davew1 you also. Good luck 👍
Snack Stick disaster!
Someone please help me figure out snack sticks!!!
Yesterday, I attempted to smoke 20lbs of snack sticks for the first time. I failed miserably! According to what I’ve read, what should be a 4-5 hour task turned into 11 hours and all 20 pounds of snack sticks ruined. All of the fat rendered out of the meat and looked like a sheath of fat between the meat and the casing. Entire process is below…
Friday, I thawed out 20 lbs. of ground venison that had somewhere between 10-20% pork fat in it from the deer processor. I ran all 20 lbs. through the grinder once (even though it was already ground by the processor). After grinding, I put all 20 pounds in a meat mixer and added the seasoning and cure packets from a “Hi Mountain” snack stick kit and then 5 cups of water. I mixed for what seemed like forever. Probably 20 minutes or so. I mixed for a while because I felt like the 20 lb capacity mixer was too full and it just didn’t seem like it was mixing very well. I used a spatula to help churn things around as the mixing blades passed by. I did that until I thought I had, what in my opinion looked like, good protein extraction. I’m new to this so I’m only going off of watching Walton’s and Meatgistics videos over the last week. Next, I stuffed 17 pounds of meat into the 19mm smoked collagen casings. I ran out of casing so I stuffed the remaining 3 pounds into a summer sausage casing that had been soaking for 30 minutes. Finally, I put everything in the refrigerator overnight (12 hours).
The next morning, at 11am, I weaved the long stuffed casings up and down in between the slots of the top rack of my Masterbuilt smoker. The casings hung down about 20 inches from the top rack. Then I turned the smoker on and followed the Mestgistics smoking schedule to a T. Or at least I tried. 120° for 1 hour (no water, no smoke, vent wide open). Bumped up to 130° for 1 hour (no water, no smoke, vent 3/4 closed). Bumped up to 150° for 1 hour (added full water pan and soaked mesquite wood chips). Bumped up to 160° for one hour (added more wood chips). At this point, I was 4 hours in and the temperature of the meat was only at 130° and VERY SLOWLY climbing. I’m talking like one degree every half hour. I Bumped up to 175° hoping to be done when the meat reached 165° but now the temp was climbing even slower. Thinking the meat should’ve been done by now, I decided to bump the temp to 190°. Still very little increase in meat temp. It’s now 9pm (10 hours from when I first turned the smoker on) and still had 10 degrees to go according to my meat thermometer. I cranked the temp to 225° and finally got the meat temp to 165° an hour later. I immediately removed the meat and put it all in a cooler ice bath for 10 minutes. I pulled everything out of the ice bath and placed it on the kitchen table. What I saw was something along the lines of what you’d see if your wife gave birth to an alien. I didn’t know what I was looking at and how “THAT” was the end result of all my hard work. Most of the entire length of the casings had large, long white streaks. Several spots even had like fluid in the casing that I could move around by sliding my finger along the casing. I cut a section open length wise and not only was the casing not adhered to the meat, but the white sections I originally noticed was all of the fat that had rendered out of the meat. Like a sheath of fat between the meat and the casing. Even the 3 pound summer sausage casing turned out the same way. I did rinse the fat sheath away and taste the meat and you couldn’t even taste the smallest hint of smoke. Needless to say, it was all a disaster and I’m very discouraged. Especially wasting 20 pounds of venison. Extra notes: the meat thermometer works as it should. The smoker was outside in 35° weather. PLEASE HELP!
Denny O Iowa Regular Contributors Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Green Mountain Grill Power User last edited by
In my opinion, temps of 190 and 225 was the killer. I verve from the 165 finished temp too. My finish temp is in the low mid 150. The timeline for me when I’m doing meet sticks and larger logs is long in a smoker. I put them in the oven when I’ve got enough smoke and want to power through the stall. I don’t know why because a temp is a temp. Meaning, if the smoker and oven both maintain an equal temp why should it matter? I don’t know but in my home it does.
glen Regular Contributors Team Grey Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt Power User Meat Hack Winner Veteran last edited by
Spmaher3 Your meat thermometer may be accurate but what about the Masterbuilt?
My Masterbuilt electric runs about 20 deg. low.
Also did you have a source for humidity in the smoker?
For fat out like you showed, it is likely too high temperatures. Check your temperature monitoring for accuracy!
Spmaher3 that is a devastating experience for sure. I think everyone else offered the solution to this issue. I’ve seen a few losses like this for people lately. While I’m sure it’s discouraging, hopefully you’ll try again. I like to make my sticks in smaller batches more often as opposed to one big batch. This may not work for your situation I suppose, but I find it more economical as I’m in the learning phase with this as well.
bocephus Team Orange Power User Canning Masterbuilt Regular Contributors Veteran New Mexico Sous Vide last edited by
glen That was my thought also, I always monitor my Masterbuilt with a more accurate thermometer. Also I bought the pellet smoke adapter for it and have been a lot happier with the results.
Spmaher3 From just looking at the meat before I read your comments I was thinking it would be a lack of protein extraction. However, your mixing time would seem to take that out of the equation. Now, there IS such a thing as overmixing but that wouldn’t have caused this as far as I can tell. Now, there is a temperature factor to protein extraction, higher the temperature the meat is while mixing the more salt it needs to actually solubilize the protein and let them bind together. So, it is possible that a mixture of less salt and higher mixing temperatures played their part here.
However, I really think it was the higher-end cooking temperatures at the end of the cook cycle. This is why adding humidity beyond just a water bowl is so important, it cuts down your smoke time. What could have happened is you got “case hardening” this is where the outside of the sausage cooks or dehydrates too quickly, creating a barrier on the outside that prevents heat from passing through to the inside which will greatly increase the cook times. A set of a few automotive sponges can help add more humidity or finishing the sausages up in a Sous Vide cooker will prevent this.
Do you happen to remember if you saw the fat out earlier when you checked on it at all? If you weren’t seeing it at 130° then the higher end temps are the culprit.
A few other things:
Didn’t see a binder added, Sure Gel Meat Binder is a good way to increase the margin of error for binding issues
Quality of the meat? This can matter, I am not trying to insult your deer but it is possible that issues with the harvesting or just the deer in general?
Last thing I can think of is if the seasoning mix either did not have enough salt, or it wasn’t formulated for a 20 lb batch like you did?
If you have a MB 30 then 20 lbs may be too much at one time. When I first got started with snack sticks I tried a big batch and ran into the same problem of it taking way longer than I expected. I also think the the temperature cycles of the MB spent more time below the actual set temp and that can mess with cooking times.
cdavis Team Blue Masterbuilt Canning Kamado Joes Regular Contributors Power User Sous Vide Oklahoma last edited by