I am talking about cleaning and sanitation. (Yawn). Before you fall asleep or move on, here is why I am kind of OCD about cleaning. I spent a few years working Summers in the family sausage business. Cleaning and sanitation is HUGE, and literally can mean the difference between staying open or being shut down at an inspected commercial processing plant.
For most home processors, keeping our equipment and work space clean is about improving flavor, quality, and shelf life of the products you make. It also is about food safety, and making products that don’t have dangerous food-borne pathogens that could make you or others sick. Just because you cooked a product up to 160 degrees, does not mean it can’t make someone sick. Last of all, clean and well maintained equipment just works better.
When you think about cleaning work surfaces, start to think about anything that could directly or indirectly make contact with the meat. That includes your hands, by the way.
Anyone who has made sausage has probably observed how dried emulsified meat is like glue and is a real pain to get off of equipment. If you are working alone, do yourself a favor and as soon as you are finished with a piece of equipment, or a processing tub, rinse off the big chunks with the hottest water you have. Hot water is one of the best things I have found that can melt the fat and loosen the protein from surfaces. If the water is too hot for your hands, wear disposable rubber gloves.
Once you have the chunks off, you can go back later when you are all finished and scrub the rest off with a soap, hot water, and minimal effort to finish the clean up. Once the heavy gunk has dried on, it is much more difficult to remove.
Another thing that simplifies clean up is to use a plastic scraper to remove all the excess meat off of equipment before wash down. This does a couple of things: It reduces the amount of cleaners required and keeps the meat out of your sink or wash basin. In general, meat and fat in your drains is going to lead to problems sooner or later
If you are working with helpers, it can greatly simplify cleaning if someone can start washing down a piece of equipment as soon as you are done using it for the day. This allows the clean up to start before any meat residue begins to dry and reduces the time and effort involved. Depending on your processing area, you probably can use the space created by cleaning up and putting away dirty equipment sooner rather than later.
My favorite cleaner is a strong alkaline cleaner called Greased Lightening and it cuts fat and even smoke house/grill residue better than most other normal house-hold cleaners.
After you get everything cleaned up and dried, figure out a storage system that keeps it clean till the next time you use it. Equipment stored out in the open on the shelf in the garage or basement is going to accumulate dirt and grunge. Store your clean equipment in a tote with a lid or cover it with plastic film till you are ready to use it again.
Kind of just scratching the surface here. There have been whole books written on the topic of cleaning and sanitation. Would be interested to hear some of your own cleaning tricks.
Photo of my small removable equipment parts after wash down. The big stationary items have to be washed down on the carts and tables they operate on.