What went wrong?

  • First time using waltons products. Made a 25 lb batch of summer sausage with the H summer sausage seasoning, sure gel cure and binder. 16 lbs of lean venison and 9 lbs of pork fat.
    Took a long time to get to 160 degrees. I had to bump up the temp to 185 after the internal temp stalled at 147 degrees. Took 13 hours to finish. The sausage ended up shriveled, oily, and really salty. I’ll probably end up throwing it all away.

  • After letting the sausage cool in the fridge over night… I’m throwing it all away. What a waste. Any flavor is overpowered by saltiness, the texture is just plain gross. I consider it inedible. I wouldn’t feed it to my dogs.

    This is not the first time I’ve made summer sausage, but it is the first time I’ve used Walton products. Never had a batch this bad before. I guess I’ll go back to the seasoning and castings I used to use.

  • Power User

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  • When making venison summer sausage I use 17 pounds of lean and 8 pounds of pork fat so I don’t think dante322 is far off. My experience in terms of saltiness has been similar when using Excalibur’s H Summer Sausage seasoning so I don’t use it anymore. I don’t think the stalling issue is related to the seasoning and cranking it up to 185 will definitely give you wrinkles and oil. Hopefully this won’t offend the sponsor of this great site but I find Deer Hunter summer sausage seasoning to be the best flavor profile when using wild game or very lean meat. It also produces a better texture for some reason. I am using ECA and cold phosphate regardless of the seasoning and my meat/fat ratio is also consistent. Just my 2 cents…

  • Walton's Employee

    @vjbutler The wrinkling could have been bumping it up to 185°. You say sure gel and binder, I am assuming you mean sure cure and binder as the sure gel is also a binder? Was it oily on the outside of the sausage? It sounds to me like your fat did not bind with your meat and then “fatted out” that can create an oily appearance and texture around the outside of the sausage. This could be from not mixing enough but as you used a binder I would think more likely the culprit is when the fat was added to the meat. Did you add it during the mixing process or during the grinding process?

    What was the temp of your deer when you were mixing it? What grinding plates did you use? Do you have a way to increase the moisture in your smoker?

  • Walton's Employee

    @dante322 Sorry, I responded to @vjbutler but I meant to respond to you. Also, I was not clear in my earlier message. If you did “fat out” the product very well might taste saltier than normal as you have lost all of that fat.

  • DANTE: Please see my thread (Summer Sausage Nightmare) from August in the Meat Processing section. Sounds like we had similar issues.
    One of the gurus on this forum suggested that I stop smoking after no more than 4 hours, as the longer time to get to an internal temp of 160 F is a “stall” (heat loss of the smoker and product (including water pan) is equal to heat in to the smoker) so the product sits at about 130 F and internal temp goes nowhere.) The solution is, after 3-4 hours in the smoker, transfer to a water bath at poaching temp (about 200 F). This brings internal temp of the Summer Sausage up to 160 F in about 20 min, not 5 or 6 hours, and helps prevent “fatting out” of the product. Product retains moisture, casings are nice and full, and remain smooth.
    Also suggested for my SS Nightmare: More complete mixing of the meat before stuffing into casings. I found that 8-9 min of mixing in a hand operated Waltons small meat mixer works well, giving a good sticky feel and appearance to the meat and provides for good protein extraction and fat/water binding in the meat (it becomes an emulsion) without total loss of texturing. I also found that grinding the lean meat (beef or venison) separate from the pork fat and adding the fat to the cold ground meat preserves some of the traditional texture of SS.
    Don’t give up on the Walton’s Excaliber seasonings–they offer some great stuff–but the techniques of getting to a good “family ready” final product may take some adjustments. One final comment, I found that adding Encapsulated Citric Acid (ECA) as is frequently recommended here at Walton’s for SS and snack sticks did not work for me. It gave a strongly acidic taste that made my SS inedable.
    Good luck. It’s truly frustrating to go to all the effort and expense of making a batch of Summer Sausage, only to end up tossing the whole batch. I’ve been there, too.

  • Yes… sure cure and sure gel binder. The venison and pork fat were both still partially frozen when I ground them. First through the large course plate, then again through the small plate. (Not sure of sizes, but these are the plates i normally use for summer sausage). I probably should have put the meat back in the freezer before seasoning but i was pressed for time. I mixed by hand for 14 or 15 minutes. I also think I might have added to much water. The video said 2 quarts for wild game 2 pints for fatty pork. I put in 1 quart and about another cup. I mixed until it got tacky and then mixed some more. The meat seemed soupy to me but the video said that would be ok.
    The shriveling occurred before I bumped the temp up. I was using a digital thermometer with a probe, when the temp stalled for a couple hours, I suspected the temp might be reading inaccurately so I opened the door to confirm with a dial thermometer. The digital was accurate but the sausage was already shriveling.
    Another thing that bothered me was the casings… these had perforations for some reason. I e never used perforated casings before and seemed like I was losing a pot of moisture through them. Did I have the wrong casings? The other fibrous casings in the catalog said you were supposed to poke them anyway.

  • Oh… I ground the pork fat and the venison at the same time. 2 chunks of venison, 1 chunk of pork, back and forth…

  • Walton's Employee

    @dante322 Okay, thank you for the information. The holes in the casings are designed to let pressure bleed out during the cooking process and it also helps it form tighter to the sausage, so you had the right type of casing. Your grinding sounds fine, mixing by hand to get proper protein extraction would take about that time on a larger batch. I’ve used 2 qt of water before to 25 lb of meat and yes, it does make it soupy but that should all come out during the cook cycle (it will extend that cook cycle though). Grinding the meat and fat together is correct.

    I looked back art your meat block and I’d say part of the issue is that you used almost 1/3rd fat. That is a lot of fat, it would have been very difficult to keep that all bound up. 20 lb of venison to 5 lb of pork fat is good enough. If you were using untrimmed butts than 16 lb of venison to 9 lb of the butt would be close to enough but when it is straight pork fat that is getting it up a little on the high side. This would explain why it took forever to cook as well as the fat rendering out of the meat would constantly be bringing down the surface temperature of your meat.

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