processhead Been there, done that
excessive cooking times
I seem to be having excessively long smoking/cooking times when it comes to processing my snack sticks & starting to wonder what could be the issue.
my recipe is rather simple…mix an 80/20 batch of beef/pork, add 2.5 tsp #1, 2 bottles of soy vay very teriyaki &8-10 ounces finely cubed cheese, coated in corn starch (poor man’s high temperature cheese). stuff in (now)17mm casings & refrigerate overnight.
when smoking, I start at 120 for a couple hours, and then, every hour to hour and a half, bump it 10 degrees…only starting the smoke after the initial couple hours.
my issue is that everything I rewad says that it should be about a 5-6 hour process…currently, I’m looking at 14 hours & still only up to 140 with the smoker set at 170.
I don’t want to raise the temp much higher & render the fats, but I really can’t be spending 18 hours to get my sticks up to temp on a sunday evening before having to get up early on a monday for work…
any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
smokinJeffro besides your smoking/cooking schedule perhaps your smoker isnt well insulated keeping the heat evenly distributed. My schedule is as follows
Preheat oven to 100° then load smoker
Increase heat to 110-125° for 1 hour no smoke with both dampers wide open
After 1 hour increase temp to 140° with smoke, top damper close to 1/8 open and bottom damper close to 1/2 open for 2 hours
After those 2 hours increase temp to 155° continuing with smoke for 2 hours. Adding a pan of water at this point may be helpful.
After those 2 hours increase temp to 170° closing all dampers to reach internal meat temperature of 157°.
Ice bath for 20 minutes immediately after meat reaches 157°
twilliams if you add a water pan make sure you use hot water not cold when you add it to the smoker
smokinJeffro I would say that your smoking times are certainly excessive, 14 hours is too long to be expected to wait! There is no good reason for cured sausage, especially with how thin snack sticks are to take that long. I can’t identify exactly what your problem would be as your recipe is an unknown, this is one of the reasons we work with Excalibur seasonings as they have taken all of the guesswork out of the seasonings. We do suggest that you use an Excalibur seasoning, our process and our smoke schedules to get the best results, a good easy schedule can be found here . Obviously, you are free to do whatever you want but with the recipe being an unknown we wouldnt be able to point to one thing and say “ah ha that’s your problem!”
Now, a few things 120 for a few hours isn’t necessary and depending on what your dampers are set at it could be a part of the problem. if they are wide open and you are running a drying cycle it is possible that you are over drying the outside of your snack sticks and creating case hardening. This is where the outside of your meat becomes dry and hard and it will not pass heat efficiently into the center of the snack stick.
I’d also look at humidity in your smokehouse, the higher you get to 100% relative humidity (RH) the quicker your product will cook. Recently I have been using automotive sponges in my water pan to increase the surface area of the water, it has yielded drastic results, if you want to see more on that you can check out Cured Sausage: 205 Advanced Thermal Processing.
You might also want to put an ambient temp thermometer in the middle of your smoker to make sure you really are at 170°.
Hope that helped!
smokinJeffro It isn’t by chance a Masterbuilt smoker? I had crazy long sessions with my masterbuilt 40 initially. Over and over again it would take 12+ hours to finish things that should have been nearly half of that. I chalked it up to winter temps even as the weather improved I still had the issues. Masterbuilt swapped out the controller and it still struggled to reach temp. The concluded that it was the internal thermometer so they sent me a brand new cabinet entirely.
The ‘new’ smoker seems to function normally and the old cabinet is now a raised bed planter for a salsa garden!
Joe Hell I have a MasterBuilt 40 as well. It seems to take longer than it should. But nothing like they are talking about. It might be your smoking curve. I have to go up to 205 to finish it… Any higher it can drop the water and give you dry sticks. I wish it would work better. I wish I could invest in a new smoker just for sticks.
Dave R I have always had good luck with my masterbuilt 30 models…although I killed 3 of them. lol. I wish I would have looked into warranty on the others. At least I have a few extra that I can also turn into planters.
I ran the 40 with 3 racks of ribs last weekend using the 3-2-1 method and they came out great although while I ran to the store it shut off on me. I haven’t figured that one out yet. Perhaps it was a brief power outage. We’ve had a bunch of that in my area lately.
Joe Hell I don’t know what the 30 models insulation is like, would someone be able to turn into a dry curing chamber I wonder?
Jonathon all of the Masterbuilt smokers are very well insulated. The first ones I had were essentially a mini fridge shell with a heating element. It should be fairly easy to use one for that purpose I’d imagine. A light bulb might be ample heat
Joe Hell I burnt out a 30 as well. MasterBuilt just came out with a slow smoker attachment that attaches to the chip drawer. It works very well and increases the volume of smoke. It makes a great cold smoker out of the old 30.
Dave R I have the cold smoker attachment and use it exclusively these days rather than the chip tray. It was s gave changer to say the least. Yesterday I made some smoked trout that turned out amazing!