Whether you’re a deer hunter, farmer or like to save money by purchasing whole animals, a home butcher shop is a must. To get the most out of your prize, you need a multi-station processing center. The station described below is based on a commercial processing facility; but at a size that makes sense for personal use.
The Butchering Station
The ideal butchering center is a 20′ x 20′ metal facility with concrete flooring, supported by secure ceiling joists. The floor should gently slope to a central drain to remove blood, cleaning fluids and water. Anchor a steel rail to the ceiling joist and affix drop-down hooks. These must be sturdy enough to suspend a deer carcass or side of beef. The building should be equipped with air conditioning to keep the station cool on warm days.
Tables, Counters and Sinks
Install a few tables and counters with a thought to supporting heavy muscle groups. These should be of stainless steel or similar material that can be easily cleaned and sterilized. They should be positioned at a proper height to allow for comfort during times of use. Additionally, at least one of the should be on wheels, which makes it much easier to transfer heavy parts without strain or injury. Install a water heater and build a deep steel sink into a fixed counter top for cleaning and washing up. Finally, setup a garbage station as far away from the butchering area as possible.
Get Good Knives
Invest in good knives with sharp edges, but don’t go overboard. You don’t need a set of chef’s knives from Shun or Henckels. A few sturdy boning knives, a butcher’s blade and handsaw will do the trick in most situations. If you desire to cut bone-in steaks or chops, a band saw is a good investment. Make sure you use the saw only on meat and never lubricate it with oils that are not food grade.
Grinding, Drying and Smoking
You’ll want a commercial grade meat grinder for making burgers and sausage. Go big here, as small devices can burn out under heavy usage. While most devices come with basic sausage making attachments, you should invest in a quality sausage stuffer to speed up the process and avoid casing blowout.
If you love jerky (and who doesn’t), acquire a high-grade dehydrator. Look for a system with multiple drying racks and a well calibrated temperature apparatus. A meat slicer is also of great value to turn large roasts into strips for jerky.
A quality smoker is another tool you should think about. It preserves meat while enhancing the flavor. While a wood insert box for your grill can do the job, you’ll be better off with a cabinet smoker or dedicated smoking grill to turn out prefect hickory smoked ribs and chops.
After all the work you’ve done to butcher a carcass, you want to make sure the meat will last a long time when frozen. Commercial vacuum sealers are your best bet. Vacuum sealed meat can last three times as long as meat wrapped in plastic, foil or freezer paper.