Meatgistics Trouble Shooting Document

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Trouble Shooting Document
    This is a document that can be updated as we go, so if anyone has a suggestion, or a comment let us know and we can make changes and additions to it.
    Description of issue Type of Product Casing Type Cause(s) What can be done
    Dry crumbly meat Fresh Sausage Natural / Collagen 1. Low Fat Content
    2. Denatured Protein
    3. Too much collagen in meat block
    1. 70/30 Lean to Fat
    2. Do not add acidic ingredients
    3. Trim your meat to remove more collagen and connective tissue
    Dry Crumbly Meat Cured Sausage Natural/Collagen 1. Fat Out During Smoking or Cooking
    2. Low-Fat Content
    3. Denatured Protein
    1. Achieve better protein extraction during mixing
    2. 70/30 Lean to Fat
    3. If you used encapsulated citric acid make sure you do not rupture the encapsulation or hold the product overnight after stuffing, it needs to go right to the smokehouse.
    Casings Not Sticking Summer Sausage Fibrous / Inedible Collagen 1. Casings not properly prepared
    2. Put in cooler too quickly
    3. Not enough Protein Extraction
    1. Fibrous Casings must be soaked for 30 minutes in hot water before being used / Inedible Collagen casings must be soaked in 15° C 15% salt solution for 15 minutes
    2. Summer Sausage must be left out to air dry for at least an hour after they are taking out of the ice bath to allow them to dry, otherwise moisture will build up
    3. When mixing you need to achieve the proper level of protein extraction or the fat will render out and become stuck between the casing and the meat.
    Casings Not Peeling Cured Sausage Fibrous / Inedible Collagen 1. Casings not properly prepared
    2. Product was not properly cooled after cooking
    1. Fibrous Casings must be soaked for 30 minutes in hot water before being used / Inedible Collagen casings must be soaked in 15° C 15% salt solution for 15 minutes.
    2. Once you have reached an internal temp of 160° you must either plunge the sausage into an ice bath for 20 minutes or shower it with cold water for 20 minutes on and off every minute with a fan blowing. This helps "set" the casing
    Too Salty Bacon NA 1. Too much cure was injected.
    2. Product was not adequately rinsed.
    1. Measure carefully with an accurate scale and inject.
    2. Rinse off the bacon with running water for 20 minutes instead of sitting in a meat lug of water.
    Split Casings Cooking/stuffing Sausage Split Casings Cooking/stuffing 1. Casings were stuffed too tightly
    2. Casings were twisted too much
    3. Casings are old.
    4. Internal Temperature too high.
    1. Leave casings slightly understuffed, you can always tighten them up with a few extra twists.
    2. If casings are full to bursting twist as little as possible 3. Depending on how they were stored and how old they are casings might have become dry and brittle. You can try leaving them uncovered in a refrigerator overnight to slightly rehydrate them.
    4. Adjust smoke schedule to a lower temperature, especially at the beginning of the schedule.
    Seasoning Clumping Seasoning NA 1. Seasoning Improperly stored
    2. Exposed to moisture
    1. You can put seasoning in the microwave to help loosen it but it must then be used quickly or it will harden back up
    2. Store in cool dry place, or vacuum seal for long term storage
    Protein Extraction Not Happening Sausage Any 1. Meat has not been mixed enough
    2. Proteins have been denatured
    3. Meat is too warm
    1. Mixing by hand will require a long time to achieve proper protein extraction. If you are using a machine mixer you will still have to mix for about 8 minutes.
    2. Something has happened to the proteins of you meat to denature them. It could be that they were exposed to an acidic environment or were previously exposed to too much heat but once they have been denatured you will not be able to get protein extraction.
    3. Protein extraction will not work once the meat has gotten over a certain temperature, it is somewhere around 50° F. Unless you can quickly get the meat back under 40° the meat should be discarded
    Stuffing Blowouts Sausage Natural / Collagen 1. Casings are stuffed too tightly
    2. Casings are either old or were not cared for properly
    3. The casings are being twisted too much
    1. Stuff casings are less full. For collagen this means until you can barely see the swirl pattern running down the casing, for natural casings leave casing understuffed and tighten up when forming links.
    2. Check casings before use, if they are dry or brittle discard casings.
    3. Do not make as many twists on each link. With natural casings 2-3 twists is enough, for collagen the twist won't hold anyway, so just twists until links are separated.
    Meat is Grey Sausage NA 1. Cure was not added.
