How To Make Homemade Snack Sticks


  • 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.


  • Regular Contributors

    @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.


  • Regular Contributors

    @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


  • Regular Contributors

    @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.


  • Regular Contributors

    @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!


  • Regular Contributors

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



  • Hey Austin,
    Sorry if this question has come up already and I missed it! I am very new to snack stick/sausage making so this may be a simple question. My question is can you use bacon grease/ pork fat drippings in venison recipes, specifically using it in sausages/snack sticks. My only concern would be the soft fat would liquify fast and make the texture of the sausage weird. Side note: if I can’t use it for sausages can I at least use the lard to bind burgers better? Or should I discard the tub of pork fat I’ve been collecting?
    Thanks,
    Nick


  • Walton's Employee

    @nbian1 At the end you say tub of pork fat, is that fat that has rendered and then solidified? I’ve never done that but there isn’t any huge reason why it wouldnt work, it is not as good as normal pork fat but it is better than nothing for sure! I dont see any issue with using it for either sausage or burgers. I’d probably use a binder in the sausage just to be safe though, but I use a binder any time I am making a cured product though.



  • @Jonathon Thanks for the response. To answer your question, yes. I have saved up a small Tupperware container full of rendered pork fat and bacon drippings, assuming i could use in recipes just as i would the normal pork fat that i would grind up. I will try doing 2 batches: 1 with ground fat and 1 with the rendered fat and see if any difference at all occurs. And i do use a binder, the sure gel binder i believe it is. Thanks again!



  • I can’t offer anything definitive about using rendered pork fat or Bacon drippings VS trimmed pork fat.
    But thinking about your tub, it contains cooked fat. Where the mixtures called for usually mean for raw pork fat for a mixture with meat, which gets cooked as a mixture.
    So if I was to want to substitute rendered grease for actual raw pork fat, I think you might get something less desirable in the end.

    But you could try some small batches, keep good notes on your trial runs about volumes of meat, fat, and rendered grease added, then process exactly the same. (ie: Smoke/cook as a batch to see what happens.)

    You are talking about venturing into new territory, so you would need to do the research and catalog your results.
    (Which like anything in cooking, is a general recipe. Then the success or failure has to do with a lot of other factors.)

    Me? I’m sticking with whole fats and shotgun estimates of fat content. People posting definitive volumes or weights tend to get a sharp stick from me. I’ve never bought a Pork Boston Butt that had exactly the same fat content as the others bought at the same time. Think about it… each one comes from a different animal. (Unless you actually raised the Porker.)
    So saying a piece of meat has 25% fat is subjective. It might actually be 22-28%

    Chewing on all that, I do love my eggs fried in bacon drippings. So I tend to keep a small mason jar of bacon grease on hand.


  • Power User

    @nbian1 In a somewhat related topic, if the rendered fat isn’t the ideal choice for your snack sticks it is an absolute game changer in regards to making tamales. The bacon fat makes for a smoother and creamier texture. Tamales would be excellent stuffed with any number of fresh sausage options. It can be a time consuming process but the reward is well worth it. They are excellent to freeze and reheat quickly in the microwave. We had tamale parties at work every year and then the employees had free meals and snacks for months. It was great! We used all sorts of wild game and everyone loved them.



  • @Joe-Hell
    Hey Joe, Does anybody know where I can get Tamale casings for my stuffer.
    And what the heck sized tube would I need???

    Got your leg… pullin it. 🙄


  • Power User

    @pauliedmondsjr lol…heck, just use a summer sausage casing and make the mother of all tamales! That actually might be a fantastic way to make polenta



  • 😎 👍



  • After you start smoking at 175F, how long does it take to get to 160F internal temp.?
    Thanks…


  • Power User

    @doug7777 That really depends on the size of the smoker, the amount and diameter of the product as well as the temperature outdoors. It could be an hour…it could be several.



  • @Joe-Hell I have a Master Built 40 smoker. After we started smoking at 175F, we smoked the sticks for another 6 hours and only got the internal temperature to 142F. Tried several thermometer, all were within a couple degrees


  • Power User

    @doug7777 I also have the MB40 and have had one hell of a time trying to get to temp in a reasonable amount of time. They are well insulated and always hold the desired temp within a few degrees so I’m not sure what the issue is. I have also used multiple thermometers and even an oven thermometer and it always checks out. There is enough humidity that it drips constantly down the front glass panel. My previous MB30’s were much faster. I could generally guess the time/temp off the top of my head and hit my marks within 20 minutes. Something is amiss with the 40.

    …I will often use an additional drip tray. According to the manual you should not be adding foil to any of the racks for a similar purpose as this may reduce proper airflow. Perhaps that is my issue?



  • @weatherbow21 I agree with Jonathon of several points. I have been making snack sticks and summer sausage for years and I have scrapped my fair share of batches. There is certainly a difference between wild game and beef or pork from the store. My advice on this, buy a 10lb “log” of 80/20 from Sam’s. This takes out the grinding and having to mix in the right amount of fat. I have made several successful batches this way. BE PATIENT! The more meat you have in the smoker, the longer it is going to take, however, you will find that your temps will fluctuate less. If you get impatient and crank up the heat, you increase your chances of “fatting out”. Been there, done that.
    You don’t have to put the entire batch in the smoker at one time as long as you are not using citric acid. Put in a few pounds, follow the temp settings in the recipe, and you will likely have good results in 4-5 hours max. I never set my smokers above 170, but I may try since I am seeing 175 a lot in the Walton’s recipes.
    For a binder, I always use soy protein, but the type of binder that you use is based on your preference. I never make a batch without it.
    I also document everything from start to finish. I find this helps me to remember not to leave ingredients out of my recipe. It sucks when you get done stuffing and then find your bag of cheese still sitting on the counter. ☹ I document my temp settings, time of day, internal temp, smoke on, smoke off, etc. and I do this with every batch I make. You can then record your results, flavor, texture, presentation. I often go back through my notes just skimming results to see what worked and what didn’t, especially if I am trying a new recipe. If you are fairly new to sausage making and you are not busting casings during the stuffing process, you might not be packing them tight enough. You definitely do not want to under stuff. You will get unsightly fat deposits between the meat and the casing. Don’t give up!



  • @doug7777 142 degrees is a stalling point where the fat starts to render. I used to get very impatient and start cranking up the heat to get the INT to go up. That usually results in burning all the fat out of the snack sticks. Be patient. The temp will eventually start to rise again. Once it does, it will continue to do so at a steady pace. I have had snack sticks in the smoker for 24 hours or better due to having 25lbs hanging at one time. I have also had 4-5 lbs at a time in the smoker only take 4-5 hours total.




Recent Posts

  • @txbigly
    I’d say 30-45 days still isn’t too long. I wouldn’t go much past 45 though.
    As long as it is still in the original vacuum packaging, and the packaging doesn’t start to expand (gas released from the meat), you should be fine wet aging for quite some time. When you open the package, you should notice pretty quickly if it sat too long and spoiled. The odor will be quite foul and noticeable. So, I’d shoot for the 30-45 day mark, and you should be good with that.

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    @Joe-Hell ROFLOL 🙂

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