Meat Processing Cheat Sheet

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Are you interested in making sausage, bologna, ham, jerky, snack sticks, and bacon at home? There is a lot to learn, but a little guidance goes a long way in preparing these delicious meats and snacks with confidence. Here is a handy list of guidelines you will want to refer to often.

Note: Temperatures given are in F.


General Guidelines

  • Always use cure for jerky, snack sticks, summer sausage, ring bologna, bologna, ham, salami, bacon, etc!
    • Sodium nitrite (sometimes referred to as Insta Cure #1, Prague Powder, or pink curing salt) is the one you will use most frequently. The correct ratio for sodium nitrite is 1 ounce per 25 pounds of meat or 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of meat. Buy sodium nitrite here.
    • Sodium nitrate (sometimes referred to as Insta Cure #2) is only to be used in salamis, pepperonis, and other specialty items. 
  • If adding high temp cheese to fresh sausage, snack sticks, summer sausage, ring bologna, or bologna, add 1 pound of cheese per 10 pounds of meat. For example, 8.5 pounds of venison + 1.5 pounds of pork fat + 1 pound of high temp cheese + 2 teaspoons of sodium nitrite + the seasoning of your choice would make a terrific summer sausage!
  • When making snack sticks, summer sausage, ring bologna, or bologna, add 1 pint of cold water (per 10 pounds of meat) to your meat after it is ground to make stuffing easier and to make a smoother final texture.
  • After stuffing your snack sticks, summer sausage, ring bologna, or bologna, refrigerate them in a covered meat lug for 3 hours to let the cure work throughout the meat. This also gives the seasonings more time to absorb into the fibers of the meat.
  • After removing snack sticks, summer sausage, ring bologna, or bologna from the smoker, immerse them in an ice water bath for 5–10 minutes. This stops the cooking process.
  • When marinating muscle jerky, let it marinade for 24–30 hours.
  • When making formed jerky, shoot the strips onto a wire rack, and let the strips sit for 2 hours (covered) in the refrigerator to let the cure and seasoning work their way throughout the meat. Letting the meat marinate with the cure and seasoning before making the strips may change the texture of the meat, making it very difficult to load into your jerky gun.
  • If your smoker doesn’t run as low as 150 degrees, try cold smoking the product first before smoking it at 200–225 degrees. Cold smoke bolognas for 2 hours, summer sausage for 1 hour, muscle jerky for 30–45 minutes, and snack sticks and formed jerky for 20-30 minutes. Cooking times will be slightly shorter than the times listed for cooking in an oven. This cold smoking should not be done on warm days!

Fresh Sausage

  • Using Venison? Add 20-30% fatty pork or pork fat.
  • Using Pork? Pork butts are perfect! Add up to 10% pork fat for really juicy sausages!

Seasoning Blends

Casings

If you're not making links, form it into patties for breakfast sausage or fry it loose for casseroles and other dishes.

Cooking Methods

  • Cook the fresh sausages at 350 degrees with medium smoke until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160.
  • If using your stove, brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until the internal temperature reaches 160.

Snack Sticks 

  • Using venison? Add 5-10% fatty pork, pork fat, or lean ground beef (70-80% lean).
  • Using beef? Use 80-90% lean ground beef.

Seasoning Blends 
These come with a cure packet.

Casings

Cooking Methods

  • Smoke them at 150 degrees with heavy smoke for 1 hour, and then increase the temperature to 200 degrees until the internal temperature of the sticks hits 160 degrees (approximately 30–40 minutes longer).
  • If cooking them in your oven, add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke per 10 pounds of meat, and then cook them at 200 degrees until the internal temperature of the sticks hits 160 degrees (approximately 1 hour).

Summer Sausage or Ring Bologna

  • Using venison? Add 10-20% fatty pork, pork fat, or lean ground beef (70-80% lean).
  • Using beef? Use 80-90% lean ground beef.

Seasoning Blends 
These come with a cure packet.

Casings

  • 2" Cloth Casings (available in our store)

Cooking Methods

  • Smoke them at 150 degrees with heavy smoke for 4 hours, and then increase the temperature to 200 degrees until the internal temperature of the meat hits 160 degrees (approximately 2 more hours).
  • If cooking them in your oven, add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke per 10 pounds of meat, and then cook them at 200 degrees until the internal temperature of the meat hits 160 degrees (approximately 2-1/2 hours).

Bologna

  • Using venison? Add 10-20% fatty pork, pork fat, or lean ground beef (70-80% lean).
  • Using beef? Use 80-90% lean ground beef.

Seasoning

Casings

Cooking Methods

  • Smoke the bologna at 150 degrees with heavy smoke for 6 hours, and then increase the temperature to 200 degrees until the internal temperature of the meat hits 160 degrees (approximately 6 more hours).
  • If cooking it in your oven, add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke per 10 pounds of meat, and then cook it at 200 degrees until the internal temp of the meat hits 160 degrees (approximately 6 hours).

Muscle Jerky 

  • Using Venison? The hindquarters or the backstraps make great muscle jerky!
  • Using Beef? Brisket flat, top round, or eye round are great choices.

Seasonings (available in our store)

Preparation Methods

  • Smoke the jerky at 150 degrees with medium smoke until it is rigid, but tender enough that it doesn't snap when bent (approximately 6–7 hours).
  • If using your oven, add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke per 10 pounds of meat, and then set the oven as low as possible (usually around 175 degrees). Prop the door open about 2” to let some of the heat escape. Cook the jerky until it is rigid, but tender enough that it doesn't snap when bent (approximately 4–5 hours).
  • If using a dehydrator, add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke per 10 pounds of meat, and then set the dehydrator at 150 degrees. Dry the meat until it is rigid, but tender enough that it doesn't snap when bent (approximately 5–6 hours).

Formed Jerky 

  • Using Venison? Any ground venison works fine.
  • Using Beef? Use the leanest ground beef you can possibly find!

See "Muscle Jerky" for recommended seasonings and preparation methods.

We carry a full line of meat processing equipment and supplies, including grinders, stuffers, seasoning blends, and casings. Our staff is also happy to help you with your meat processing questions! Visit us during store hours or browse some of our products in our online catalog here:

Location:
Meadow Creek Barbecue Supply
140 W Main St
New Holland, PA 17557

Phone: (717) 355-0779

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Friday: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Sunday: Closed

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