• Team Orange

    I have some experience with summer sausage, but I’ve never made snack sticks. A buddy who is brand new to smoking has asked me to teach him how to turn a bunch of his venison into snack sticks. I plan to use Sure-Gel, ECA and high-temp cheese.

    Going through the Meatgistics videos I see two fairly different sets of time/temp instruction. I’m running an electric smoker controlled by an Auber PID, so I have no problem doing either but hoped for some clarification on which is best.

    Drying (dampers full open, no smoke, no humidity):

    • 120°F for 10 minutes
    • 130°F for 30 minutes

    Smoking (dampers 1/3 open, add humidity, apply smoke)

    • 130°F for 1 hour
    • 150°F for 1 hour
    • 160°F for 1 hour

    Finishing (dampers closed unless needed for combustion, add humidity, no smoke)

    • 180°F until meat = 160°F

    Drying (dampers full open, no smoke, no humidity):

    • 125°F for 1 hour

    Smoking (dampers 1/3 open, add humidity, apply smoke)

    • 140°F for 1 hour
    • 155°F for 2 hours

    Finishing (dampers closed unless needed for combustion, add humidity, no smoke)

    • undefined175°F until meat = 160°F

    Then both had an ice bath and dried at room temp for an hour.

    It seems like the first one takes the ECA through its transition phase a little slower, and that it finishes the sausage a little more aggressively. I’ve seen another recipe that wants the finishing step at 170°F, which eases the sticks up to 160 more slowly.

    I have no idea what the impact of these slight differences (if any) might be. Since this will be my first batch and it’s someone else’s meat I hope to learn through others before I learn from experience.

  • Regular Contributors Power User

    The smoking schedules and thermal processing have a couple objectives.

    1. Raise the internal temperature of the product to the desired “kill” temperature to make a safe product.
    2. Add smoke flavor.
    3. Bind and dry the product to the desired texture.
    4. Activate any special additives like ECA, as just one example.

    It is important to realize that it is possible to do all of the above with different schedules. So there is no one right answer.

    Regardless of the schedule used, it is usually possible to achieve all of those objectives.

    Personally, when I am doing something new, I do ongoing hands-on monitoring throughout the thermal processing to track progress.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    KillerNoms Honestly what I would recommend is to run him through this process at least once https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/762/cured-sausage-107-basics-for-making-summer-sausage so he ahs an understanding and then move on to the advanced method where you pull the meat at 130 and finish it up sous vide style https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/1108/cured-sausage-206-advanced-cured-sausage-processing

    I rarely every smoke anything all the way to 160 anymore, it takes too long and has a tendency to dry the meat out.

  • Team Orange

    Jonathon What temp do you smoke to? I’ve been wondering about lower temps. Using the USDA temp schedule it would be technically safe to smoke somewhere in the low 130’s if you held it there at least a couple of hours, but if I understand things correctly that would be too low for the ECA to dissolve. And I can’t help but wonder how it would affect texture or case wrinkling.

  • Sous Vide Canning American BBQ System Team Blue

    KillerNoms what most of us do now, is pull the sticks at between 130-140, I pull mine at 133-135 and put them in a sous vide water bath at about 172° until internal temp is 160, which is instant lethality to kill off any bacteria…the water bath for me (using 17mm collagen) only takes about 30-40 min tops then I ice bath for about 20 min till internal is below 100 then I air dry on paper towels before sealing and refrigerating or freezing

    You definitely want to make sure they’re dry before sealing because if any moisture is in the bag at sealing and freezing, the casings will separate from the meat when they’re thawed which sucks after all that work!

    Hope this helps!

  • Sous Vide Canning PK100 Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Veteran

    We are all a bit different. I make a lot of snack sticks and have migrated to the sous vide finishing method. I think this is because I don’t like to outwait the temp wall. That usually begins around 145-150.
    I use a PK100 that imparts a whole lot of smoke flavor.I do
    125 for 1 hour - drying period (crucial)
    140 for 1 hour - full smoke
    155 until internal temp is 140.
    Switch to sous vide for finishing. Or.
    Keep it at 155 for 2 hours - full smoke.
    Raise to 175 until internal temp hits 165…

    I switched to sous vide also because dung the wall the casings tend to dry and wrinkle a bit. Regardless don’t forget your ice bath.

  • Sous Vide Canning American BBQ System Team Blue

    lkrfletcher how many snack sticks can you fit in the pk100? What casings you using? I’ve been itching to buy a pk100 but honestly holding out for something bigger potentially!

  • Sous Vide Canning PK100 Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Veteran

    I usually do 12.5 pound batches as it is just me and the wife here. But I think you could easily hang 25lbs.

  • Sous Vide Canning American BBQ System Team Blue

    lkrfletcher that wouldn’t be bad, I’m working into more commercial stuff, have been processing stuff for a bunch of friends and family during deer season and even off seasons, but can truly only fit about 10 lbs in mine without worrying about them all touching and causing issues… maybe the pk wouldn’t be so bad, 25 lbs at a time is a GOOD amount of sticks!

  • Sous Vide Canning PK100 Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Veteran

    It is one heck of a smoker. They are pricey but very effective. I actually found mine used in Craigslist for $275… best deal I think I’ve ever found.

  • Sous Vide Canning PK100 Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Veteran

    RJ Adventures
    If your looking for a bigger PK100 you should talk to twilliams.

  • Sous Vide Canning American BBQ System Team Blue

    lkrfletcher oh man that’s insane! Waltons sells them for 1800 plus additional fees if it’s residential and stuff like that, but I’ve been itching to pull the trigger for sure

    What kind of sawdust you usually use? And you use the same size pan for water?

  • Sous Vide Canning PK100 Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Veteran

    I use my old Bradley pan for water. I like apple and hickory sawdust.

  • Sous Vide Canning PK100 Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Veteran

    I just add a big old car washing sponge in the water to add humidity. We don’t have a lot of humidity in Colorado.

  • Sous Vide

    Does anybody use a turkey roaster pan as their sous vide vessel? I picked one up to use but am wondering will the water come up to temp quickly or do you put boiling water in the pan and use the temp settings to regulate the desired temp 172-177?

  • Team Orange

    Yes it can work, sort of, but there are limitations. Roaster ovens don’t have precise temperature control, but if your ambient conditions are relatively consistent (as in a kitchen in a normally climate controlled home) you should be able to to dial them in to reasonable precision. Way less than an immersion circulator, but maybe enough for the purpose. But another problem is that, unlike an immersion circulator that keeps the water moving, the water will be still in the roaster oven. This will slow the heating effect, and make it possible that the product closer to the heated surface will be exposed to higher heat than the product farther from the heated surface. Again, these differences may be tolerable.

    A roaster oven powered though a PID (I use an Auber) is my #1 go-to tool for making stock, because it is safe, stable and high volume (mine is 22qts). But I think that an immersion circulator is a better way to go if you’re trying to do a sous vide cook.


  • Team Orange PK100 Sous Vide Power User

    If you’re using a water bath that is up in the 175ish range, then I don’t see why precision is all that important. Since you’re set a good deal higher than your target internal temperature, you still have to babysit it, and a precise water temperature isn’t important. At that point, the only advantage of a sous vide wand is circulation.

    If you’re trying to do a true sous vide (where you set the water bath temperature to your target internal temperature), then precision is critical.

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