How To Make Homemade Snack Sticks



  • @jonathon So this may seem like a really dumb question, but how do you hang the meat in the smoker. I assume I just loop over the smoke stick and then make one big continuous loop across the stick alternating up across and down from side to side over the smoke stick until I get it all on there? I assume if I cut prior to cooking my 30% fat to meat ratio would mean it would heat up to melt the pork fat and I would have meat running out of casings to the bottom of my smoker.


  • Walton's Employee

    @sierrapete Those aren’t stupid questions at all, very good questions that I would bet a lot of people have! You are correct on how to hang them, keep looping them over smoke sticks until either it is full or you have gotten them all in there.

    As for the fat melting out yes, this is definitely a concern. You can prevent this from happening by getting a good bind between your water, meat and fat by getting the correct amount of protein extraction and using a binder. We did a video about “fatting out” and protein extraction that should help you with this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wStH-RtQUY8 . Let me know if you have any other questions!



  • Can I make snack sticks with just using ground beef with out adding any pork.
    Without adding pork should I add Soy Protein as a binder.

    We butchered two cows and made all the meat into hamburger and trying to make a lot of beef sticks.

    Any suggestions are appreciated.


  • Walton's Employee

    @icepro Yes you can absolutely make snack sticks out of 100% ground beef, lots of people do this with great results. The question on adding a binder is going to depend on the fat content of the ground beef you are using and since it sounds like you ground it yourself since you butchered the cows (good job by the way, doesn’t get any fresher/cleaner than that!) you might not know the fat content? If you do and it is less than 20% fat then yes I would add a binder but I would probably add Carrot Fiber instead, it’s about the same price, holds 26 times its weight in water, allergen free and does a better job in my mind.

    Let us know if you need anything else!



  • @jonathon Thanks for the impute, I will use the Soy Protein as binder for now since I do not have the Carrot Fiber at this time (will need to order) and I have 50# of ground beef thawing out for tomorrow.

    How do you determine the fat content on meat when processing your self?

    Thanks


  • Walton's Employee

    @icepro Sounds good, there is nothing wrong with Soy Protein Blend, it should work just fine for you. For how to tell fat content at home there really isn’t a way, it requires specialized equipment. Hope the sticks come out good!



  • I made my first batch of snack sticks yesterday. I used citric acid. I was not able to fit every thing in my smoker and part of the batch had to sit in the fridge overnight. Can I still use them or do I need to trash them.
    Thanks


  • Walton's Employee

    @mesbilawson Great question, you do not need to trash them at all. Depending on the temperature they have been held at and a few other factors you might get some crumbly edges after smoking them but there is no danger to smoking and eating them and the taste should still be fine!



  • @jonathon Thank you so much. We are very excited to make more snack sticks. We ordered more supplies today!


  • Walton's Employee

    @mesbilawson That’s awesome, hope your next batch is as good as the first!



  • Are the snack sticks made as described “shelf stable”, or do they have to be refrigerated or frozen?


  • Walton's Employee

    @jcflorida they need to be refrigerated unless you have a way to measure water activity and the pH of your meat. They might be “shelf stable” but without a way to test them it is not worth the danger of spoilage


  • Regular Contributors

    @weatherbow21

    I had similar complaints trying to get my summer sausage correct. It was “de-fatting” with loose casing, dry, and a terrible texture, although the product tasted pretty good. Jonathan and Austin walked me through the process, but for me the key issue was mixing the meat long enough to get good protein extraction. I bought one of the Walton’s 20 lb. mixers and it works great–easy to turn and reverse; does a great job and was surprisingly well built at the price. It made a huge difference in my summer sausage–came out looking as good as it tastes, moist, and with a great mouth feel.
    Try mixing for 8-9 minutes with a meat mixer or twice as long if mixing by hand. When you get the right mix, it emulsifies the water and fat to the meat protein so that the final product stays plump and moist. Smoke your product for 3-4 hours and finish in a water bath poaching to bring it up to 160F internal temp. Chill in an ice water bath when done.
    Good Luck
    Greg



