Why is the meat not grinding through the grinder plate?

 

Your meat is too warm.  Instead of cutting the meat, the grinder is ripping the meat and it's getting caught on the grinder plate causing a blockage.  Before you start grinding, put the meat in the freezer to form ice crystals.  Do not take out more meat than you can grind at one time.

 

 

Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

 

Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

 

By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

 

Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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Stuffers

 

            How do I use my stuffer?

 

When the meat has been mixed with the spices and is ready for stuffing, first attach the appropriate stuffing tube to the stuffer.  The size of the stuffing tube depends on the size of the casing being used—the casing should fit over the end of the stuffing tube without much difficulty.  With our 3 lb. stuffers, simply lift the handle, put the meat into the stuffer, and push the handle down.  This motion will force the meat into the casing.  When using our 5, 15, or 25 lb. stuffers, first crank the handle all the way up, so the platen is above the cylinder.  The cylinder can then be removed, filled with your meat, and replaced into the frame.  Then crank the handle back down, forcing the meat into the casing.

 

            When do I stuff the sausage?

 

We strongly recommend that the meat mixture be packed into the sausage stuffer right after it is mixed and then quickly stuffed into the casings while it is still easy to work with. When salt, spices and other ingredients are added to the meat, the mixture will stiffen or “set up,” very much like cement.  In this stage it becomes very difficult to push the mixture through your stuffer, and will cause unnecessary wear on the gears of a geared sausage stuffer.

 

            How do I stop the backup of meat with my 3 lb. sausage stuffer?

 

You can either wrap the platen (the part of the stuffer that pushes the meat) with tin foil or cover it with a plastic freezer bag.  This will eliminate some of the backup yet still let the air escape while stuffing.

 

            Should I wash the white grease off of the stuffer gears?

 

No.  This grease you see is a food grade grease (item #31410) and is not harmful if digested.  The open gears on our 5 and 15 lb. stuffers should be lubricated after approximately every fifth or sixth use.  Our 25 lb. stuffer also has a food grade lubricating grease on its gears and the flat bar that is attached to the platen.  As with our 5 and 15 lb. stuffers, the flat bar should also be lubricated after approximately every fifth or sixth use.

 

            How do I clean my sausage stuffer?

 

The 3 lb. stuffers should be completely washed with hot, soapy water before the first use and after every subsequent use.  Be sure to allow the stuffer to dry thoroughly before storing.

 

The 5, 15, and 25 lb. stuffer cylinders and pistons should be washed with a mild dish detergent and hot water before the first use and after every subsequent use.  Be sure to allow the stuffer and all parts to dry thoroughly before storing.

 

Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

 

Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

 

By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

 

Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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Smokehouses

 

            What happens during the smoking process?

 

During the smoking process, smoke emits acids which cling to the meat and to the outside layer of skin.  This acid helps preserve the meat by preventing the growth of surface mold and bacteria compounds.

 

            How long does it take to smoke a sausage?

 

A 19 mm casing takes approximately 7 hours, a 32-35 mm casing takes approximately 8 hours, a 3 1/2” synthetic casing may take up to 12 hours, and a ham can take a couple of days.

 

            How do I know when the meat is smoked?

 

You can identify that your meat is fully smoked by the distinctive color that develops as a result of the carbon compounds combining with the meat pigments.  Also, the cures that are used will give smoked meat a red color.

 

            What is the difference between using chips or sawdust during smoking?

 

While chips burn faster, sawdust will last longer.

 

           How do I use the sawdust?

 

The sawdust or wood chips should be dampened, yet not soaked.  Dampened sawdust will burn for a longer period of time and will impart gentle flavors into the meat.  To dampen, place sawdust in a bucket or bowl and squirt with a water bottle.  You should mix the sawdust as you add the water to make sure all of the sawdust is moistened. There are three ways to check if your sawdust has reached the proper dampness: 1. There should be no visible water collecting in the bottom of the sawdust pan, 2. All of the sawdust should now be a darker color, 3. When you pick up a little more than a pinch of sawdust and squeeze it in your fingers, water should not drip out. It is recommended to put a cone shaped hole in the middle of the sawdust for more efficient smoke output. The amount of sawdust used greatly depends upon individual taste. Using one full pan is a good place to start, but you can use more if you desire a stronger taste.

