Wild Game Venison Snack Sticks
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
What Is A Snack Sticks?
Snack Sticks are a meat snack and semi-dried sausage that is stuffed into a smoked collagen casing and then hung in a smokehouse for cooking. Many Snack Stick will have a pH between 4.5 and 5.2 to give it some shelf stability and the classic tangy flavor
10 lb of Venison
2.5 lb of pork straight pork fat or 10 lb of untrimmed pork butts
1 Bag of Taco Snack Sticks 10.75 oz for 12.5 lb
1 oz of Sure Cure (Included with purchase) 14.1 grams for 12.5 lb
Water (2 lb per 25 lb batch of meat) 16 oz of water for a 12.5 lb batch
1 Bag of Sure Gel 3 oz for 12.5 lb
Encapsulated Citric Acid 2 oz for 12.5 lb
Weston #12 Butcher Series Grinder
Weston 44 lb Meat Mixer
Walton’s 11 lb Sausage Stuffer
We are using 19mm Smoke Collagen Casings which will fit easily over our 12mm stuffing tube. These casings require no preparation, simply take them out of the package and put them on the stuffing tube.
This meat was already ground once through a 3/8 plate and frozen. We defrosted it and ground it again through a 1/8 plate. The fact that it was still partially frozen sped up the 2nd ground significantly. What would normally be a process of 10 minutes was finished in under 3.
Pork Fat -
If you are adding just pork fat to your meat block you should add somewhere between 20-25% of the weight of your venison meat in fat. In this case that meant we added 2.5 lb and we added that while we were grinding, this allows it to start mixing in with the venison as it grinds. We also made sure the pork was almost frozen to help it grind faster and better.
Pork Butts -
If you are adding pork butts make sure that they are untrimmed, meaning that they have a good fat cap on them and that the skin is removed off of the pork butt. You will be able to tell if the skin is still on by looking for small hair follicles if you see that then the skin is still on and you will need to trim that off while leaving as much fat as possible on the meat.
Next, you need to mix the seasoning and cure into your meat. To do this you can either use a meat mixer or do it by hand. Because this is a product that we are going to cure and smoke we need to achieve a high level of protein extraction so doing this with your hands is difficult but can be done. When using a mixer add the meat to the mixer, then the seasoning and cure and finally the water, you will want to mix in both directions until all seasoning and cure have been mixed in and you have good protein extraction. You will know that a good level of protein extraction has been achieved when the meat is sticky and tacky if you can pull a handful of it apart and it stretches that is a good sign.
Next, choose the largest stuffing tube that your casings will fit over and begin stuffing. Stuff until the casings are full and smooth but leave yourself enough room on the end to close with a hog ring.
If you can just faintly see a swirl pattern running down the casing that means you have stuffed them correctly if that pattern is obvious then they are understuffed which will lead to excessively wrinkled casings and an odd texture.
If you cannot see that pattern at all then you have overstuffed the casings and you run a risk of the casings popping when you hang them in the smokehouse.
If you added Encapsulated Citric Acid or other cure accelerators you need to go directly from stuffing to smoking. If you did not use a cure accelerator of some sort then after you’ve stuffed everything the product has to be held in the refrigerator overnight to allow the cure time to work.
Thermal Processing & Smoking
Set up your smoker and hang your sausage on smoke sticks or lay on racks and smoke at
125F for 1 hour
140F for 1 hour
155F for 2 hours
175F until internal meat temp of 160F
When they have reached 160° internal temperature remove from the smoker and put them in an ice bath to bring the heat down and help set the casing.
A water bath is not sufficient for this, the water needs to be ice water or shower them with a fan pointed at the hanging sticks.
Lastly, leave them out at room temperature for about an hour before vacuum packing them, this will ensure you don’t get additional moisture in the vacuum bag which would affect the shelf life of your meats.
Adding pork fat instead of pork butts will give them a more distinct taste and color. The intensity of the difference will depend on the protein you are using, deer works well with pork fat so the 50/50 mix of venison and untrimmed pork butts will work well but with something like goose you really want to find straight pork fat.
Depending on your pH and your Water Activity your sticks might be shelf-stable but without a way to test this you should vacuum pack and refrigerate these and since these are wild game they wouldn’t be considered “shelf-stable” technically.
Watch WaltonsTV: Wild Game - Venison Snack Sticks