Tools of the Trade
Updated: Jan 21, 2019
One of the first things I needed to decide on for making my Salumi was what equipment should I use? Here is the path I took to my current set of tools.
Homemade bacon was my first go at creating cured meats. It is the simplest in terms of equipment. The main thing you need is a sharp knife and a smoker. The knife is used to trim and cut the pork belly. I currently get pork belly from Costco or the local Asian Food market. The belly from the Asian market still has the ribs and skin attached so I use the knife to remove the ribs and cut off the skin.
There are many different smokers. I currently use a classic Weber bullet smoker. It works great and have had no reason the change or upgrade. It has two levels for sausage and a water pan to keep the heat moist. Notice on the lid that I did add a thermometer in the vent so that I have an idea of the temperature. If its too low, I can open up the access panel to add more charcoal or to let additional air stoke the fire.
With bacon mastered, I decided to try fresh sausage. When I first started out, I didn't know if making fresh sausage would continue to interest me, so my first grinder was not heavy duty. We have a Kitchen Aid mixer and I bought the grinder attachment for it. It served its purpose, but as I continued to make sausage, I saw that grinding put a large strain on the mixers motor. I would have burned out the mixer had I continued to use it for grinding. For that reason if you are serious about grinding, get a dedicated grinder.
After much research on makes, models, reviews, etc, I purchased a #8 grinder from LEM products. The difference between the two is unbelievable. Grinding that would take 40 minutes with the mixer is done in 3 minutes with the grinder. I highly recommend the LEM product. We have also purchased the juicer attachment for the grinder which we use in summer to make tomato sauce and salsa from our garden.
The grinder is easy to clean a here is a picture of it in action.
The next piece of basic equipment you will need is a digital scale. The one I have works, but has a drawback. Here is a picture of the scale.
The fact that its flat means that when you place a large tub of meat on it to weigh, the readout is covered. It also does not persist the last weight, so I am always fussing to be able to see the weight of larger items. There are scales that have a raised weighing platform and I would get one of those with the knowledge I have gained. Do yourself a favor and use that knowledge.
The last item I will talk about in this post is sausage casings. I did my search and review currently am extremely happy with the "Natural Hog Casings for Sausage" produced by Oversea Casings. They are packed in salt and can be stored in a zip-lock bag in the fridge when not in use. The diameter of the casing is like that of Italian sausage you get in the market. When dried it shrinks to a thin pepperoni diameter. If you look at the review, ignore the ones that complain about smell. Those folks might have large noses or something. If I stick my nose to the bag, I smell them, but once zip-locked... no smell. Here is a picture of the bag.
That's it for now. In a future post, I will show you the details for my drying refrigerator. I adapted an old fridge to help cure dried sausages.
Here are some links to the products I have used and describe above.