Is Beef Stick the same as Summer Sausage (just without the ECA)?

  • Team Orange

    I never buy summer sausage because it is just too tangy/sour for me (I really don’t like any of them). I know of a couple of meat markets that advertise and sell Beef Stick, and it is great, but expensive! Is it the Encapsulated Citric Acid that makes summer sausage tangy? If I make Summer Sausage, without ECA, will it be more like the plain Beef Stick I mentioned? If so, I’d really like to make my own with one of the Summer Sausage Seasonings (perhaps the H Summer Sausage seasoning, or maybe the Jalapeno Summer Sausage seasoning.

  • Team Orange Power User Veteran

    It absolutely is. I don’t care for the ECA as well. You’ll just need to hold the sausage overnight after stuffing and before smoking. Walton’s does have a smoked meat stabilizer that you can add if you wish to smoke right away. I’ve not tried the H but the jalapeno and cracked pepper & garlic are both very good.

  • Team Orange

    Great to know… Thanks! I’ve recently made a couple of 12 1/2 pound batches of Jalapeno Snack Sticks using regular hamburger (73/27 ratio) and everyone loved them. I didn’t want to risk using the last of my venison, in case they didn’t turn out as good as I expected, but it way exceeded my expectations! Now I think I will order some of the large casings and Jalapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning, and try a 5 lb. or 10 lb. batch with venison and pork butt. A while back, we made 5 lbs. of German Hunter’s sausage, grinding 3 1/2 lbs. of venison, and 1 1/2 lbs. of pork butt. I don’t know what kind of ratio that gave me (not using regular pork fat), but the sausage tasted pretty darned good. Thanks again!

  • Team Orange Power User Veteran

    I was using roughly that same ratio for years. Decided to go 50/50 venison and pork butt this last time after some recommendations on this site. Actually like it better and stretches out that precious venison a little bit.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    IndianaJohn It is the ECA that makes it tangy in the way we do it but there are other ways of achieving the same thing. Some people use a starter culture and then it can also be dry-cured. But the way we make it, yes the only difference is the seasoning and the sized casing.

  • Team Orange

    I am at the understanding that ECA helps with the shelf stability also. I know someone who had summer sausage get moldy in the middle. I do not know how long it was in the fridge. I told them about Carrot Binder and ECA to help with stability. Was I accurate?

  • Team Orange

    I wouldn’t expect to hold product for any length of time in the fridge. I would make my beef stick using the supplied spices and cure, smoke them, and then freeze them (I do use carrot binder). I expect that after thawing one, it wouldn’t last in the fridge more than a few days before it would be all eaten.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    eimalicious Yes, Encapsulated Citric Acid helps with shelf stability by lowering the pH and making microbial growth much harder. However, if your friend’s summer sausage molded from the inside out I think he has more than 1 issue! My guess would be that he added an ingredient that wasn’t prepared properly?

    IndianaJohn Makes a good point, even with cured and lowered pH meat snacks, the deep freeze is the best place for them if they are not going to be eaten within a couple of days.

  • Team Orange

    One more summer sausage question. I’m planning on using the smoked meat stabilizer (but not ECA) so I can go directly from stuffing to smoking. I like the Carrot Binder, can I use that instead of the Sure Gel Meat Binder mentioned in the summer sausage recipe?

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    IndianaJohn Yes, you can substitute sure gel with Carrot Fiber if you want! Just be aware, the carrot fiber doesn’t add protein like the sure gel, it hold moisture but doesn’t technically aid in protein extraction.

  • Team Orange PK100 Sous Vide Power User

    IndianaJohn I just made a batch of Summer sausage without ECA, and I quite like it.

    I almost added the ECA, but I balked on it at the last minute because I didn’t want to go straight to the smoker (I got a later start than I had intended and wasn’t up for a late night). I don’t know if I’m going to add any for another batch. If I do, I probably will add less than the 1 tsp/lb. I don’t want much more tang than what curing provides, and I’m not worried about shelf stability. All the sausage will live in the fridge or freezer.

    On that, I recommend holding the Summer sausage in the fridge for a few days after smoking and before freezing, if you can get away with it. I’ve found that the flavor develops a great deal. I smoked this batch on Friday, and it was pretty good that evening. I took some to a family gathering on Saturday, and it was better than the night before. We had some more last night (had not been frozen), and holy cow! It was great!

    Regarding binders, I really like the texture that Sure Gel provides.

  • Team Orange


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