 

            Which flavors of sawdust/woodchips can I use?

 

The most popular is hickory sawdust (item #49320), followed by mesquite (item #49313), apple (item #49311) and cherry woodchips (item #49312).  The decision is based on personal taste for the final smoked product.

 

            Can I cold smoke with my Sausage Maker smokehouse?

 

It all depends on what you mean by "cold smoke".  Cold smoking refers to a smoking process in which the heat source is in one area while the smoke is forced into another area where the meat product is.  In other words, the meat will have a smoked flavor, but will not be exposed to heat.

 

If you are referring to making sausage and keeping the temperature within the 170 degree area, then yes, this is what our smokehouses are designed for.  Smoking sausage is a slow process.  The temperature of the smokehouse should be between 165 degrees and 170 degrees. When the temperature rises higher, between 170 degrees and 200 degrees, the fat breaks down, and over 200 degrees you will melt the fat.

 

            Can I use liquid smoke and still use my smoker?

 

Yes, you can.  Just add liquid smoke to your spices and mix with the meat.  Then proceed to use the smokehouse at the low temperatures as instructed.

 

            Can I put more sausage in my smokehouse than suggested?

 

No.  If overloaded, the time from start to finish will be greatly increased.  Also, if the meat is touching there will be discoloration where the smoke was not able to penetrate the meat.

 

            Can I do BBQ Ribs in my smokehouse?

 

No.  The Sausage Maker Smokers are made for the sole purpose of smoking meat and are meant for temperatures no higher than 170 degrees. If the temperature goes higher the fat melts, which can cause the heating element to burn out or may cause a fire in the smokehouse itself.

 

            Why was there liquid on the bottom of my smokehouse after smoking?

 

Your temperature was too high and it melted the fat in the meat.

 

            My sausage does not look good—it is shriveled. What do you think was the problem?

 

There could be several reasons for these results.  The temperature may have risen too high and either melted or repositioned the fat.  Also, the sausage may not have been showered with cold water immediately after it was finished smoking.  Finally, the sausage casings may not have been stuffed to their full capacity.

 

            Most of my sausage has a nice mahogany color, but there are areas of white spots. Why?

 

If the sausage was touching during smoking, the smoke was not able to penetrate that area, leaving a white spot after smoking.  There is no problem with your sausage.

 

Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

 

Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

 

By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

 

Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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Cures

 

            Why should I use cures?

 

Cures are primarily used to prevent botulism (food poisoning), as well as to impart flavor and some preservation to the sausage.  The nitrite combines with the pigment of the meat to form a pink color as well as to flavor the meat.  For example, a leg of hog, better known as the ham, when cooked or roasted is roast pork.  When the same piece is injected with cures, it them becomes a ham.

 

FRESH SAUSAGES ARE NEVER CURED! Only products that are smoked, cooked, or dry cured need a cure.

 

            Which cure do I use--#1 or #2?

 

Insta Cure #1 is used to cure all meats that require cooking, smoking, and canning, and is also used when making jerky.  Meats requiring Insta Cure #1 would include poultry, fish, hams, bacon, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates, etc.

 

Insta Cure #2 is specifically formulated for dry cured products.  These products don't require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration.  Insta Cure #2 can be compared to the time-release capsules used for the common cold—the sodium nitrate first breaks down into sodium nitrite and then into nitric oxide to cure the meat over extended periods of time.

 

            What is Insta Cure #1 made of?

 

Insta Cure #1 is made of a small amount of sodium nitrite on a salt carrier.  (1 oz. of sodium nitrite is mixed with 1 lb. of salt.)

 

            What is Insta Cure #2 made of?

 

Insta Cure #2 is made of a small amount of sodium nitrite along with sodium nitrate and salt.  (1 oz. of sodium nitrite is mixed with .64 ounces of sodium nitrate to each pound of salt.)

 

            How much cure do I use?

 

When mixed directly into the meat, 1 level teaspoon of cure should be used for every 5 lbs. of meat, whether it will be smoked or dry cured sausage.  If you are making a brine solution, like for a ham, use 4 ounces of cure for each gallon of water.

