Is Home Processing Right For You?

Posted on May 16, 2013

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Surra_CagedDo I want to process my own meat? That is a question we will help you answer in this edition of TSO. Home processing is something we enjoy and highly recommend but it is not for everyone. Let’s take a look at home processing pros and cons so you can decide for yourself.

Why Process Your Own Meat?

Are you fed up with sending your deer or other wild game to meat processors without knowing exactly how your meat will be processed? If you are anything like me then you are tired of paying a premium price to get the steaks, roasts, sausage, jerky, and other meat products from your deer, elk, moose, boar, etc.. Here are 5 Good Reasons why you should do your own meat processing instead of having a meat processor process your deer or wild game.

  1. Cost – Meat processors are expensive! Local processors charge labor (and rightfully so) for hide removal, butchering, and personalized meat processing. If you consistently harvest your fair share of wild game, then the startup cost associated with home processing can pay for itself very quickly and save you money in future years compared to the repeated purchasing of your local meat processor’s services. For a few hundred dollars you can buy the equipment necessary to make you own sausage and jerky.
  2. Taste – You can personalize your mixture of spices and seasonings to make your homemade sausage, jerky, and meat cuts fit the taste of you and your family. I still wish that I had the recipe for my grandfather’s venison sausage mix. That man knew his way around a spice rack.
  3. Quality & Control – Some meat processors process such large quantities of deer/game that they cannot guarantee the meat you get back came from your animal. Many can only promise you will receive meat from a deer of similar size and weight. Home processing gives you the comfort that comes with knowing you are eating your deer and exactly which part of your deer your sausage meat came from. Also, processors use preservatives and additives. Who can blame them? Afterall they are running a business and their financial well-being and reputation are at stake.
  4.  Fun – Home processing is fun! You can experiment with different seasonings and mixes for your jerky and sausage to find your preferred flavor. Most local meat processors will give you a limited number choices (sweet/spicy/plain). These mixes are purchased wholesale from large companies who sole purpose it to please the masses so the flavors are refined to meet the lowest common denominator and where is the fun in that?
  5. Family Tradition – Home processing is labor intensive. It is something your entire family can join in doing and techniques can be passed down from generation to generation.The countless hours I spent working in my grandfather’s freezing cold slaughterhouse hold some of my fondest memories. I have tried to replicate his famed venison sausage mix for nearly a decade. I still get teary eyed when I mix a batch and the smell resembles his.

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Why Pay Someone to Process Your Meat?

Here are 5 Good Reasons why it makes sense to pay someone else to process your meat instead of home processing.
  1. Cost – If you are not consistently harvesting game then it becomes increasingly difficult to see a return on your investment for home processing equipment. Local meat processors provide a service for a competitive price.
  2. Convenience – Finding time to get into the field is hard enough. Home processing is labor intensive. When are you going to find the time to do all that work? Local meat processors are convenient. One simple transaction gets you from dead wild animal to tasty dinner. All you have to do is drop it off, pay for a service, and pick up the finished product. You wont have to deal with disposing of a carcass or cleanup.
  3. Health & Safety – Local processors are regulated by both the state and federal government. Their shops are clean, safe, and up to code or at least they are supposed to be. You can rest that these local small business owners take their jobs and reputations very seriously and will do everything in their power to give you a quality product.
  4. Consistency – If local processors can guarantee one thing it will be consistency. They have a system for everything and will use the same seasonings and mixes year in and year out.
  5. Packaging – Packaging is a vital part of processing that often gets overlooked. It has been my experience that local processors package their product better than I do. Professional packaging protects against freezer burn and increases the amount of time you can safely consume the meat.

Hopefully you now have greater insight into the world of game processing and can choose what is best for you and your family. If you have any questions or comments email us at teamsurra@gmail.com.

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