  • I am getting ready to make a batch of snack sticks and I noticed that you recommend using pork fat with venison. I have always used beef fat in the past and was wondering why you recommend using pork fat. Also, do you soak your collagen casings in water prior to stuffing? Or do you use them just as they are? Thanks


  • Walton's Employee

    @hharris We recommend pork fat because it has a creaminess to it that other animals fats really don’t match. For example I can cleary tell the difference in texture and taste when I am making pork brats or snack sticks vs when I have used beef. Part of the taste difference is in how the fat coats your mouth it allows it to linger longer. Also, when you are making a product that you would want particle definition on (salami, pepperoni and some bolonga) the back fat from a hog is nice and firm and displays really nicely. Now, some people object to pork for either health or religious reasons so adding beef fat can and very often is substituted!

    Don’t rinse, or soak your collagen just take it right out of the package, load it onto your stuffing horn and you are good to go!

    Let us know if you have any other questions!



  • @jonathon Thank you for your quick and detailed response. It is greatly appreciated. Just another reason why Walton’s is the best. For some reason, I thought that you needed to soak the collagen before loading it on the stuffing horn. Thanks for the correction there.



  • @jonathon If I was going to be short of 25#'s of vension/pork fat, could I get a pork butt or roast and use that until I got my 25#'s of total ground product?


  • Walton's Employee

    @hharris Yes, you could use pork butts for sure to make up the difference as long as you stay in the 20-30 fat percentage. When doing deer a lot of people do 50/50 deer to pork trimmings or pork butts. It can be a little easier this way and you get more out of your deer!



  • @jonathon Sounds great. Thank you!



  • @jonathon Iam trying to make a snack stick or slightly larger “stick” using moose meat and pork meat. I was using 75-25% moose ratio . I want to add pork fat, what would be a good ratio? Would like to use a collagen casing and would like to get the wrinkle look like the ones you buy, can you get this with collagen casings? I recently bought some German salami that had the wrinkle look and it was a drier/ harder type than you usually see so would like to get it like that plus it was delicious.


  • Walton's Employee

    @revid So the moose is already 75-25 fat to lean? If that is the case you don’t want to add much more pork fat. Generally maybe 5-10% at the most BUT since you want that wrinkled look then a slightly higher fat content might be a good thing. You could do a few things, cook it at a higher temp towards the end, dont put it in an ice bath right away or toss it in a dehydrator after cooking for an hour or so? Just some ideas, I’d be happy to see if anyone had any other ones?



  • @jonathon thanks but for response. The moose I use is very lean. I make 10# batches using 7 lbs moose,3 # pork and 2# pork fat. Only new to this so that’s what I tried so far. Used smaller collagen casings 19mm but would like to try a little bigger. Just used spices and Prague powder but read people are using other things in addition which I can’t remeber now lol. I can’t get that wrinkle look so wondering and thinking Iam not doing something right.


  • Walton's Employee

    @revid Most people want a fairly smooth casing with maybe some wrinkling, so I would say you ARE doing something right even if you aren’t trying to do it! I would always recommend you go with a prepackaged seasoning and sure cure (same thing as prague powder) and with snack sticks I like to use a binder like Super Bind or Carrot Fiber. If you really want a wrinkle appearance though I would probably up your water content and NOT use a binder and then cook it at something around 190° during your last stage. If that doesn’t work then toss them in the dehydrator for a few hours as I said.

    Your fat content is probably pretty close to spot on! If you have any pics of the moose you get then I am sure the Bragging Board section would love to see them!



  • @jonathon thanks bud for the info. How much water and binder would you recommend to use for the batch I stated? Is there any different between the two you suggested? Iam using a Bradley smoker and finding it hard to get up to that temp . I usually smoke for an hour then just heat.



  • @sierrapete What I do is resist the temptation to make the longest snack stick possible. I know its difficult to gauge the amount of casing you slide on the stuffing tube, but I try to go about half way. That way I have 2 -3 feet of snack stick not 4 or 5 feet.