 

            Which cure do I use when making jerky?

 

Insta Cure #1.

 

            Can I reuse a brine?

 

No, brines cannot be reused.  The juice of the meat dilute the brine solution and it becomes contaminated with bacteria.

Dry Curing Tips
 
  • Semi-Dry & Dry curing depends on a combination of proper temperature and humidity.
  • Humidity levels from 60-80%, as specified by the recipe, will allow the sausage to dry from the inside out.
  • If the humidity is too low the sausage will dry on the outside first, trapping the moisture in the center. This will cause the meat to spoil.
  • A hygrometer is helpful for gauging the humidity level of the drying environment.
  • Semi-Dry & Dry curing requires Insta CureTMNo. 1 or 2.
  • Insta CureTMNo. 2 works like a time release capsule. Sodium nitrite is released over time to prevent the meat from spoiling.
  • The casings should shrink with the meat. The best casings for this are natural casings or protein-lined casings.
  • Stuff the casings tight to remove any air pockets. If not avoided, these could trap mold.
  • Mold on the outside of the casings is normal because of the high humidity. However, you want to wipe this off with a vinegar solution. Any mold accumulation will prevent moisture from escaping from the sausage.
  • You do NOT want any mold to form on the inside of the casing. If this happens, it cannot be removed and you will have to discard the meat.
  • To increase the humidity in your drying chamber, take a handful of salt, place in the bottom of a cookie sheet and cover with water. This is placed at the bottom of the chamber and can be refreshed as needed.
  • Properly prepared dry cured sausage will lose 30-35% of its green weight. The time required to do this will vary depending upon temperature, humidity and the diameter of the sausage.

     

     

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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    Collagen Casings

     

                What are collagen casings made of?

     

    Collagen casings are made from the hide of cattle.

     

                Are collagen casings edible?

     

    Yes, collagen casings are edible.

     

                Can I smoke with collagen casings?

     

    There are two different kinds of collagen casings—one for fresh sausage (item #27800and item #27820) and another for smoked sausages (item #27910, item #27920and item #27930).  The fresh collagen casings are thinner and therefore cannot withstand the hanging pressure in a smokehouse.  These casings will split and break, but are tender when eating.  The smoked collagen casings are thicker casings made for the smoking process.  These casings are edible, but we suggest peeling them away because of their toughness.

     

                How do I prepare and store a collagen casing?

     

    There is no preparation.  Simply take them out of the packing and put them right onto the stuffing horn.  There is no rinsing, soaking or mess.  Keep these casings in the refrigerator when not in use. If casings are stored in the refrigerator at 30-50° F wrapped in plastic wrap they should last up to 2 years.

     

                My collagen casings became dry. Is there anything I can do?

     

    Dip the casing in tap water for a few seconds, this should bring them around. DO NOT SOAK!  If they are still dry and brittle, then, unfortunately, they cannot be used.

               Can I link sausage with collagen casings?

     

    No. Collagen casings must be tied off as they will break if linked. However, natural casings can be used to make linked sausage.

     

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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    Synthetic Fibrous Casings

     

                What are synthetic fibrous casings made of?

     

    Synthetic casings are man-made with fibers running lengthwise which give them added strength.

     

                Are synthetic casings edible?

     

    No, these casings are not edible.

     

                What are synthetic casings generally used for?

     

    Synthetic casings are most commonly used for making pepperonis, beef sticks, bologna, cooked salamis, liverwurst, etc.

     

                How do I prepare these synthetic casings for use?

     

    Soak synthetic casings in tap water for 20-30 minutes.  Make sure that the water gets inside the casing as well as covering the outside.

     

                Which casings should I use—plain or protein lined?

     

    If you are making a dry cured product, such as pepperonis or hard salamis, you would use the protein lined casings.  These casings will shrink as the meat is shrinking, which will result in a better looking product.  On the other hand, smoked products would require the use of the plain casings.

     

                When would I use the mahogany colored casings?

     

    These casings would be used when adding liquid smoke to the meat.  The mahogany casings give the sausage a nice color, making it look like it was smoked with sawdust.

     

                 Do these casings let the smoke penetrate?

