Guide Outdoors Food Processing

DIY Meat Processing Shop: Tools of the Trade

 

“Tonight, disconnect from your Facebook account and invite your real friends over for a truly wild game plan.”

 

Yes, it reads like a fortune cookie, but it’s advice well worth considering. If you’re someone who likes learning new skills, and prefers socializing in-person rather than over the blogosphere, then maybe it’s time to try something new.

This season, gather your deer camp compadres and build yourselves a DIY shop for processing your own wild game. The advantages are many, from filling your mind (and freezer) with the satisfaction of learning new skills, to saving a few bucks. Plus, you’ll know with certainty that the deer you’ve processed is yours, and not someone else’s.

Setting up shop in your garage will give you and your buddies a place to split up the work, and swap hunting stories. And if you split the costs of a few helpful processing tools, you’ll easily recoup your expenses after a season or two.

 

Helpful Tools: An Overview

This resource is for those relatively new to the wild meat processing game. The tools covered are used after you’ve already properly field dressed and skinned your deer.

Tools of the trade #1: Meat Cutting Saw

Purpose:
A Meat Cutting Saw is useful for cutting large chunks of meat into smaller, more manageable sizes. If you choose to process the deer meat with the bone left in, then this is the tool to use since it cuts through meat and bone.

 

Why not a knife?

Using a knife to cut meat will only get you so far. For starters, it’s difficult to cut through bone. Cutting through meat that’s been hung in colder temps. is even more difficult. And if you’re processing more than one deer, your hands will tire.

Using a Meat Cutting Saw makes efficient work of large cutting jobs not possible with a hand knife. Use it for cutting steaks, chops and cubes, and cutting through bone and frozen meat like butter.

 

Electric or Manual Meat Saw?

If you’re processing an average-sized carcass, a manual meat saw works just fine. If you’re processing a few deer with your buddies, an electric saw will be a HUGE time saver.

 

Quick Tips:

Don’t use a handy man’s hack or band saw, unless you want mangled meat and a lot of frustration. A hand saw specific for meat has larger gaps between its teeth. A hack saw has smaller spacing, which will clog quicker with sinew buildup. Plus, you’ll get uneven slices that’ll cook unevenly.

 

Tools to View

Weston Stainless Steel 25″ Butcher Saw
Guide Gear Meat Cutting Saw & Grinder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Trade Tool #2: Meat Grinder

Purpose:
Chops meat into a smaller, consistent form for making burgers, summer sausage, breakfast patties, brats, meatballs, and more. It functions best when the meat is trimmed of all its sinew and cubed, or sliced into 1-2″ cuts. Some grinders come with stuffing tubes, but if you’re stuffing a ton of sausage, you’re better off buying a separate sausage stuffer.

 

Manual or Electric Grinder?

This comes down to preference, price and how much you’re processing. If you’re processing just one deer or want an entry-level introductory into game meat processing, you might opt for a manual grinder. But an electric grinder will pay you dividends in time if you plan on processing game each season, or are processing a few deer at a time.

Here’s a quick example:

Product

Meat Grinding Output

Manual-operated Guide Gear Grinder

5 lbs. per minute

Electric Guide Gear Grinder

9.6 lbs. per minute

 

As you can see, the labor time is cut nearly in half!

 

What to Look For:

Grinder Size:
Refers to the diameter of the grinding outlet (which is also the grinding plate size). The larger the number, the larger the grinding plate, and the greater output per minute. For example, a #22 Electric Meat Grinder will grind less per minute than a #32 Grinder. The most common sizes for home processing falls between a #5 up to #32. For grinding game meat, we suggest using at least a #12 Grinder, but a larger size is recommended for producing larger batches of meat.

The following chart shows the industry standards for grinder sizes and outlet/plate diameters. Products may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so use as a reference only:

Grinder Size

#5

#8

#10 & #12

#20 & #22

#32

Outlet Diameter

21/8″

2-1/2″

2-3/4″

3-1/4″

3-7/8″

 

Grinder Plate Hole Sizes:

Different grinder plates have various hole diameters that result in fine, medium, or course ground meat. Our Guide Gear grinders include plates with smaller 3/16″ diameter holes for fine grinding and 3/8″ diameter holes for course grinding.