    I let those long snack sticks “rest” for about a day and right before I use them, I use a sharp knife and cut them to size then put them in the smoker or oven - providing you have trays to place them on …


  • Walton's Employee

    @revid Super Bind is a combination of Carrot Fiber and Potato Starch, so you get water holding capacity from Carrot Fiber and the Potato Starch Gels at right about the same temperature that meat starts to really expel water, so it is able to absorb it. Super Bind is a little more expensive but is generally worth it in my mind, especially when using some wild game that you worked so hard to get. Carrot Fiber is a binder that holds 26 times its weight in water so it is very helpful in yield enhancement and giving you a juicier finished product.

    If you are using 7 lb of Moose, 2lb pork fat and 3 lb of the regular pork I would use about 14-16 oz of water and 5 oz of Super Bind or 2 oz of Carrot Fiber.



  • @jonathon thanks bud going to order some of that super bind now! Now anyone have a fav seasoning mix for game???



  • @revid You can’t go wrong with the Willie’s, my family and I love it.



  • @austin
    I tried making snack sticks for the second time. This time I added citric acid for some tang. The mix never got sticky and when I stuffed the casing it was not smooth and the water seperated and ran out on the counter top. The meat was like little seperated lumps in the casings. After cooking, they tasted good, but the texture was like compressed saw dust.



  • @mcmillenbr Need some more details. 5 pound batch? How much water are you using? I have never had water run out.



  • @mcmillenbr I made sticks for the first time yesterday and smoked them today. I used a kit from LEM only because I got it on clearance for 5 bucks. Anyway, it is really salty but they looked good. I didn’t add any water to the batch, I did put a little worshteshire sauce but that’s it with the seasoning. I water bathed them at 155 then rehang them for about 4 hours to sweat and dry. Cut them up and vacuum sealed.
    0_1550976636480_20190222_181323.jpg
    0_1550976653345_20190223_070331.jpg
    0_1550976673326_20190223_132010.jpg
    0_1550976711400_20190223_134753.jpg



  • @lost-river-jones
    I was making a test batch of 1 lb. I used 1/4 C. ice water.
    The cure I used was from Hi-Mountain snack stick kit, 2t. and 1 1/2 t. Citric acid. Besides different seasonings from last time the only difference was adding the citric acid for the tang.



  • @mcmillenbr 1/4 cup of water or roughly 2 ounces isn’t out of the question for one pound. With a one pound batch you might consider adding 1/3 ounce or roughly 10 grams of dried milk to hold the water better.


  • Admin

    @mcmillenbr @deplorablenc1
    Sounds like one of the problems is not using supplies/seasoning from Walton’s!

    Seasoning really does make a difference in your product. I’d encourage you to try the Excalibur Seasoning at waltonsinc.com. The quality is unmatched. Also try adding a meat binder like Excalibur’s Sure Gel as well.
    Sticky meat is from protein extraction, which requires protein, salt, and an adequate mixing process.
    Inadequate salt content could be partially to blame. Salt is very important in making sausage, especially for protein extraction (another reason I’d use Excalibur Seasoning over over brands because a good seasoning plays an important role).
    Mixing time and process is also probably a large portion of your problem.
    It is very hard to get an adequate mix by hand mixing, especially on a 1 lb test batch. Using your hands is hard, compared to the mechanical action of a meat mixer, plus with your hands and just 1 lb of meat, you are going to raise the meat temperature very quickly and as the temperature raises, you will hit a point that protein extraction gets extremely difficult.

    To get the best end product, I’d switch to using an Excalibur Seasoning, add a meat binder like Sure Gel, and follow the rest of our process in the original post at the top of the page here, use a meat mixer, etc. If you follow the guidelines and use the products from Walton’s, that is the best way to make the best end product and avoid problems.