     

    Yes, synthetic casings are porous and allow the smoke to penetrate into the meat.

     

                 Why did my casing split?

     

    The casing was either overstuffed or was insufficiently soaked. Also, the temperature of the smokehouse may be too high.

     

                Why did my casing wrinkle?

     

    The casing was either under stuffed or was not cooled fast enough after smoking.

     

                Why did the casing separate from the meat?

     

    The casing was either not properly soaked, under stuffed, or the temperature in the smokehouse was too high during smoking/cooking.

     

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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    Hog Casings

     

                How do I prepare a salted hog or sheep casing for stuffing?

     

    Preparation should be completed as follows:

     

    1. Unravel the casings into separate strings.
    2. Rinse the salt from the casings with fresh water.  When flushing the casings, the outside should be washed.  This usually takes care of itself as the water is being flushed through the inside.
    3. Store casings with ends hanging over the top in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight.
    4. Prior to stuffing, place the casing into lukewarm tap water.  This will allow the casing to slide more easily onto the stuffing tube.
    5. Introduce a generous amount of water into the casings before placing it onto the stuffing nozzle.
    6. Slide the casing over the nozzle.
    7. During the course of stuffing, always try to keep the casing to the front of the nozzle where the meat is coming out.  This helps eliminate air pockets and breakage.

     

               Why do my hog casings have a strong odor?

     

    Salted casings have a very long shelf life when stored properly. When refrigerated, packed liberally in purified salt, they have an indefinite shelf life. Un-refrigerated, these salted casings quickly begin to give off a strong odor even though they are not spoiled. Put them back under refrigeration and this odor for the most part subsides.

                Can leftover casings be reused?

     

    If you don't use all of the casings, they can be re-salted and kept in the refrigerator.  Squeeze out as much water as possible.  When fairly dry, sprinkle salt on the casings. DO NOT USE IODIZED SALT—PURIFIED SALT WOULD BE BEST.

     

                Why are my casings tough?

     

    By nature, natural casings can sometimes be tough.  Rinsing and flushing (see above) help make a casing tender.  However, here are some more suggestions from our sausage specialists:

     

    When smoking sausage, do not put a stuffed sausage from the refrigerator into a hot smokehouse.  The sausage should sit at room temperature for a couple of hours and then put into a warm smokehouse, gradually increasing the temperature until the desired smoking temperature is reached.  Too much heat will almost guarantee that the casings will be tough.

     

    Never put a sausage into boiling water.  Instead, start cooking in cold water, bringing the temperature up gradually.  The water should be brought to a boil and then simmered until the sausage is fully cooked.

     

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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    Food Safety Guidelines

     

    Bacteria can spread throughout a work area and contaminate equipment and work surfaces.  To reduce your risk of food poisoning we suggest the following:

     

    • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before beginning to work as well as after changing tasks
    • Start with clean equipment and clean thoroughly after using.  Be sure all surfaces that come into contact with the meat are clean as well.  To clean surfaces use 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water.  Allow surface to air dry.
    • If using frozen meat to make sausage, thaw in a refrigerator on the lowest shelf to avoid dripping of juices on ready-to-eat foods.  Keep raw meat separate from other foods.
    • Marinate raw meat in the refrigerator.
    • Keep meat as cold as possible (40° F or lower) during processing.

     

     

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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    Storage and Handling

     

    We make the following suggestions to best keep your sausage fresh:

     

    Fresh Sausage (Breakfast Sausage, Italian Sausage, Bratwurst, etc.):  Keep refrigerated, cook thoroughly before eating, consume within 3 days or freeze.  Can be vacuum sealed and frozen.

     

    Cooked Smoked Sausage (Polish Sausage, Wieners, Bologna , Venison Summer Sausage, Venison Salami, etc.):  Keep refrigerated, consume within 7 days or freeze.  Can be vacuum sealed and frozen.

     

    Dry Cured Sausage (Genoa Salami, Pepperoni, etc.):  Does not require refrigeration, but refrigeration is suggested to preserve the best quality.

     

    Semi-dry Sausage (Lebanon Bologna, Cervelot, Summer Sausage, Thuringer, etc.):  For best quality, keep refrigerated.

