Too dry.

  • Well just taste tested my very first attempt at making venison snack sticks. I would give myself a C on the end result. I used excaliber jalapeno seasoning and added cheddar cheese (high temp).My ingredients were, 3/4 cup &3 tbsp. of seasoning, 1 cup & 1 tbsp. of carrot fiber binder, 1 1/4 tbsp. ECA, 1 1/4 tsp of sure cure, and 26 oz. of ice water. I followed the smoking time table to a t. My end product was ok taste wise, but the consistency was poor and they were pretty dry. The only thing I might have done wrong is leave my vents open the entire cooking time. I also used no water tray. From everything I have been reading, to prep up for this adventure, the idea is to get all the moisture out of the product. I think I am wrong on that assumption. Please help me out all you sausage gurus. I really want to get this right.

  • Why use fillers

  • I forgot to add that I used 7 lbs. of venison and 3 lbs. of pork trimmings.

  • Regular Contributors

    @hinoon I make a lot of snack sticks with very lean meat including venison and goose. My first attempts were much the same as you describe. The fat content you are describing is exactly what I use. How much fat/grease is at the bottom of the smoker when the batch is finished? When I have tried to do a 10 pound batch in a small smoker it can take 18 or more hours to finish if you are sticking to the maximum temp of 170. The small heating elements can’t produce enough heat to bring the meat up the desired temperature in the time most of us are willing to spend making a batch of snack sticks. When we urn up the heat to shorten the cook cycle the fat melts out and the sticks taste dry. On a positive note the jalapeno seasoning you chose produces one of the best game snack sticks I have ever tasted once you get the ratios and cook process figured out.

  • Walton's Employee

    @hinoon Adding a water pan would help slightly, it adds a few percentage points to the smokers chamber but I think its main advantage is that it speeds the cooking process. Think of how much hotter 90 feels when its humid than when it is bone dry?

    I’d guess that your vents being wide open the entire time was the real issue. You want that initial drying stage with the dampers (vents) open but after that you should shut it down to keep moisture in the meat. There are some people who are looking for very dry snack sticks, they are generally looking for something very specific and usually a shelf stable product but for taste having more moisture is a better thing.

  • Regular Contributors

    @cuddless More meat isn’t exactly a ‘filler’ and you get more product without sacrificing quality!

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  • P

    I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.

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  • E

    Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
    As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
    I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
    Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
    Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
    I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
    Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.

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  • K


    Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??

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  • K


    Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.

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  • @Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.

    One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.

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