    2. Cure was not activated.
    3. Hasn't gone through thermal processing yet
    4. Vacuum bag has leaked
    5. Strong lighting
    6. Stored at too high a temp
    1. Add cure when mixing meat.
    2. Cure was not left in the meat long enough and no cure accelerator was used.
    3. When mixing cured sausage the meat will turn a brownish grey, it will not become the classic pink until it has gone through thermal processing.
    4. Choose a thicker (4 or 5 mil) bag or check bags better after packing.
    5. Store outside of direct light.
    6. Store in dark environment.
    Texture of Sausage is loose Sausage Any 1. Protein extraction was not reached
    2. Incorrect grinding size.
    3. Proteins were denatured before cooking.
    4. Meat was too lean
    1. Mix until the meat is sticky and tacky. You want it to stretch before breaking.
    2. Fresh sausage should have some larger texture to it. For cured sausage it should be smooth with very little particles.
    3. Do not add anything that can denature the meats, such as acid, while mixing meat. Make sure the meat you are using is in good condition.
    4. Do not use meat less than 15% fat but if you do then use a binder like sure gel or carrot binder. Also, consider adding cold phosphate to increase the pH of the meat.
    Stuffing is going slow Sausage Any 1. Meat does not have enough fat/water.
    2. Meat is too warm.
    3. Trying to use too small stuffing tube/casing.
    1. When mixing in seasoning and additives add additional water.
    2. Put meat in freezer before stuffing to bring down the temp and make the fat less sticky.
    3. Increase the size of stuffing tube and casing.
    Meat won't increase in temp Any Any 1. Meat has dried too much (case hardening).
    2. Environment is too dry.
    3. Temp isn't high enough.
    1. You need to start at a lower temperature in the smoker to prevent the outside of the sausage from cooking too quickly. This will allow the meat to efficiently pass the thermal energy on to the inside of the meat.
    2. Increase the humidity in your smoker. Automotive sponges in a large water pan are a good way to achieve this.
    3. Increase the temperature of your smoker or close the vents to keep more heat in.
    White Crystal on Jerky Jerky NA 1. This is salt, sugar or tyrosine coming to the surface as the jerky dries.
    2. If you tumbled the jerky it could have extracted the proteins from the meat
    3. It is possible that it is mold, though unlikely. Water content would have to be high for this to happen and vacuum seal would have to failed.
    1. Shorten your drying times by a small amount, though that won't always fix this.
    2. Tumble for less time, if your meat isn't picking up all the solution before the proteins start to extract try using less water.
    3. In rare occurrences where shelf pH and water activity limits for shelf stability were not met, a white mold might grow. Jerky should be discarded at this point.
    Grinding is taking long time Sausage NA 1. Your grinder plate and knife are dull.
    2. Your meat is too warm.
    3. Your grinder is underpowered
    1. Marry 1 plate to 1 knife. This allows them to wear at the same rate and increases the life of the plates and knives.
    2. Keep meat in the cooler or freezer until you are ready to grind. Somewhat frozen meat grinders wonderfully.
    3. A small kitchen #8 isn't designed to do large 25 lb jobs, if you are doing large batches, get a larger grinder.
    Meat coming out of grinder is mushed Sausage NA 1. Your grinder plate and Knife are dull.
    2. Your meat is too warm.
    1. Marry 1 plate to 1 knife. This allows them to wear at the same rate and increases the life of the plates and knives.
    2. Keep meat in the cooler or freezer until you are ready to grind. Somewhat frozen meat grinders wonderfully.
    Meat is coming up around piston in stuffer Sausage NA 1. Piston gasket is orientated incorrectly.
    2. Meat has "set up" or is too dry.
    1. Your piston should have the gap facing down, towards the meat, not at the top of the piston.
    2. Your meat has spent too long with proteins extracted, or it does not have enough water. You can attempt to add more water and mix it in with the meat, hoping to get it to loosen back up a little.
    Vacuum will not seal Equip NA 1. Seal time too short.
    2. Bag has too much fat/moisture for the seal bar to seal the bag.
    3. Seal Bar is bad.
    1. Increase seal time on your vacuum sealer, especially for bags that are thicker than 3 mil.
    2. Make sure the portion of the bag where the seal will be is clear of excess moisture and especially fat.
    3. Replace Seal bar.
    No getting adequate vacuum (non-chamber) Equipment NA 1. You are not using the right bags.