     

    Cooked Meat Specialties (Loaves, Head Cheese, Scrapple):  Keep refrigerated, consume within 3 days.  Some can be vacuum sealed and frozen.

     

    Jerky:  Store in brown paper in the refrigerator.  Can be vacuum sealed.

     

     

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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    Making Sausage

     

                What type of sausage can I make using venison?

     

    You can make any type of sausage you want using venison.  It isn't the meat that makes the sausage, it's the spices.

     

                Do I have to add pork or beef to my sausage?

     

    Yes.  Venison is a lean meat and without fat the meat would be dry.  Fat makes the sausage juicy and adds flavor.  For 10 lbs. of sausage, start with 7 lbs. of venison and 3 lbs. of fatty pork or beef.

     

                What if I don't want to add pork or beef to my venison sausage?

     

    You can add a fat replacer (item #17600) to your venison.  Fat replacer helps bind your lean meat together and helps retain any juices that are already in the meat.

     

                What size grinding plate do I need for making sausage?

     

    Most sausage is ground through a 1/4” or a 3/16” grinding plate.  Most recipes will indicate which grinding plate to use.

     

                How do I get emulsified meat?

     

    To make emulsified meat, cut meat into 1” cubes and put into a food processor.  Continue processing until the meat is a paste consistency.  This type of meat is used in making wieners and bologna.

                Why is the meat not grinding through the grinder plate?

     

    Your meat is too warm.  Instead of cutting the meat, the grinder is ripping the meat and it's getting caught on the grinder plate causing a blockage.  Before you start grinding, put the meat in the freezer to form ice crystals.  Do not take out more meat than you can grind at one time.

     

    Cant find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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     Miscellaneous

                How do I calibrate my pocket digital thermometer?

    In order to "calibrate" pocket thermometers, simply place them in a slushy ice-water bath of mostly ice with just enough water to stir.  Leave them for 1 minute, then stir, wait 15 seconds longer and take a reading.  Your thermometer should read 32 to 33 degrees.  If it does not, simply attach a small piece of medical tape to the head of the unit, noting the variation.  An example would be "+1 degree Farenheit" or "-2 degrees Farenheit."

    You will find that these thermometers are rarely off more than 1 degree Farenheit.  If they have all "8's" or partial numbers showing, the LCD display is broken.  On rare occasions unusual readings can occur due to electronic currents affecting the circuit board.   In this case you would remove the battery for 30 seconds.  When it is replaced, the thermometer circuit board will be reset back to factory settings.  If this happens often, consider your environment.  Do not store your pocket digital on top of a computer monitor, a television or a microwave.

       

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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     Making Jerky

               What meat can I use to make jerky?

    The leaner the meat, the better the flavor of your jerky will be and the faster it will dry. For either ground meat or jerky strips, use beef round, sirloin, venison, buffalo or elk.

               For Ground Meat Jerky can I use meat that has been ground and frozen?

    Yes, as long as you thaw it in the refrigerator and it was fresh meat when it was frozen.

               Should I use cures when making jerky?

    Yes you should use sodium nitrite. The cure helps prevent botulism which can easily be produced when drying meat at low temperatures.

               How can I make ground jerky strips?

    Using Sausage Maker seasoning, mix all ingredients until all liquid is absorbed. Next line a square cake pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough wrap to completely cover the meat. Place the seasoned meat in the cake pan about 3/4" to 1" high. Pack well, especially the corners. Wrap meat with extra plastic wrap and remove from the cake pan. Place in the freezer overnight. Slice the frozen meat with a serrated knife about 1/4" thick. If meat is too hard, let thaw slightly. Meat is than placed on drying rack or screen and placed in oven, smoker or dehydrator.

               When do I know the Jerky is done?

    Jerky is ready when it dry around the edges and rubbery in the middle.

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

     

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     Vacuum Sealers

    General Vacuum Sealing
    Non-Chamber Units
    Chamber Units
    Troubleshooting

    General Vacuum Sealing

         What kind of products can I vacuum seal?