A quick visual guide:

Source: MeatProcessingProducts.com

 

Quick Tips:

  • Slice or cube meat into pieces that easily fit in to the Grinder opening
  • Work with ice-cold meat. Prepped pieces should be placed in freezer for 30-40 min. so it won’t bind up in the Grinder head

 

Tools to View

Manual Grinder: Guide Gear #32 Cast Iron Meat Grinder With Pulley
Electric Grinder: Guide Gear #22 Meat Grinder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want hands-free operation of your grinder? Get a Guide Gear Electric Grinder Foot Pedal. It’s compatible with all Guide Gear® electric grinders.

Trade Tool #3: Meat Mixer

Purpose:
Meat mixers don’t grind, chop, or alter the meat in any way. They simply help you blend in spices, ingredients, and fattier-content meat. The mixing paddles ensure an evenly blended end product than you’ll get with mixing by hand. The better the ingredients are blended, the better the taste.

 

Why Not Blend By Hand?

Sure, you could use a large stainless steel bowl for mixing ingredients, but you’ll have to knead the meat by hand. Since the meat has to be ice-cold to prevent bacteria buildup, working with frozen digits will get old quick.

As a general rule, you can hand mix ground meat for up to 10 minutes before it starts warming to room temp., which is in the danger zone for bacteria buildup. When 10 minutes are up, the meat has to chill in the freezer again for about another hour. You can see how much of a time sucker that process is.

A meat mixer is recommended for time efficiency, especially when mixing more than 15 lbs. of meat at a time. For even greater efficiency, attach an Electric Grinder to the mixer and let the Grinder’s motor do the work for you!

 

Quick Tips:

  • Adding fattier meat to lean wild game prevents it from drying out, adds flavor, and keeps patties from crumbling apart
  • Fat starts breaking down at room temp, resulting in dry, tasteless sausage
  • A mixer doesn’t mix very well with less than 10 lbs. of meat in it since the ground meat won’t cover the paddles

 

Tools to View

Guide Gear 17-lb. Capacity Stainless Steel Meat Mixer

 

Trade Tool #4: Sausage Stuffer

Purpose:
Ideal for stuffing seasoned ground meat into sausage casings. Yes, you could use the stuffing tubes that come with your meat grinder, but if you’re working on large batches, or want to explore endless sausage/casings recipes, then a stuffer is easier to control. Stuffers are ideal for making sausages, bratwursts, game sticks and more.

You have tons of options for choosing casing types, casing sizes, and ingredients galore, but that’s a topic for another day. Whatever your choice of ingredients, fill the cylinder with meat, attach a casing to the tube on the outside, turn the crank, and the meat mixture feeds into the casing. Using a stuffer is more efficient as a 2-person operation; one person will hold the casing to the output nozzle while the other turns the crank.

 

Quick Tips:

  • Tie off the end of the first casing, or use butcher twine
  • When creating continuous links, twist the ends of each casing in the opposite direction for each sausage, otherwise the links will unravel.
  • Poke tiny holes into the casing ends with a toothpick to avoid air buildup and casing blowout
  • Don’t poke holes in the casings if you’re preparing sausages for a smoker
  • Add small amounts of water to your ground meat when stuffing sausage to improve the meat output through the stuffing tube

 

Tools to View

Guide Gear 15 lb. Sausage Stuffer

Comes with 3 stuffing tubes to fill snack stick casings to summer sausage casings.

 

Trade Tool #5: Tenderizer & Jerky Slicer

Purpose:
Tenderizes tough meat cuts so they’re easier to chew in steak form, or easier to break apart when made into jerky. The stainless steel combs pierce the meat and work their magic by breaking down muscle fibers, which makes for more tenderized meats. Our Guide Gear 2-in-1 model not only tenderizes, but also slices each cut into the perfect thickness for making jerky. This unit slices jerky up to approx. 2/16th of an inch.

 

Quick Tips:

  • Trim all the fat from the meat. Fat doesn’t store well and can quickly become rancid
  • Keep the meat chilled to approx. 32°F so the meat doesn’t tear or mush up
  • To flash chill, place the pieces on a tray and set in the freezer for 20 min.
  • Cutting with or against the grain is a matter of preference
  • Slicing the meat with the grain results in tougher jerky that takes time to eat
  • Slicing against the grain results in a more chewy end product

 

Tools to View

Guide Gear 2-in-1 Tenderizer & Jerky Slicer

 

Meat Processing. Not Processed Meats.

As you start experimenting with food processing tools and techniques, you’ll soon get a feel for what works for you. And you’ll further appreciate the many benefits of processing your own fresh game meat vs. purchasing preservative-packed processed meats.

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One Response to “DIY Meat Processing Shop: Tools of the Trade”

  1. Wayne Boswell

    Do y’all still send out catalogs?

    Reply