Freeze Meat Before Processing? - Cured Sausage: 203
Freeze Meat Before Processing?
Avoiding The Danger Zone
When you are making cured sausage, one of the best things you can do to make it easy on you and keep everything safe is to keep your meat very cold through the whole process. Whether it is grinding, mixing, or stuffing, getting your meat around 30° is going to make a difference in how quickly you are done and how good of a finished product you have. Starting with very cold meat also means that you have longer before you are in the danger zone with the meat; between 41° and 140° are optimal growing temps for lots of bacteria, and some can duplicate every 20 minutes, so within an hour you might very well have 8 times the bacteria in your meat you started with, so staying out of that danger zone as long as possible is very important to producing a quality product.
Benefits of Freezing
Meat does not freeze at 32° like we tend to think it does; depending on the pH of the meat, it can start freezing around 27°-29°. Freezing your meat is going to allow it all to move down the throat of the grinder towards the plates and knives more quickly; as meat warms up, the fat starts to become sticky, making it more difficult for it to move down the throat, and once it gets to the throat it will be more difficult to cut. When the meat is very cold, that fat is hard and can’t stick to anything, so it moves faster, and it is easier for the plate and knife to cut it and push it through the plate. Another advantage during this portion is that the fat will not smear as it is ground; smeared fat can cause a host of problems when processing, it can make protein extraction more difficult, and affect the texture of the finished product.
At 39°, it took us 43 seconds to grind 4.2 lb of meat (roughly 1 lb per 10 seconds); when we reduced that temperature down to 31°, we were able to grind 4.5 lb of meat in 21 seconds (roughly 1 lb per 5 seconds). When doing small batches saving that amount of time doesn’t really matter, but when processing large batches, it absolutely does. And the real advantage is on the second grind. Second grinds will always take longer because you aren’t pushing chunks of meat down the throat, you are pushing the ground product, so it has much more opportunity to stick the sides and move around and over the auger. When it is still very cold, it will be pushed down that throat faster.
Getting your meat icy cold when stuffing might be even more important from a speed standpoint, especially when stuffing your meat into a snack stick-sized casing or using meat blocks with high-fat content, as the warmer fat gets, the stickier it will be.
KLee The ratio is up to you on the beef to pork as that is mostly a personal taste issue. When I make snack sticks I use 100% pork and I go with pork butt. Now, I would use at least 50% pork because the pork fat is better than beef fat for making sausage as it is creamier than beef fat.
Yes, if you are adding fat to reach 70/30 or 75/25 then you should add pork fat as it’s better quality than other fats.