    Vacuum sealers can be used to vacuum package most kinds of foods as well as household items. However, there are certain guidelines that should be followed to maximize the capabilities of your vacuum sealer:

    Vegetables should not be vacuum sealed fresh. It is best to blanch them(place in boiling water until the are hot, yet still crunchy), then submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process. This will allow the vegetables to retain their color and firmness. You may then continue with the vacuum sealing. You can also freeze the fresh vegetables and then continue the vacuum sealing process. If this is not followed, they will emit a gas after they have been vacuum sealed that will interfere with the vacuum seal of the bag.

    Any food, such as meat or fish, that is very moist, is best vacuum sealed after it has been frozen. The excess moisture in the food will interfere with the sealing phase. Likewise, more delicate foods, such as bread or fruit, which are likely to be compressed under the pressure of vacuum sealing should also be frozen first to help the product hold its shape.

    Non-chamber units cannot vacuum seal liquids. To package liquid items, first freeze them into a solid form. They can then be vacuum packaged and stored in the freezer to maintain the frozen state.

    Items that are in powder form, such as flour, sugar or spices, should be sealed in a package. If sealed loose, the powder will get sucked into the vacuum sealer and will eventually interfere with the vacuum sealer's performance.

    Your vacuum sealer can also be used to seal household items and valuables. By sealing out the oxygen, you will prevent metals from tarnishing. Likewise, once vacuum packaged, your items will be safe from water.

    Any sharp or pointed items should be given some padding, such as a paper towel or an extra bag, to prevent the edges from puncturing the bag during sealing.

         Will vacuum sealing my food prevent spoilage?

    No. While removing the oxygen from the package will prevent the growing of some bacteria, botulism can develop in oxygen-free environments. You must refrigerate or freeze the vacuum sealed packages. This is especially the case for fresh meat, produce and dairy products. Do not, under any circumstances, vacuum package food that has already spoiled. If you open a vacuum sealed package and find that the food has spoiled while sealed, discard the food. Do not eat or re-seal.

         How long will the vacuum sealed food last?

    If properly done, vacuum sealing will drastically extend the life of your food. The following are approximate shelf lives for vacuum sealed products:

    Fresh Meat:To maximize product life, store fresh meat in the freezer. Fresh meat should maintain its freshness for 2-3 years. Under refrigeration alone, fresh meat should last 2-4 weeks.

    Ground Meat:To maximize product life, store ground meat in the freezer. If vacuum sealed properly, this product should last for up to 1 year. If refrigerated, ground meat should last for 1 month.

    Fish:To maximize product life, store fish in the freezer. Once frozen, vacuum packaged fish will last for up to 2 years. If refrigerated, fish should last 1 week.

    Fresh Produce:To maximize product life, store fresh produce in the freezer. This product may also be stored in the refrigerator, but this storage method will considerably reduce the shelf life. Vegetables, if blanched, will last in the freezer for 2 1/2 years. If refrigerated, the shelf life is reduced to 3 weeks. Fruits, if frozen, will last for up to 2 years, yet if refrigerated they should maintain their freshness for 2 weeks.

    Cheese:Cheese should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. If sealed properly, cheese will have a shelf life of approximately 6 months. Please note that if you plan open and reseal the cheese, you should start with a larger bag to allow for multiple uses.

    Breads:Breads, which includes items such as cookies or crackers, may be stored at room temperature. They should maintain their freshness for up to 6 weeks.

    Grains:Grains, including pasta and nuts, may be stored at room temperature. They will have a shelf-life of 1 1/2 - 2 years.

         Do I have to use vacuum seal bags?

    Yes. Vacuum seal bags are the only type of bag that will work properly in a vacuum sealer. The seal bar on these machines gets quite hot, and ordinary kitchen bags will melt under this kind of heat, ruining your vacuum sealer.

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    Non-Chamber Units

         How does the vacuum sealer work?

    These non-chamber style vacuum sealers have both a seal bar and a vacuum channel. The vacuum channel pulls the air out of the bag. Once all air has been removed, the seal bar, which heats up, will slightly melt and seal the edge of the bag closed.

    Be careful not to touch the seal bar as it will result in a burn. The lid of the vacuum sealer should be left open between sealing each bag to allow the unit to cool properly and prevent overheating. If the seal bar is so hot that it melts through the edge of the bag, the seal bar is overheating and must be allowed to cool.

