ordered grinder and vacuum sealer, starting from scratch

davsco

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Jan 30, 2018
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just ordered a grinder and vacuum sealer from cabelas. have always gutted my whitetails and taken them to a processor. figured i should start doing this myself. planning on gutless method and bone out. what else do i really need? tips and tricks for first timers, what did you screw up your first time? will just be a low-volume operation, 1-4 whitetails a year, hopefully an elk next year (and following years...).

i plan on steaks from the backstraps and tenderloins, then just a few choice steaks (need to read/youtube up on that) and the rest in burger (hamburgers and casseroles) and maybe a little sausage and jerky. not really into roasts.

thanks!!
 

realunlucky

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Jan 20, 2013
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I break everything into muscle groups and remove facia and silver skin is more time consuming but I like the finished product better. I like to flatten out all the ground meat so it stacks in freezer nice. Word of caution you have to be careful when freezing for first time stacked up meat is hard to freeze so rotate it or ensure air can get to everything so it freezes solid

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muddydogs

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I package all my loose meat in 1 pound meat bags which can be done with a grinder but it's easier with a stuffer which you will need for sausages.

Might also want to check out meat lugs so you have something to mix meat in. A scale is a need to weight out meat and mixes.

Vacuum bags can get kind of expensive so I wrap some meat that's going to get eaten within a year in plastic wrap and butcher paper, done right stuff will be fine for over a year in the freezer. Depending on the size of the animal you could be looking at 30 plus bags to seal which cost a few bucks and take a while.

A note on the Cabelas sealer. Take it out of the box and make sure it works, I purchased one a few months ago and it was non working out of the box.
 

Roy68

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Congrats on bringing the process home. If you have never done it from start to finish you are going to likey learn that 1-4 whitetails will be more work than you think. A couple of years ago I started a thread on my foray into home processing over a decade ago and shared my big take aways. I started with just a grinder (still haven’t seen the need for a vacuum sealer but many do). Others shared their experiences as well. Hopefully it’s helpful for you.

I started with a #22 Grinder 10 years ago (photo heavy)
 

jmez

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Get a dedicated stuffer and get the biggest one you can afford. You may think stuffing with a grinder isn't bad if you don't know any better. The first time you use a stuffer........

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Bulldawg

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Keep as man roasts as you can and experiment with them, because if you prefer burger to roast I believe it’s because you haven’t figured out how to cook them yet. I don’t hardly do roast like a pot roast in a slow cooker all day, but roast them in the oven or sear and finish in the oven. But braising for a long time with good seasoning can make for some killer meals


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Squirrels

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Get a dedicated stuffer and get the biggest one you can afford. You may think stuffing with a grinder isn't bad if you don't know any better. The first time you use a stuffer........

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I'm waiting for a sale at LEM to pick up a stuffer. I've used my grinder for stuffing 1 lb ground bags...sucks. I've used my grinder to stuff summer sausage casings....sucks. I've used my grinder to stuff bratwurst size sausage....sucks. Yeah grinders are good at grinding and suck for stuffing. They will work but it is a pain cause what you put in the throat comes out the tube, not enough control.
 

Desk Jockey

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I just did a little upgrade to my home butcher kit. Here are some thoughts:

- +1 on the plastic wrap and butcher paper idea above. Better and cheaper than vacuum bags.
- Get volume 1 of Steve Rinella guide book. There is a nice section on deer butchery. He has some good YouTube videos too. Also some good recipes to do with - roast meat that will expand your thinking and enjoymenT of shoulders and Shanks.
- I just upgraded to a set of Cabela’s Wüsthof knives for $125. They are great but I end up doing a lot of work with a boning knife. I skin with a havalon so don’t really need a skinner knife.
- If I were start from scratch I would get a victoronix 8-10 inch scimitar knife for breaking and 2-3 $15 4-6 inch boning of fillet knives. That covers you for longer cuts to slice steaks and break down meat with the short blades for the trimming. Having 2-3 boning knives let’s you grab a sharp one when needed.
- Weston saw for $25 bucks is a good deal but a hack saw or recip saw with a clean blade is fine too
- I also added a 18x30 synthetic cutting board. Plenty big enough to hold a whitetail quarter.
- a gambrel with a pulley is worth it too
 
OP
davsco

davsco

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thanks all for the suggestions, please keep them coming!
 

muddydogs

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May 3, 2017
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Utah
Congrats on bringing the process home. If you have never done it from start to finish you are going to likey learn that 1-4 whitetails will be more work than you think. A couple of years ago I started a thread on my foray into home processing over a decade ago and shared my big take aways. I started with just a grinder (still haven’t seen the need for a vacuum sealer but many do). Others shared their experiences as well. Hopefully it’s helpful for you.

I started with a #22 Grinder 10 years ago (photo heavy)
Great thread Roy68, lots of great info.

