A sausage stuffer is a kitchen tool which is designed to assist people with stuffing sausages. Sausage stuffers come in the form of standalone stuffers or as attachments for meat grinders. In both cases, they hold sausage casings firmly in place while they are stuffed, and they include cranks which are used to slowly force sausage meats into the casings. If you want to make sausage at home, a sausage stuffer is a must-have tool.
Sausages are cured meats which are made by stuffing a blend of ground meats and spices into a casing which keeps it tightly enclosed. Such casings were traditionally made from intestines, although modern casings may be made from a variety of materials. Once sausages are stuffed, they can be cured through drying, smoking, or cooking so that they become shelf stable. Depending on the type of sausage, the sausage may need to be cooked before it can be consumed.
Some people also enjoy fresh sausage, which is typically eaten within a few days of being made, or frozen for up to six months. Fresh sausage has a much more mild flavor, making it preferable for people who are unaccustomed to cured meats. It can also be made with more diverse and potentially unstable ingredients, as the cook can focus on flavor rather than preservation when making fresh sausage.
As one might imagine, it is extremely important to pack sausage meat well, or the sausage will simply fall apart, develop a strange shape, or cure improperly. While this can be done by hand with the assistance of reaming tools, a sausage stuffer is a much more efficient tool for this task. To use a sausage stuffer, people attach the casing and then load their mixed sausage meats into a hopper. Depending on how the sausage stuffer is designed, a crank or lever is manipulated to slowly but firmly push the sausage meat into the casing, which can be periodically twisted to create individual sausages, or left in the form of a long rope, depending on the style of sausage being made.
Most sausage stuffers are fairly easy to use, and they come with directions, just in case. The important part of using a sausage stuffer is the cleanup. Ground meats are especially susceptible to contamination, so it is very important to clean a sausage stuffer extremely well, ensuring that no unwanted bacteria or other organisms linger on the stuffer. Ideally, a sausage stuffer will break down, allowing cooks to scrub every nook and cranny, and in some cases a sausage stuffer may even be dishwasher safe. If a sausage stuffer cannot be run through the dishwasher, a soak in a strong antiseptic like bleach is highly recommended.