    It is essential that you read and fully understand the operating manual provided with your vacuum sealer prior to use as there are details specific to each model.

         What is the difference between Auto and Manual Mode?

    While operating in Auto Mode, your vacuum sealer will automatically move through the vacuuming and sealing processes. The machine's sensor will monitor the air removal and switch to sealing mode once all of the air has been removed from the sealing bag.

    On the other hand, manual mode requires that you set the times for both the vacuuming and the sealing phases. Many models have a “Seal Now” feature, allowing you to interrupt the vacuuming phase and switch to sealing instantaneously.

         What size bag should I use?

    Our pre-cut bags will be appropriate for these non-chamber models. Choose the size bag based on the size of the product being sealed. You should allow approximately 3” of space as well as an additional allowance if you plan to re-seal the bag later.

    Be careful as to the size of the bag you are using. Too much extra space will cause ripples and folds to be created during the vacuuming process. However, if the bag is too small, the seal will be too tight, making the finished bags prone to holes or tears.

         Can I reuse the vacuum bags?

    Yes. If the food inside the package has not spoiled, you may seal the bag and use it again. Likewise, the vacuum seal bags are dishwasher safe. You may wash any food or meat remnants off of the inside of the bag, dry it thoroughly and use the same bag to package other food.

    These bags may also be microwaved or boiled to cook or defrost the food inside the bag. However, it is not recommended that you re-use a bag that has been boiled or put in the microwave.

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    Chamber Units

         What is the difference between the Chamber and Non-Chamber units?

    The most significant difference is that Chamber models can be used to package liquids. It is for this reason that they require different bags.

    Also, Chamber units feature a more powerful vacuum and therefore will result in a longer shelf life for your food. Rather than a vacuum channel, Chamber units feature a vacuum pump.

    The bag, filled with the product you are packaging, is placed inside the chamber and the lid is closed. The machine will vacuum and seal the bag, releasing the lid when the process is finished.

    It is important that you refer to the operating manual provided with your vacuum sealer for model-specific operation details. It is essential that you fully understand the operating procedure prior to first using your vacuum sealer.

         How long do I run the unit to vacuum seal the packages?

    You must set both the Vacuum Timer as well as the Seal Bar Timer. A higher vacuum time will be required for large packages, items with high moisture content and packages with a great amount of empty space left in the bag or in the unit. You should strive to set the unit to the lowest amount of time necessary to give the desired amount of vacuum. A higher vacuum time will be required for thicker bags. The bag should be sealed until the edge is smooth and fully sealed along the entire length of the bag.

         What bag size should I use?

    The bag should be large enough to accommodate the items being packaged while still allowing enough room for sealing. If you make an effort to use a bag and package size that fills the chamber of your unit, you will find that the vacuum time will be less.

    Bags vary in thickness as well. The standard thickness of 3mm is adequate for most items. However, thicker bags are available for larger or potentially sharp items such as meat with the bone left in. These bags will help prevent any holes from developing.

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    Troubleshooting

         My vacuum sealer won't turn on - what is the problem?

    The vacuum sealer should be plugged in, only using a grounded outlet. Examine the power cord for frays or any disconnected plugs, either at the wall or the back of the vacuum sealer. If the power cord is damaged, the vacuum sealer must not be used until it has been replaced. Similarly, check that there is power running to the outlet that you are using. If there is not, this could be caused by a blown circuit breaker or damaged outlet.

    Refer to the operating manual provided with your vacuum sealer for model-specific suggestions for this problem.

         My vacuum sealer doesn't remove all of the air from the bag - why?

    First make sure that the bag is underneath the sealing bar and that the surface is clean, dry and smooth. Any liquids or food product in between the bag layers will prevent the process from being completed properly. Any wrinkles or folds in the bag will also interfere with the vacuum sealer's operation.

    Make sure that the other three sides of the bag are completely sealed and that the bag has no holes in it. Any openings will prevent the air from being removed.

    If you are using your vacuum sealer in Manual Mode, adjust the vacuuming and sealing times to a higher setting.

         Why isn't the vacuum bag sealing?

