It's very easy to stuff your seasoned ground meat into sausage casings with a sausage stuffer. You can use your meat grinder with stuffing tubes to stuff your sausages, but a sausage stuffer is easier to control, especially if you are doing large batches of sausage.
Once you have seasoned your ground meat, you are ready to stuff the into the sausage casings. There are three basic types of sausage stuffers:
- Horn Sausage Stuffers - Horn stuffers are only available in manual models. This type of sausage filler is usually made of cast iron plated with tin or chrome, however, there are now several stainless steel models available. Horn fillers are generally for people just starting out making their own sausage or for those who will only be making smaller batches. Capacities range from 3 to 5 lbs of sausage.
- Horizontal Sausage Stuffers - Horizontal stuffers are available in manual and electric motorized models. Horizontal models have a large piston-like cylinder to hold the seasoned ground meat that is mounted horizontally. The stuffer extrudes the meat from the stuffing tube at the end of the cylinder when you turn the crank at the other end of the cylinder or turn on the electric motor. One slight disadvantage of the manual version of this type of stuffer is that the unit must be put near the edge of a table or counter so that the hand crank hangs over the side to give it enough clearance to turn. The sausage capacity of horizontal units range from 5 to 20 lbs.
- Vertical Sausage Stuffers - Vertical stuffers are the most popular and there are models for both beginners and professionals. You can find these vertical sausage filling machines in both manual and electric models. (Note: the electric vertical models are typically the larger capacity, commercial grade units). Similar to the horizontal models, vertical sausage stuffers have a large piston-like cylinder to hold the seasoned ground meat, but the stuffing cylinder is mounted vertically. The stuffer extrudes the meat from the stuffing tube at the bottom of the cylinder when you turn the hand crank or turn on the electric motor. The vertical models are made with capacities that range from 5 to 15 lbs.
Regardless of which type of stuffer you use, the basic technique is the same. Before starting, wipe the stuffer tube with a paper towel soaked with a little vegetable oil. This makes taking the sausage casings on and off easier.
You'll need to tie or close off the end of the casing before you start stuffing, otherwise the sausage will just come out the end of the casing. You can close of the end with butcher twine, a hog ring, or you can just tie a knot in the casing itself, but this will waste a length of the casing. Using a sausage pricker, poke some air escape holes in the end of the casing so that any the air trapped inside can escape.
Stuffing is much easier when you have two people to do the job. One person controls the hand crank or electric switch on the sausage stuffer, which determines the flow and speed of the sausage passing through the machine. The second person manipulates the casing by moving the sausage along and watching out for air pockets that might form, pricking the casing with a pricker to release the air when necessary.
When using an electric sausage stuffer, it might be possible for one person to do the job if you have a foot switch to turn on and off the sausage stuffer. With a foot switch, the person doing the job can have both his or her hands free to manipulate the sausage casing as it fills up with ground meat.
As the meat comes out of the machine, the sausage starts getting longer. When it reaches a desired link length, simply pinch the casing at that opening and twirl the sausage a few times to make a link. Continue stuffing until another you reach the next link length and repeat the process. Except this time, turn this link in the opposite direction as the first time. If you alternate the direction of your turns, it will keep the links from unraveling. If you always twist in the same direction, you’ll just end up un-doing the first sausage link.
An alternative method is to stuff the whole casing and close it off at the ends to form a long coil. You can keep your sausage in this form, or you can form links in the could at this point. Just remember, you always need to twist the next link the opposite direction.
Now your sausage is ready for cooking, drying, or smoking, depending on which type of sausage and sausage recipe you are following.
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