  • @austin in my defense I just found the Waltons site and ordered a catalog. I will definitely be placing an order and trying out the products from you guys as soon as I window shop from the catalog. On my list first is high temp cheese, that is actually how I found this.



  • @austin
    I actually just found this site while tryimg to figure out what went wrong. I ordered a couple things this morning.


  • Admin

    @mcmillenbr @deplorablenc1
    I don’t want to pound you guys too hard! But, I do strongly believe you will get better results with our products and following our recipes, than you would with some of the other brands out there.
    Glad to hear you’ve ordered, or will be!
    If you ever need more help, definitely let us know, or post a new topic in the Community section, and you’ll get a ton of great input from both Walton’s and our other customers on the site!



  • @mcmillenbr I’m in the same boat! Just discovered this awesome site digging for info. Wish I had seen this a few days ago. Made sticks today and I think (from what I’ve learned here) I’m having a protien extraction problem. Seem to have moisture under my casing.



  • @AdamCA Willie’s??? Where can I get that?


  • Walton's Employee

    @revid It is our most Popular Snack Stick Seasoning and you can find it here (https://www.waltonsinc.com/willies-snack-stick-seasoning) for 25 lb or 100 lb batches.



  • @Jonathon would love to order casings and blends but the shipping to get here is brutal!!! Just tried to order a blend and few things$30 order$56.00 shipping!!!



  • @Austin
    Is there a way to make snack sticks on dehydrator.
    Thanks Rich



  • @Austin The first time attempting making a snack stick the taste was ok, but I like that tang of Slim Jims. Well after some research I found that I needed citric acid forthat tang. Well, being new at this I went to the grocery store and picked up some citric acid. Big mistake, it was not encapsulated, thats why the meat immediately started clumping.



  • @Austin you guys talk a lot mixing and the inability to get good protein extraction from hand mixing. A few of us make sticks in 5 pound batches - I am guessing its a function of the size of the stuffer. Anyway, all the mixers look to be 20 pound mixers. Are those any good with only 5 pounds of meat? Or does the meat get lost in the mixer because there is not enough? What mixer do you recommend for a 5 pound batch? Finally, what does a properly mixed batch look like? Thanks.

    I’ve really made great strides in stack stick making because of hanging out here.


  • Power User

    @Lost-River-Jones I think the 20 lb mixer would be a bit large for that amount. Earlier today I used my kitchenaid bowl mixer with the paddle attachment and did roughly 5 lbs… It worked very well. Jonathon and Austin have posted several good videos that explain the texture you should be looking for. The video below has a description at about the 2:00 minute mark

    https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/763/cured-sausage-106-basics-of-making-snack-sticks


  • Admin

    @fourgonefishn I personally would not do snack sticks on a dehydrator. That doesn’t mean it cannot be done, but I think you will end up with a much better product by using a smoker. If you don’t have a smoker, then I’d use an oven, and dehydrator would be my last choice. A dehydrator just doesn’t have a high enough temperature to completely cook meat snacks. You could start some of the lower temps of the cook cycle with a dehydrator, but finishing in a smoker or oven would be ideal.


  • Admin

    @Lost-River-Jones I would do as @Joe-Hell is saying, and use a kitchenaid or planetary mixer for a batch of 5 lb or less. I don’t know of an actual meat mixer than will adequately mix only 5 lb at a time. I have used planetary mixers before though, and they work well.
    The look of a properly mixed batch is hard to describe. The feel is easier. It should be extremely sticky, and at the point where it will stretch if you grab a handful and pull it apart. It will also stick so much to your hands/gloves that it is hard to get completely off after picking it up.