    Be sure that the surfaces between the two layers of the vacuum bag are clean and dry. Liquid or food on the surface will prevent the bag from sealing.

    If you are using your vacuum sealer in Manual Mode, the sealing time may need to be longer.

         Why does the bag, once vacuumed and sealed, lose its vacuum?

    Make sure that there are no holes or tears in the bag from sharp items being sealed. Pasta, bones or sharp household items can cause this to happen.

    Any vegetables should be blanched before they are packaged. If not, they will emit a gas into the bag.

    If the surface between the two layers of the bag wasn't clean, dry and smooth, this will interfere with the seal. While the package may have appeared properly sealed, there could have been leaks.

    If the food inside has not spoiled, you may reseal the package.

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    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

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    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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     Dehydrating

                How do I use the drying sheets to make fruit leather?

    Grease the drying sheet up to 1" away from the edge. Pour the fruit puree onto the drying sheet. The mixture will not run past the lubricated area on the drying sheet.

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    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

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     Product Shelf Life

    Insta Cure No. 1 and Insta Cure No. 2

    Needs to be Kept:
    • Dry
    • Out of the sunlight
    • At room temperature

    If product is still pink and grainy, it is still considered good. If moisture gets in, the cure will be clumpy and should not be used. The longest we have kept the product is 1 1/2 years.

    Soy Protein Concentrate

    Needs to be Kept:
    • Dry
    • Out of the sunlight
    • At room temperature

    Product does not spoil, but after a long period of time can be affected by bugs, just like flour.

    Non-Fat Dry Milk

    Needs to be Kept:
    • Dry
    • Out of the sunlight
    • At room temperature

    Product does not spoil.

    Corn Syrup Solids

    Needs to be Kept:
    • Dry
    • Out of the sunlight
    • At room temperature

    The product hardens easily. If it clumps together, it is not spoiled. Break it up any way you can. Customers suggest placing a couple marshmallows in the package to absorb moisture.

    Fermento

    Needs to be Kept:
    • Dry
    • Out of sunlight
    • At room temperature

    If moisture gets in, the fermento will be clumpy and should not be used. The longest we have kept the product is 1 year.

    Powdered Dextrose

    Needs to be Kept:
    • Dry
    • Out of the sunlight
    • At room temperature

    Powdered dextrose is a form of sugar and should be treated as regular sugar. If it can be broken up by hand, it is still usable.

    Purified Salt

    Treat purified salt just like the salt you have in your cupboard.

     

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     Turkey Cooking Tips

    • Before purchasing your Turkey figure out how many guests you will have. There should be approximately 1 lb of turkey per person.
    • When purchasing a frozen Turkey, remember that the bird takes about one day per 5 pounds of turkey to thaw properly.
    • Whatever cooking method you use to prepare your turkey, allowing the Turkey to brine is always a good idea. Brine helps break down proteins, helps the muscle tissue to swell and absorb flavoring better, resulting in a tender, juicier bird.
    • For the beginner or inexperienced cook, roasting your turkey is the easiest method. The oven keeps a constant temperature, basting and checking the internal temperature can be done periodically by just opening the oven door.
    • For the more experienced and adventurous cook, smoking or deep frying your turkey will definitely make for a delicious alternative, not to mention free up your oven for some delicious thanksgiving treats.
    • The benefits to smoking a turkey is that it's almost impossible to overcook. The temperature in the smoker remains low and cooking is slow, resulting in perfectly moist and tender meat.
    • When smoking your turkey try using some flavored wood chips to complement the meat. Choose from Mesquite, Cherry, or Apple.
    • Instead of purchasing one large turkey you can choose to purchase two medium sized birds and cut the cooking time. Then you can display one whole bird on the table and have the other cut for serving.
    • Once your turkey is done, remember to let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving. The meat will stand up better to carving because the Turkey will have relaxed from the cooking process and the juices will have been redistributed throughout the turkey.

     

    Can't find the answer to your question?  Contact our Customer Service Department:

     

    Via email: customerservice@sausagemaker.com

     

    By Phone:  (716) 824-5814, Monday - Friday,8:30am - 4:30pm EST

     

    Our product specialists will do their best to help you with all of your sausage making needs.

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