How To Make Snack Sticks
Our latest how-to video for Meatgistics is about How To Make Snack Sticks.
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Join in on the conversation about making snack sticks! What is your favorite flavor? Do you prefer beef, pork, wild game or chicken? Is there anything you need help or input from others in perfecting your process?
What Makes a Snack Stick
A snack stick is a meat snack stuffed into a small diameter casing, typically with a low pH from around 4.5 to 5.2 which provides that familiar tangy flavor, plus it helps aid in shelf stability. Another aid to shelf stability is a low water activity which means binding water in the product to make it unavailable to support microbial growth. This is not something that can really be measured by a home meat processor, but we still setup our process and thermal processing to attempt to achieve a lower water activity. Snack sticks can be made from beef, pork, chicken, wild game, or a combination of meats. We typically recommend using a lean to fat ratio of 80/20, but up to 30 or 40% fat is still just fine and the extra fat will mean more flavor.
25 lb 80/20 beef trim
1 package Excalibur Buffalo Bleu Cheese Snack Stick Seasoning
1 oz Sure Cure
6 oz Sure Gel Binder
2 quarts ice water
4 oz Encapsulated Citric Acid
2 to 3 lb of high temp cheese
19mm Collagen Casings
Start the initial grind with a 3/8" grinder plate, then grind a second time through a 1/8" grinder plate. Always use a sharp grinder knife and plate. This will help you retain a better particle definition, color, and help prevent any smearing of the meat. If you cannot easily distinguish the lean from the fat when grinding, then it may be time for a new grinder plate and knife.
Using a meat mixer is preferred to hand mixing when making snack sticks. We need to make sure we get a lot of protein extraction, and that is a bit more difficult to achieve in hand mixing but still a possibility to do if you don’t have an actual meat mixer. We are going to want to mix for about 8 minutes, and we’ll want to reverse the direction of the mixing paddles every 1 minute. When you start the mixer, just start adding all the ingredients, except the Encapsulated Citric Acid and High Temp Cheese. These last two ingredients can be added in the last 45-60 seconds of the cycle, or just long enough to evenly disperse. Over mixing Encapsulated Citric Acid could lead to breaking the encapsulate and over mixing the cheese can lead to smearing and loss of shape.
Avoid creating air pockets when you load your sausage stuffer and begin stuffing until the casings are full with a smooth exterior. We will stuff into as long of ropes as we can, and then we’ll cut them to length when we actually hang on smoke sticks in the smokehouse.
Either hang on smoke sticks or lay on racks in your smokehouse or oven. Just be sure to leave a slight gap between the snack sticks. A simple cooking schedule you can follow is here:
125F for 1 hour
140F for 1 hour
155F for 2 hours
175F until internal meat temp of 160F
To help set the casing to the meat and also prevent wrinkling we need to shower the snack sticks when they are done cooking or put them in an ice water bath. It should only take around 10 minutes to get the temperature to drop down. Then, we’ll let them set out for about 1 hour before moving to the refrigerator/freezer. After we are totally done with the cooling process, then we will package in vacuum pouches for longer term storage.
It’s easy to get the basics on making snack sticks, but practice does make perfect. Walton’s has everything you need (except the meat) to make great snack sticks, plus we have the knowledge to help you perfect your own process. If you have any questions or need help in your process, please share your questions or comments below.
Meatgistics: How To Make Snack Sticks