Indoor Adventures Processing My Own Venison
Outdoor adventures have been put on freeze due to the extreme cold temperatures that have settled into the region. Weather patterns like this make a person like me go a bit stir crazy. When you go from daily outdoor walks in the woods to none, it becomes challenging.
Before getting into this week’s column, I would like to take a moment and thank everyone that reached out to share their condolences over the loss of Boone. Many kind words and memories shared over the last week have helped with the healing process. My boys and I are overwhelmed with the responses that we received.
Often when the deep of winter sets in, I have time to process the venison harvested from our hunts. Some years I get too busy with things, though, and will take meat into a processing plant. I prefer though to take time to work on things myself.
Over the years, I have invested in getting heavy duty grinder, vacuum sealer, mixer, dehydrator and, along with various knives and jerky gun. I’m currently saving funds for a large smoker to make summer sausage and ring bologna.
Being a DIY’er at heart, I find satisfaction in processing my venison. I know for sure that I’m getting my meat, and I know exactly what is going into it. I have become partial to using Hewitt’s Meat, located in Marshfield as the butcher, to supply trimmings blended into various mixtures I make. The staff there is always helpful, and when they are not busy running around serving other customers, they take a moment to chat with you.
Taking venison to make into ground burger is an annual task. I will take 3lbs venison to 1 lb of beef or pork trimmings to make the blend. My preference is to use beef trimmings for the burger meat. This year I had upgraded the head on the LEM grinder and purchased a dual grinding head. That has been a time-saving purchase.
This dual grinding head allows you to run your meat through the grinder once, and it double grinds it in one single pass. Before that concept, the process would entail a grind with one plate size, then change out to smaller plate size, and grind again. I no longer have to go through that process.
Then I run the finished product through a stuffing tube and into game freezer bags; these freezer bags are handy one-pound size. It’s a much faster method than from years ago when we would wrap first with plastic wrap and then wrap it in freezer paper.
A new item that I made this year is a brat patty (see header photo); it’s something that my family was getting done by a butcher. I got to thinking it can’t be that complicated to make these things. I need to find the seasoning. Well, I found it on a website called Walton’s Inc., the specific seasoning I was looking for was Jerry’s Bratwurst Seasoning.
I applied the typical mixture of 50 percent venison and 50 percent pork trimmings. Anything brat or breakfast link related, my preference is pork trimmings on those types of combinations. The batch I made was 18 pounds (combined venison and pork). Here is where I like Walton’s website, they have a section on their website called Meatgistics. This section gives you a break down of how much seasoning you need when you are doing batches smaller than 25 pounds. All of their seasonings are listed on that page. Scroll to find your seasoning and add the appropriate amount.
The meat and seasoning you can mix by hand, which is the method I used to use. Since then, I have purchased a manual mixer from Lem Products that will handle 20-pound batches. The manual mixer improves the blending process between the meat and the seasoning.
Once mixed, I chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours. It just seems like I get better flavoring when I let it chill for a few hours. Once chilled, then form the mixture into patties. To have them turn out into equal-sized patties, I use the LEM Products burger press.
Each patty is separated by parchment or wax paper; I stack them into a container and freeze them overnight before I vacuum seal them into four-count packages. Now the real test was seeing if they would pass the taste test from Mom. She is rather picky about the taste of venison. I gave my parents a package of the patties, and now Mom says next season I’m making patties for them. Maybe I shouldn’t have given them a sample and just kept this to myself!
The activity of processing your venison is a labor of love and dedication. I look at it, though, as I’m teaching my boys a skill for them to use years down the road, and it gives me something to do when the temperature or winter weather patterns turn real nasty.
If you are looking for something to do and are starting to get spring fever, the Central Wisconsin Sports Show is being held this weekend and runs until Sunday. You will be able to check out the latest fishing tackle. I will recommend that if you are looking for a new fishing rod, stop by Ross’s Sport Shop and Guide Service booth to check out the Elk River Rods. Elk River Rods are custom made in Phillips, WI, and Marc does a great job producing a custom rod at a very reasonable price.
It won’t be too much longer, and this weather pattern will break, then I can get back outside to share the outdoor adventures with you; in the meantime, stay safe and find your way to celebrate the experience!
We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!