Saturday, 29 January 2011

Sausage making - cheap useful tools and tips

For a change this is not a recipe. I just like to brag about the cheap and cheerful sausage making tools I have been using recently.

Last year I started making Chinese sausages lap cheong and other homemade fresh sausages. Unwilling to pay £££ for a stuffer machine I had been using a standard plastic funnel and a stick as a plunger to stuff the sausages. It was hard work!

I searched on the internet for an alternative cheap method and found there are stuffer funnels that will fit my manual cast iron meat grinder. It wasn't expensive (about £5 - 6 for a set) so I bought one with 3 different size funnel tubes. I got mine from Ebay but if anyone is interested here is a useful link.  Before buying a set make sure you know the size no. of the meat grinder, mine is a #10

Set of sausage stuffing funnel tubes
This old fashioned meat grinder I bought years ago has been gathering dust in the cupboard because I did not find it useful grinding meat.


To fit the sausage funnel tube just remove the grinder blade and replace front disc with the plastic stuffer tube. The plastic fits perfectly to the front but the spiral rod inside was quite loose because I have taken out the blade, I was unsure if it would work.
Sausage funnel fitted to meat grinder
Slip sausage casing onto stuffer tube
Making some lap cheong
The minute I started cranking the meat grinder handle, I was so please the meat came out smoothly. The stuffing job was so much easier and took fraction of the time than using a funnel and a stick. Another thing I found was this method trapped a lot less gas than the simple funnel and stick. The only slight drawback was I needed 3 hands :) : one for cranking the handle, one for holding the sausage casing to the tube to ensure even flow of meat into the casing and one to spoon meat into the feeder and push it down with a spoon. Wish I have a helper.

I do recommend this funnel stuffer with meat grinder method if like me you don't want to spend too much and not making industrial amount of sausages frequently. The meat grinder is cheap, you can get one under £20 or second hand from Ebay or maybe one of your older relative have one tucked away in the their cupboard they are willing to give away. Now I've found a good use for my manual meat grinder it has finally come out of the cupboard and get used frequently.

Aren't these short fat lap cheong cute? There are stuffed with hog skin about 35mm.
Fat short lap cheong
And here is a mobile and dirt cheap way to hang the sausages using trousers hanger!
hang in pairs ready for drying
Aside from tools, here are a few tips making sausages from my own experience if you are interested.
  • If using cellulose (artificial) skin, uncoil the skin and cut into workable length about 30 - 40 cm. Stretch it and slip the dried casing directly onto the sausage stuffing tube. If the skin is wet/damp it can be a bit difficult to work. Once the skin is fitted onto the plastic tube, dampen it with water this will prevent skin breakage. 
  • Avoid trapping air into the sausages much as you can.  
  • If making lap cheong (both cellulose or natural skin) prick the sausage with a fine needle all over before they are ready for hanging and lightly squeeze each sausage to release any trapped air. 
  • If making fresh sausages do not prick too many holes or the sausage may split or burst during cooking. 
  • To make standard size lap cheong (if using natural skin) use thin sausage skin like sheep casing size 21 -  26mm or cellulose casings. Hog casing is far too thick unless you want to make fat short ones like the picture above. 
  • When tying sausages with a cotton string better use a double loops knot (just like a normal knot but looping the string twice before pulling to tie the knot). 
  • When soaking salted natural skin, do not exceed too much what you will need. If you do have too much left over, make sure they are clean and remove any excess water then mix with plenty of salt and put back in the fridge. This will keep for sometime but try using it again soon as poss. Another handy tip is to get some cellulose skin as backup, if you do run out of skin this way you can continue working and finish the job quickly. 
  • Cellulose skin keeps for many years in the cupboard, dried and handy to use straight away. When making fresh sausages with cellulose skin, make sure you keep the sausages in the fridge for few hours or overnight before cooking, this will reduce skin breakage during cooking. 
  • Do not freeze natural casings this will cause the skin to weaken and break. 
  • If using a manual cast iron meat grinder, after cleaning put all the parts in a warm oven to dry. This will prevent rust. 

UK sausage casings suppliers:
Ebay



6 comments:

  1. Lots of great trips, thanks Sunflower!

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  2. Great information.
    I would love to try it ♥

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  3. thanks for sharing all these valuable tips.

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  4. wow, it looks so easy your home-made sausages and lap cheong.
    Could you please point me to a more detailed recipe for both the lap cheong and sausages? (maybe you have them up already somewhere..) During the drying stage for the lap cheong, do they get mouldy?
    I'm writing you from Italy, hopefully it'll be easy to track down all the necessary tools...
    thanks a heap!

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  5. Lap cheong recipe and result on these two posts

    http://sunflower-recipes.blogspot.com/2010/03/lap-cheong-chinese-dried-sausage.html

    http://sunflower-recipes.blogspot.com/2010/04/diy-lap-cheong-tasting.html

    I will post some fresh sausage recipes later.

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  6. thks a whole lot for the tips. I'll write u if I do decide to take the plunge! Man, I miss lap cheong!

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