Howdy, howdy! I’m back… the fourth grader on the field trip. This time, though, I got to witness the sausage stuffin’ process. And, I must say, sausage is not near as complicated as bacon. I actually understood most of the process and the “whys” of it all.
Bacon? Now, bacon I obviously would have no idea how that was made until touring Pederson’s. Nevertheless, pre tour, I’d feel comfortable eating it. Sausage, though? Sausage sometimes scares me a wee bit. You hear “things” about sausage. Right? So, sausage was an even bigger mystery to me. But, I’ve got to say… after seeing the Pederson’s process, I’d TOTALLY eat their sausage and feel great about it. That’s always good news, right? Because, I mean, sausage is AMAZING… SOOO yummy!
Okay… let’s get this show on the road. Sausage starts with one of those 2000 pound combos, as well… just like the bacon. Except, sausage is not made from pork bellies. It’s made from ham trim. Big ol’ strips o’ pork is what it looked like to me. (It made me happy not to see… umm… weird cuts of meat or questionable “things” in the mix.) But, anyway, they start by throwing 200 pounds of ham trims into a bowl chopper. Now, this thing is MASSIVE. Think about how much meat that thing holds. I mean, you could put over 1½ of me in there. Wow. (Odd thought, though. I don’t like that thought.)
All clean, fresh, ready to be utilized big ol’ bowl chopper:
And, the fella loading it up with 200 pounds of meat:
And, the meat… ready to be chopped up by those big ol’ blades!:
So, once it’s all loaded up, on it goes. At this point, it basically looked like an ENORMOUS food processor to me. As the bowl spun, one guy sprinkled in the magic dust seasoning. Another guy added a bit of water so that the seasonings would be evenly disbursed amongst the meat. And, then it just spun. And spun. And spun… until it was all chopped to the perfect sausage consistency.
From there, it gets put into a tub of sorts to be moved on to the next machine. The next machine has a very technical name. It’s very scientific. It’s called the sausage stuffer. No, really. That’s what they told me. Told you it was technical.
So, here at the sausage stuffer, there are a few guys working. One guy takes the natural casing and puts it on a… well… tube of some sort. The tube fills the casing with the freshly chopped and seasoned ham trim. And, apparently, that tube spins at some point which creates the perfect sized sausage instead of one insanely large, 200 pound link. Ha! (That would be awesome.)
Which brings me to a tangent. I just did some simple (for most people) mathematics. (It took me far too long to figure out, but that’s why I’m not a mathematician.) Anyway, IF that little tube didn’t spin, and IF Pederson’s would just let all 200 pounds of ham trim run through the sausage stuffer, and IF there were natural casing long enough, that breakfast sausage link would be 1/5 of a mile long!!!! Whoa nelly. That’s crazy. Could you imagine? I mean, that’s NEARLY an entire lap around a football field.
Okay… back to it. So, here’s the natural casing waiting for a purpose.
And, here’s the guy threading that sausage casing over the tube. (Man… that seems like a tedious job. I’d probably end up in a rage of frustration about a billion times a day trying to get that casing where it’s supposed to go.)
And, the sausage stuffer doing it’s thing.
When the sausage is done being stuffed, there’s a guy that inspects all the links to make sure they’re just perfect. So, if it’s too short or too long or… I don’t know… ugly(?), he’ll set that one aside. If it’s too short, he’ll squeeze the meat out of the casing, and it’ll be run through the sausage stuffer again. If it’s too long, he’ll squeeze out the excess and give it a twist at the right length. If it’s ugly… well… back to the stuffer it goes.
But, let’s say they all come out perfect (and most of them do). So, then that same quality control guy either A) cuts them apart to then go on to be packaged as uncooked breakfast sausage links or B) hangs the linked sausages over some… thing (I didn’t catch the name of that contraption) to be cooked there at Pederson’s and sold as fully cooked breakfast sausage links.
Now, that day, I just followed the uncooked breakfast sausage links to completion. I’ll have to do a follow-up for the fully cooked. Okay, so, there’s another gentlemen that patiently awaits the freshly stuffed & cut sausages. He grabs them and lays them ever so nicely on a “tree.” (Hey… that’s what they tell me it’s called. It looks NOTHING like a tree, but whatever.)
See how perfectly these sausages are laid out on this tree? Ahhh… it’s sausage as far as the eye can see.
Then, like TWO seconds later, that tree is wheeled into the next room for packaging and the beauty of that tree o’ sausage is just nearly immediately dismantled. Here, we’ve got a guy that takes six links of sausage and places them into the top “film” of the packaging. That top, clear film is lined up in a conveyer belt type of thing. He puts six links in each package, then runs it through a machine that seals it with the bottom, black film.
So, those sealed up packages come out the other end of this machine and are immediately placed into the boxes or cases (as they’re technically called). Like the bacon, the cases are run through a metal detector, then stacked on pallets where they await being shipped to the grocery store.
And, that, my friends, is the story of how Pederson’s makes and packages breakfast sausage. Isn’t it just so much fun?!?