  • I’m Mr. Smallbatch. I mostly make things for me.
    So in reality, 5 pounds is a big batch for me.
    I am a pig, so I do gobble it up. But 5 lbs. is a big amount for an old guy who mostly eats it myself.
    So… I use the wife’s KitchenAid, make 1-5 pound batches, stuff with a 5 pound stuffer.
    So I only use the stand mixer as my grinder/mixer.
    I like Willie’s Snack Sticks Mix, but also like home mixed ingredients, and Hot Italian Sausage Mix for snack sticks.
    But the underlying theme for me is I do smaller batches. So I cannot justify to myself having the mass quantity type of equipment for my piddly needs.
    Being retired, I tend to have more time than money or volume needs. 😜


  • Walton's Employee

    @mcmillenbr The acid will denature the proteins as you are extracting them from the meat, it is actually pretty interesting to watch happen. I’m sorry it happened to you but it is a good lesson to learn early on! Remember to add the Encapsulated Citric Acid during the last 60 seconds of mixing and to keep it above 130° for at least 1 hour. That second part isnt usually a problem as it almost always takes over an hour to get from 130-160.


  • Walton's Employee

    @Lost-River-Jones Yes, that is exactly what happens, the meat isnt enough to let the paddles be effective. Like @Joe-Hell says we do have a few videos that should show you what protein extraction looks like. It can be done with hand in small batches, I do it fairly often when I am making test batches but it takes a while and I HATE how cold it makes my hands. A good tip I got from someone, and I wish I remembered who it was, was to put the String Knit Gloves under oversized nitrile gloves and that has made a huge difference for me. Just a tip!


  • Walton's Employee

    @pauliedmondsjr Im not sure if you saw our Live Stream on February 28th or not but we did have someone recommend using the kitchen aid mixer. Austin and I quickly discussed it and there is no reason it should not work. However, be careful as someone else sent in a chat saying they broke their wife’s kitchen aid doing this! Not sure how they did that but just something to be aware of!



  • @Jonathon
    Hi Jonathon!
    Yes, it is entirely possible to blow up a mixers gearbox. A friend of mine did that when he added ice to meat he was grinding.
    Destroyed the gearbox of his wife’s mixer. 😱
    I tend to err towards the other side, and I’m very careful to not over tax the KitchenToy mixer. I run it at the lowest to lower speeds.
    Still learning, (always learning) I’m not in a hurry, but so far the mixer has worked great for my micro brew batches. 😁
    And the wife has been cool about it. She actually suggested I look into a grinder attachment for it. I found a stainless steel aftermarket I liked and got that.
    I’m always mindful to avoid forcing it.
    A Friend of mine once told me, “A Poor Man has Poor ways. But they can work.”
    I did catch some of your live stream, but unfortunately, it was moving to slow for me to stick around. Hint, hint…


  • Power User

    @Jonathon My mixer fears no meat! I actually have the Kenmore stand mixer which is a higher wattage cousin of the kitchenaid (but less expensive!) that uses all of the same attachments. I just refer to it as a kitchenaid so people know what I’m talking about. The meat was no where near as stiff as a batch of bagel dough…which sometimes causes my bowl to dismount from the mixer as it kneads. lol.

    kenmore.jpg



  • @Joe-Hell that works!! ! This pic has 10lbs in a 20lb mixer. I never tried going down to 5 but I think if I did I would use your method with my wife’s mixer!

    20190222_181323.jpg


  • Power User

    @deplorablenc1 The 20 lb mixer does great with a load of 10-12 lbs! My only regret with my 5 lb batch of snack sticks is that I only made 5 lbs. The product turned out so well that I can barely stop eating them.



  • @Joe-Hell I am going to make a 25# batch next weekend as I got the notification my Waltons order shipped!!!
    I was going to post the fun from this weekend and recipe making pickled venison heart but for some reason the site doesnt give me the option to post anymore.


  • Power User

    @deplorablenc1 I noticed that I can’t start a new topic either. I’m sure Austin and Jonathon are working on it.


  • Admin

    @Joe-Hell @deplorablenc1
    Sorry guys… Something went wrong and I never noticed until now. Looks like the create topic permission was dropped somehow. Things are back, and you can create new topics in the Community section again!


  • Power User

    @Austin Thank you sir!



  • @Austin thank you! I like this board! I wasn’t sure if I was getting kicked out like on Twitter…haha




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