    2. Too much air in bag to begin.
    1. Only the textured bags will work with a chamberless machine.
    2. On a chamberless machine, if your bag is blown up like a baloon before you start the machine may time out before it reaches an appropriate vacuum. Make sure you limit excess air before sealing.
    Meat has an iridescent sheen to it Whole Muscle NA 1. Light refraction do to structure of muscles.
    2. Bacterial growth.
    1. Nothing to be done.
    2. Meat MUST be discarded. This can be determined if there is also purge and or an "off" smell. In the future pay more attention to sanitation and storage of meats
    Discoloration of Fat Any NA 1. Prescence of halophilic (Salt attracted)bacteria. 1. All meat must be discarded.
    Multiple colors in a single muscle Whole Muscle NA 1. Stress in the slaughtering process 1. For wild game try larger caliber/cleaner shots. For home butchering use a stunner and better slaughtering practices.
    Fat/Jelly inside Sausages Sausage Any 1. Stuffing too loosely, creating air pockets.
    2. Too much Collagen in meat block.
    3. Fat content too high in meat block.
    1. When stuffing, hold casing on the stuffing tube tighter. Loose stuffing creates air pockets. While thermal processing gelatin from the connective tissue, fat, or the binder will collect in these pockets.
    2. Choose cuts with less connective tissue/do more trimming before grinding.
    3. Make sure your fat content does not exceed 30% for normal sausages.
    Thin Greasy film on surface of sausage Cured Sausage Any 1. Not enough protein to stabilize emulsion.
    2. Protein extraction not achieved.
    3. Cooking at too high heat.
    4. Overworked mixture.
    5. Too much frozen protein/fat.
    1. Choose meat blocks with around 70% quality proteins and trim more.
    2. Mix until meat is sticky and tacky.
    3. Adjust temperature of smokehouse down, especially in early stages.
    4. Once protein extraction has been reached stop mixing.
    5. Allow meat to warm up either before, or after grinding to at least above 30° F
    Excessive shrinking during cooking Sausage Any 1. Too much fat in meat block.
    2. Bad fats were used.
    3. Meat could not hold water content.
    4. Poor bind in meat.
    1. Do not add more than 30% fat.
    2. Pork fat from high on the back is the best and should be used when possible. It is a harder fat that will stand up to cooking.
    3. Adding more water than your meat can hold can cause the meat to shrink during cooking. Proteins shrink when cooked and expel water. Add less water, increase pH or use a binder.
    4. Mix more thoroughly.
    Pale Ham/Bacon Color Whole Muscle NA 1. Ham not thoroughly cooked (faded pink, grey or light green).
    2. Ham was held at too low a temperature.
    3. Ham was held at too high a temperature
    1. Make sure you are mixing the injection solution or cover brine correctly and holding for the recommended amount of time.
    2. Do not hold hams below 32°F while curing.
    3. Do not hold hams over 40° F.
    Flat, acidic or sour flavor Pork Products Any 1. Bacterial Growth.
    2. PSE/Poor quality pork was used
    1. Some bacteria can leave no visual cues that they have been at work in your meat, and will only leave flavor indicators. If your meat smells sour before processing get rid of it. Use meat that is fresh.
    2. PSE (Pale Soft Exudative) is often sold at a discount, thought it can at time slip through the QA at even the best facilities. Your sausage is only going to be as good as the meat you work with. If you find yourself with PSE know that your end product will suffer.
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  • Pinned by  Austin Austin 
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Meatgistics is brought to you by Walton's (waltons.com). Meatgistics is a community site, knowledgebase, forum, blog, learning center, and a sharing site. You can find help and ask questions about anything related to meat processing, smoking and grilling meats, plus a whole lot more. Join Austin & Jon from Walton's and sign up for our Meatgistics community today. We have created Meagistics University, where we broke down meat processing into different categories and then broke it down into a class like structure. The introductory classes are 10s, the intermediate are 20s, and advanced are 30s.

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Walton's Inc. sells meat processing equipment and supplies, including all of the Seasoning, Equipment, Supplies, Packaging, and Casings needed to make almost any type of sausage. Walton's sells to the commercial customer with a focus on the small to medium-sized processing plants or butcher shops, and directly to the hunter or processor who makes their own product at home. Whether you are a commercial or retail customer of Walton's you will be receiving the exact same seasoning and supplies, we do not have a different "line" for commercial and retail customers so that everyone can make the best sausage or jerky possible!

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