So you killed it, what are you going to do with it?
We do carry our whitetail deer to meat processors, when they are open and we can afford it. Most have reasonable rates and offer a variety of options on what you can get it made into. We have opted for smoked links, pan sausage, ground burger, summer sausage, cubed steaks, stew meat, roasts, and even jalapeño and cheese hotdogs.
There are times we just prefer to process it ourselves. We choose to skin and debone it. Then we keep it iced for a few days while we decide what products we want from it.
We also gather all the necessary equipment to process the meat. We have purchased some items, been given items, and even borrow select items that we are unsure if we want to buy.
All you really need is a sharp knife and you can cut it up yourself. Minimalism is not appreciated as much as it should. Don’t let not having all the gadgets stop you from trying. We get better each time and enjoy working together to put meat in our freezer. We also enjoy sharing with friends and family. You will be surprised what your friends or family know about processing meat and can share tips and tricks with you.
A recently borrowed item was this meat cuber. Definitely a worthy item for us to purchase now.
Here are a few key items we have for meat processing:
Large metal bowls
Sharp knives, including electric ones, and cutting boards
Meat grinder (2 hand and 3 electric) with various sized sausage tubes
Dehydrator (1 old school and 1 with varied temperatures)
Freezer wrap and food vacuum sealer
Various seasonings and casings
Bleach, rags, paper towels, and a first aid kit (trust me on that one)
Processing meat can be done by one individual, but teamwork makes it a little more fun and less like work. We divide and conquer the tasks. Based on what we are making and how many of us are helping decides who does what.
Cleaning and bleaching all surfaces and tools, including the sink.
Rinsing the meat off.
Removing gristle, fat, or such off the meat.
Cutting the meat based on purpose.
Cubing the meat.
Grinding the meat. We usually double grind it, especially when making beef jerky or bologna.
Seasoning based on intent and using a mixing technique with your hands or a machine.
Filling jerky shooter tubes or casings.
Then there is the wrapping or vacuum sealing the meat to prevent freezer burn. All your work can be wasted if you skimp on this task. Take your time and do all you can to protect your meat for months until you eat it.
Smoking the meat, dehydrating jerky, cooking batches of bologna, pre-baking meatballs or meatloaves are sometimes tasks and an take hours! Make sure you have a scheduled plan so you are not up until 2 a.m. checking the temperature of the processed product (i.e. bologna).
Cleaning and bleaching everything when you’re done is another step that needs to be done and done well. We use wire brushes to ensure we have the gadgets and hard to reach surfaces all cleaned prior to storing them again. All counters and sinks get bleached again as well.
We truly enjoy seeing our final products all packaged and in the freezer. It is rewarding as we save money for months on our grocery bill as we have plenty of meat options.
We are always wanting to learn new processes, so please feel free comments about how you have yours processed. What do you do with different cuts of meat?