• Greetings everyone. This is my first post. I am looking for advice on how to not break my sausage stuffer. I have the 5lb MEAT brand stuffer. It has a 1 9/16” opening, very similar to the LEM brand. I have been using a 13mm horn for 19mm casings with no issues, but a few friends and family are wanting me to produce thinner sticks like a 17mm collagen case. That’s why I am looking at the 10mm horn.
    I’ve read up on this horn a lot and others have had negative experiences using such a small horn. However other people have figured out how to safely use these thin horns.
    On my notes from meatgistics I have written down 1oz water / 1lb of meat. In regards to this horn several folks have suggested 1.25oz / 1lb of meat or 32oz for 25lbs of meat. My biggest concern is I don’t want to break my stuffer, but I also don’t want to invest so much time and money into the sticks for them to be mushy.
    If I did use more water as others have recommended how do I adjust my cook cycles to ensure my sticks aren’t mushy? I will be using SureGel as a binder.

    Thank you

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona


    Hi. Welcome! Your issue is easily solved.
    I’m gonna use kg because oz and lbs is PITA, I think if you switch to metric you’ll have a much easier time converting spices etc for batch size, and have fewer mistakes!
    Basically you should be using 10% water. So thats like 1.6oz per lb… or simply 100 ml per 1000g meat.
    I have the Meat 15lb stuffer. I have several 10mm tubes. I stuff 16 and 17mm sticks. The 5lb should be easier due to smaller diam piston.

    You can even go 15 to 18% water if needed. Here are the keys.

    1. Do everything you can to avoid the farce setting up before stuffing. That means:
    2. NO OVERNIGHT SITS IN FRIDGE! Stuff and THEN let it sit.
    3. Binder… you don’t absolutely need it. The more binder, the harder to stuff usually. Sure gel is OK, NFDM is good. Absolutely NOT carrot fiber, it will be unstuffable.
    4. Cook at low heat on a rising sched. 120 an hour, 130 an hour, 140 or 150, maxing out at 165. Until Internal temp is 145 for 4 min or 160 for 1 sec, etc… now pathogens are dead. This is called the lethality treatment.
    5. Don’t let external temp go above 165, thin sticks will dry out too fast and case harden.
    6. Extra water… so what. If you want it drier, just drop temp to 130 after your lethality treatment, and let it dry an extra hour. It dissappears fast from a thin stick, no issue.
    7. You keep temps low, and then go back to 130 to 140 to dry, because you don’t want the fat melting out which happens when external is 170 or higher, or IT gets up above 160.

    Alternatively, you could sous vide them for 30 min at 150 to 155, then stick them in a 130f drying setup. You need at least 130 f to dry so germs dont grow, which happens from 50 to 130f.

    Just add whatever water is needed to stuff, don’t worry about it, then just dry it off easily from thin sticks.
    Good luck!

  • Regular Contributors Power User

    batsonbe I am agreeing with Dave in AZ . Keep the mix thin enough that it will go through the stuffer by adding enough water.
    You don’t want to strip or break gears.

  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Sous Vide Team Blue Power User

    Nice response Dave in AZ .

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    samspade thx Sam! I hope he has good success, I like the thin sticks too! However, I mostly do 19mm now just to reduce total length, so I can fit a 5kg batch in my smoker!

  • Dave in AZ
    Thank you so much for the direction. I haven’t seen this specific information available anywhere. I hope someone else in the future may stumble across the information you shared and benefit from it as I will.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    batsonbe thx much! If you haven’t watched all the wonderful Meatgistics University videos Jonathon has made and posted , you definitely should. I can’t recall at this point what I learned from watching all the videos, and what I learned from doing it a few times lol. All the videos are short and pretty tight edits so you can go through them quickly and learn a lot, they are a huge benefit to the community!

    I will tell you that you’re lucky your stuffer takes a standard size tube! The 15lb one I have takes exactly 2", so the standard 2-1/16 ones don’t fit! At this point I WILL say I’m darn expert in finding the best stainless tubes and grinding them ground down to fit that dumb odd size! 😉

  • Dave in AZ
    I have watched all the ones on snack sticks but it’s been a while. I could use a refresher for sure.
    I like my snack sticks to have a good snap on the case, not hard. A firm texture on the meat but not dry and certainly not mushy.
    Once the sticks reach the desired temperature internal, how would one decide if they needed longer to dry?
    The last ones I made I cooked until internal of 165 and the texture was way off. It needed more time to dry. I didn’t know this until after I did the ice bath and cut them to size and had allowed them to bloom.

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Regular Contributors Power User Arizona

    batsonbe that isn’t a problem if not dry enough. Just put them on a wire rack and leave in fridge, they will dry out a good bit each night. Humidity in there is only 30 to 40% due to cooling cycle. Or toss in oven with door open so it holds 150f or less. Or air fryer. Or dehydrator. I live in Phoenix, and in summer if I put on rack above aluminum pan, and angle a shiny aluminum tray behind it, it will hold 130f just sitting in sun… that’s how I dry mine in 1 day to 50% moisture loss. Just dont leave it sit at 50f to 130 f , the pathogen “danger zone”, for more than 6 cumulative hours.

    Here’s some food safety info to consider for drying methods:

    As it dries out, the Water Activity, Aw, lowers. Basically the water that is unbound and available for bacterial use. It is measured as a water vapor pressure ratio, and takes $600 or more meters, so home producers usually estimate from charts…of course you couldn’t sell commercially that way.
    Below various Aw, and various pH, different common pathogens can’t reproduce. Salmonella is usually the hardiest of the common 10 or 11 food poisoning pathogens, so it is usually the one used to test for safety–if it hasn’t multiplied, then the others haven’t. There are charts to estimate shelf stability. Salt ties up water and lowers Aw, drying it out of course does. Lower more acidic pH makes it harder for bacteria thus allowing higher Aw, less dry, to still be effective.

    This is why salami is 2.5% salt minimum, and usually 3%, and meat is fermented to 5.3 pH or lower, and usually dried to 35% or more weight loss.

  • Dave in AZ

    Thank you very much for the clarity and suggestions!

  • Team Blue Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt Military Veterans Power User Regular Contributors

    batsonbe When mixing I honestly don’t use liquid measurements per recipe, but I start mixing and add liquid until the meat has a nice sheen and that look is recognizable once you have seen it. When stuffing sheep casings I go to the nice sheen then add just a touch more, drying on the back end as Dave suggested is much easier than pushing mud through a pin hole.

  • Yearling

    Dave in AZ just remember that life begins at 40. Keep everything cool until it goes into your smoker or dehydrater

  • Team Blue Masterbuilt Canning Kamado Joes Regular Contributors Power User Sous Vide Oklahoma

    batsonbe welcome to the community.

  • cdavis
    Thank you much!

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User Kansas

    Dave in AZ I always want to add that you shouldn’t add Soy Protein Blend or any soy based or cereal based binder to small diameter sausage as they will cause the meat to set up and make stuffing difficult/impossible depending on how thin you want the sticks.

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