How Many Times Should You Grind Meat for Sausage?
As a sausage maker, have you noticed that sausage recipes vary in how many times they tell you to grind the sausage meat? Have you wondered if you get different results based on how many times you grind the meat?
The number of times you should grind meat for sausage varies. Most sausage makers grind twice while some are happy with grinding once. It mainly depends on the type of texture (coarse and chunky or smooth and uniform) of sausage you prefer to bite into. Keep reading for more details.
Why Should You Grind Your Own Sausage Meat?
When meat is ground in a factory, in your local supermarket, or even in your butcher shop, it isn’t usually ground fresh daily.
More often than not, it’s ground a few days or even a week before hand because that’s how these businesses maximize on productivity to make more sales. Unfortunately, this also means that the meat sits in the meat counter for extended periods of time.
This has a few negative consequences:
- It greatly increase the likelihood of exposure of the meat to E. coli
- It reduces the overall quality of the meat
- It reduces freshness of the meat
- It causes the meat to lose flavor
The longer meat is exposed to air, the more likely it is to be contaminated by bacteria, like E. coli. If you’re grinding your own meat at home, this greatly reduces the risk of contamination with E. coli because you’re probably going to use it immediately after grinding or freeze it straight away.
Also, when the meat sits out, flavor is lost. However, if you’re grinding your own meat and immediately stuffing it or transferring it to your stuffer to make sausage, your sausage will have a much more fresh and clean taste.
Another benefit of grinding your own sausage meat is that you can grind whatever type of meat and use whatever combinations of different meat that you want. You also have complete control over the type of fat that goes into your sausage meat and the ratio of fat to meat.
You can also control the additives, like curing salt, that go into your meat and how much of them. If you prefer to avoid any risk associated with nitrates, you don’t have to use curing salt if you don’t want to.
That last aspect you have more control over is how much you spend. Grinding your own sausage can certainly be cheaper, depending on the type of meat you choose to use.
How Many Times Should You Grind Meat for Sausage?
There’s no straight answer for how many times you should grind meat for sausage. It’s really up to personal preference.
What it comes down to is if you like having coarse, chunky meat in your sausage or if you prefer a smooth texture.
How much you should grind sausage meat also depends on what type of sausage you’re making (for example, with bratwurst versus breakfast sausage, you’d do a single, more coarse grind for breakfast sausage).
Meat grinding also affects binding, and if meat is ground too much or too fine, it can cause smearing.
The majority of home sausage makers grind their meat twice, and there are a variety of options for this. You can:
- Grind with a coarse, ⅜” plate first, then a smaller ¼” plate or fine ⅛” plate second
- Grind with a coarse ⅜” plate both times
- Grind twice with a fine plate, which gives very smooth texture
If you’re unsure about grinding plates and sizes, click here to learn more.
Some sausage makers just grind once and prefer that result, or they’ll grind once and only grind twice if the recipe says so.
As you can see, it’s really up to you. Very generally, you can say: grind once for larger, chunkier pieces of meat, and grind twice for more uniform, smaller pieces of meat with smoother texture.
Sausage Meat Grinding Tips
- After the first grind, put the meat in the freezer so it gets semi-frozen. It will then move through the grinder much faster and keep the throat of the grinder cleaner when you grind the second time.
- You can freeze the detachable grinder neck too for about 15-30 minutes. Making it cold will help the meat push through the grinder faster.
- If you’re grinding a lot of meat, work in small batches and make sure your grinder has time to cool down between batches.
- Try cutting your meat into long strips (instead of cubes) and run it through the grinder. Some find this easier and faster for moving meat through the grinder.
- Some like to season before grinding because grinding can help with mixing in the seasoning. Others don’t see a difference between this compared to seasoning after grinding. Click here to learn more.
- If your grinder is also a stuffer, remember that you can stuff directly into the casings while grinding. Do this on the second grind if you plan to grind your meat twice. (You also have the option of not using casings at all. Click here to learn more).
How many times you grind meat for sausage can vary depending on many different factors. But I would say it comes down to mainly the type of texture you want for the type of sausage you’re making.
The beauty of making your own sausage at home is that the options are limitless, so go get experimenting!