Make The Best Venison Sausage Ever

Venison has myriad uses including breakfast sausage or smoked links like this one.

I remember my first batch of venison summer sausage. This was back in the “olden days” of the early 1980s, when I was fresh out of college and poorer than when I was in it. But true to form for a young hunter with boundless energy, I had a good autumn of deer hunting between bow and slug gun seasons, and managed to turn a collection of antlerless tags into a trio of good white-tailed does on the ground — and a nice batch of trim meat even after grinding up enough burger for a year for myself and my new wife, and after making chops, steaks and roasts.

So what to do with all of that extra trim meat? There was no money in the family budget for professional services, let alone sausage-making machines or tools, so I did it all by hand:

— I used my mother’s hand- cranked meat grinder, brought over from Bohemia.
— I mixed ground pork and ground venison by hand.
— I worked spices and curing agents into the mixture with my fingers.
— I stuffed sausage skins and tamped meat down, with a wooden spoon.
— I smoked the creations in an old electric unit; thank goodness the weather was mild so the meat “cooked” enough to be safe.

You know what? That batch of summer sausage turned out great! But it was a whole lot of work. There had to be a better way. And there was, once the family budget afforded a little more breathing room. That better way was building up a set of the right tools for the sausage- making job — to save time and make an even better end product.

The following itemized list will help you prioritize and gather the tools and machines you need to make great venison sausage products (summer sausage, brats, polish or kielbasa, sticks and more) efficiently.

Grinding venison for sausage (or burgers) is easy with a dependable, powerful grinder.

After trimming venison into chunks, the first step in the actual sausage-making process is grind- ing the trimmed meat. There are two options here.

Power Grinder: Electric grinders make short work of grinding jobs. Good examples are grinders in Weston’s Butcher Series and Pro Series. Secure a heavy-duty grinder with at least a 3/4-horsepower motor to get the job done right, and a good-sized hopper to hold plenty of meat. A 1- to 11⁄2-horsepower model is ideal.

Hand Grinder: There’s nothing wrong with hand grinding your meat for sausage. It just takes longer and requires more muscle power — not issues if you have the time and energy, or a team of strong, young crankers! Divide jobs and conquer. One person should feed meat into the hopper steadily while the other person works the crank. Weston offers heavy-duty manual meat grinders in its lineup.

One of the keys to making great sausage is getting a good mix of the ground meats (venison and ground pork, traditionally), seasonings and curing agents. You can do this by hand, but that process can break down the meat more than is desirable. It’s better to use a mixer to get even dispersal of all ingredients in a minimum amount of time. Mixers move you toward the pro level of sausage making, and they save time and work. In addition, a mixer is well worth the investment for the quality it provides to the end product. Who wants an “all venison” brat followed by an “all pork” brat, for instance? Or one with spices and one without?

WATCH: Stacy Lyn Harris of Shows How She Makes Venison Sausage

While you won’t be buying a refrigerator or freezer specifically for sausage making, you should make a few shelves available in the units you already own. Why? Because an essential part of the sausage-making process is keeping the meat cool (between 34F and 38F or…

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