Here is another item for the hand mixers out there,
Amazon.com : RAPICCA Griller BBQ Waterproof Oil/Heat Resistant Insulated Cooking Gloves for Barbecue/Grill/Smoker/Fry Turkey/Pot Holder/Oven mitt/Baking, Neoprene Coating with Textured Palms Long Sleeve (17-Inch) : Garden & Outdoor
These insulated gloves keep your fingers warm enough when mixing cold meat so you can stand the cold long enough to get a good mix. I've mixed 60 pound batches where I have been mixing for over 5 minutes making sure everything is mixed well. Currently I have a pair of shorter gloves but there just short enough where meat slim gets close to the top while mixing then if I'm not careful when washing them I end up getting water inside which wets the liner and calls for a set on the boot dryer so I plan on getting this pair of longer gloves. These gloves also work well for filling the stuffer and slide off easy into the meat lug leaving your hands clean to run the stuffer.

Once I got into meat processing I realize that clean up can take as long as anything else so I do everything I can to minimize the mess and not slimming up the entire stuffer with dirty hands is one place that pays in the end.
 

5MilesBack

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Colorado Springs
I grind most of my elk and grind it directly into 1 gal freezer bags. They flatten out nicely and it's easy to force most all the air out before zipping them closed. I still have several packages in the freezers from the past two years and they're still in great shape. And like Realunlucky said......they stack real nice so you can maximize the use of your space.

I tried the vacuum sealer once, but it wasn't a commercial model so it was too slow to keep up with me as it "needed to cool" too much. The grind directly into ziplocks has worked great the past several years.
 

coop22250

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Palmer AK
Plus one on the stuffer. I used one this year, and it’s amazing. Habanero cheese summer sausage, cheddar summer sausage, putting burger in the small 1 and 2 lbs sacks, was so much faster than using the grinder. I’d equate it to using an RCBS automatic powder dispenser for the first time vs hand trickling.


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Squirrels

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Plus one on the stuffer. I used one this year, and it’s amazing. Habanero cheese summer sausage, cheddar summer sausage, putting burger in the small 1 and 2 lbs sacks, was so much faster than using the grinder. I’d equate it to using an RCBS automatic powder dispenser for the first time vs hand trickling.


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what stuffer did you get and why did you chose it
 

Bulldawg

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I used to grind into gallon bags, but when you want to eat some burger you have to thaw out an entire gallon which is like 5 pounds. Use the 1 pound poly ground meat bags and be done with it. Using a stuffer is easier but it can be done with the grinder no problem with two people is easier. The foot pedal for the grinder makes it really convenient.
I cringe when folks say they grind the whole animal or everything but the straps. There is so much you can do with roasts and steaks, I roast everything that is a pound or so and grind what’s left and then I still run out before I run out of burger. Burgers boring haha.


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coop22250

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what stuffer did you get and why did you chose it
Just got the cabelas that holds 10lb, reason was because it was half off at a garage sale. I don’t know which are the best or anything, but super impressed with time savings


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NJDiverDan

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Rigby, Idaho
Not sure if said above, but get the foot pedal for your grinder so you can turn on and off without the switch. This makes filling the meat bags much easier as well as if you use the grinder to stuff sausage.

Keep the meat you are going to grind as cold as possible. Even semi frozen, it will go through the grinder much easier.

Throughout the year keep all the ends or stale bread that you do not use in a bag in the freezer. I use it to push the last bit of meat through the grinder. In my #32 there is typically over a pound in the meat bag stuffing tube that we get out this way. Also, dramatically decreases the cleaning time for the grinder.

The other piece that we used ALOT is my slicer. We take a lot of the front shoulder "roasts" and slice them into thin (think deli roast beef) slices to make cheese steak sandwiches. Oh and if running a slicer, best to semi freeze the roast first so it is easier to slice.
 

5MilesBack

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I used to grind into gallon bags, but when you want to eat some burger you have to thaw out an entire gallon which is like 5 pounds.
Mine average right at 3lbs, but I do some up thinner and some in the 5lb+ range as well. Haven't had an issue yet, but with a family of five we eat a lot, so more is always better.

I use burger in a lot of stuff. My girls love my elk meatloaf, meatballs, spaghetti sauce, chili, stuffed peppers, hamburgers, tacos, burritos.......we hardly ever roast up a piece of elk meat. We eat the tenderloins when they're fresh and backstraps as steaks or roasts, but I grind everything else unless it's a small bull or a cow. Even the backstraps were tough on my bull two years ago.
 

MIKEYB

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Bearded butchers on you tube has some good videos for beginners.
 

jmez

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I have a LEM 15lb big bite stuffer. With two guys you can stuff 25lbs of summer sausage or burger in 5 minutes. Takes about 10 by yourself. Snack sticks are fast as well.

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