Greetings from beautiful downtown middle of nowhere Montana. I’m John, new to the site but still an old guy. We live where we’re fortunate enough to have Whitetails, Muleys and the occasional Elk trespass through our property, although the Elk never seem to be there during season. Smart Elk. I built a smoker from an old freezer, we do turkeys, jerkys, and whatever else needs a good smokin’. We’ve made a few batches of pepperoni from my son’s Muley, some came out better than others. The last batch we made experienced some post-smoking shrinkage problems I thought you folks might have experienced yourselves. We used the 16mm smoke collagen casings, which we really like, glad I found 'em. I smoke them for about 6 hours, then finish them in the oven to make sure they get to 160 degrees. After a day or two, the casings became loose and you could peel them off real easy. They tasted fine, but lost a lot of their appeal. I filled them as tight as they’d go. I do like quite a bit of fat in them, I usually about 25% fat. Maybe too much fat? Not cooling them off in a bath? I put them in baggies and then in the frig. Any suggestions? Your expert advice is much appreciated. Thanks, loose and sloppy in Montana.
I don’t think it would be stuffing, if you filled them tight, and you are right on target with 25% fat.
A couple things could be happening to make the casings peel. Here are a couple areas to look at…
- Mixing - A thorough mixing cycle to get plenty of protein extraction (where the meat is really sticky) is very important. The sticky meat and protein extraction will help the meat adhere to the casing properly.
- Cooking - Use a low, slow and progressive cook cycle to slowly and evenly cook the meat snacks. Too high of a temperature right off the bat, or over-cooking, can lead to casings separating from the meat.
- Cooling - After cooking, the goal should be to cool the meat snacks as quickly as possible. We recommend using a cold water shower, or cold water (or ice water) bath. This quick cooling process helps set the casing to the meat and keep it from separating later. The goal would be too cool it to well under 115° F immediately after cooking has ended.
Let me know if you have any other questions, or if I can help expand further in any area there!