What have I done wrong?



  • I cooked a 5 pound batch of snack sticks yesterday and they look and taste good but there is no snap to casing and they are very chewy and rubbery. I followed the recipe listed on the seasoning jar and also added some ECA prior to stuffing and smoking. I weighed the seasoning to 4 ounces and then changed the scale to grams and weighed the ECA to 16.9 grams.
    During the cook i ramped up the temps from 100 to 170 over the course of 7 hours until they were measuring 155 on my inkbird thermometer.
    IMG_4915.jpg
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  • Power User

    did you ice water bath them after cooking to stop the cooking process


  • Team Blue Power User Traeger Primo Grills PK Grills

    Well the first problem is you didn’t get your seasoning from Walton’s!


  • Masterbuilt

    Are they natural or collagen casings? Collagen have a tendency to be chewy no matter what you do. At least that’s been my experience.



  • I had this happen once, I attributed it to using some collagen casings that were almost a year old.



  • craigrice said in What have I done wrong?:

    did you ice water bath them after cooking to stop the cooking process
    I did Ice bath them for 10 or 15 minutes.

    Tex_77 said in What have I done wrong?:

    Well the first problem is you didn’t get your seasoning from Walton’s!

    Lol, you are probably right. Still have not found a good snack stick recipe or blend. Would love to have one similar to jack links flavor.

    knifemaker3 said in What have I done wrong?:

    Are they natural or collagen casings? Collagen have a tendency to be chewy no matter what you do. At least that’s been my experience.

    These were collagen casings. The last of a bag I have been using that were fresh to me. meaning i bought them less than 30 days ago and have made 4 or 5 other 5# batches.

    clubchuck said in What have I done wrong?:

    I had this happen once, I attributed it to using some collagen casings that were almost a year old.

    I would question the casing but have made other batches recently out of the same bag of casings and have not had this issue.



  • Can you mix a batch that contains Sodium erythorbate and let it sit overnight in the fridge without ill affects? Does Sodium Erythorbate react to ECA? Can you over mix your batch and cause issues such as this.
    I honestly believe it is a chemical reaction or something. I filleted the casing off of a stick and the meat alone still has a rubbery feel and texture. I am so confused! haha!


  • Team Blue

    39Buick You dont need Sodium Erythorbate and ECA in the same batch. I dont think that would hurt anything though. With sodium erythorbate i think if the product is stuffed into casings you should be ok holding overnight to smoke. With ECA i have had a few ruined batches due to holding. The encapsulation can and most times will break if holding usually turning the product to mush. In the future i would use one or the other. Sodium erythorbate as a cure accelerator or ECA as a cure accelerator that will also lower the PH giving some tang.
    Back to the original Issue, I have seen over mixing give the issues you describe. I would be inclined to lean towards that first.


  • Team Blue

    39Buick I see now the Erythorbate was in your mix. I really dont think running the 2 together will hurt anything but holding to smoke with ECA in it is very risky! Not make you sick Risky just poor product risky.


  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee

    39Buick Like Tex_77 Said we obviously recommend Walton’s Seasoning for a few reasons. First, it is what we are most familiar and comfortable with, we can’t really offer much support when someone uses other seasonings as we aren’t privy to any information on those seasonings. Also, I know a lot of people have asked us to make these 5 lb batches seasonings but there are more issues than just pricing at play with that. But the most important reason we recommend Excalibur Seasonings is that it is the excact same thing that the professional processors like Cabelas90 use. When he orders the pepperoni unit from us we send him the exact same thing we send to someone who is making it in their garage. I’m not trying to insult the company you bought that from but it doesn’t stand to reason that they’d send that to a commercial processor. Okay, that’s my shpiel!

    Now, I’ll address everything I can here from yours and others comments:
    Ice bath of 10-15 is perfect as long as it was an actual ice bath not just cold water.
    Have you tried Willies? I’m not a huge fan of jacks sticks, I love their tender jerky but don’t like the sticks for some reason. Anyone Parksider PapaSop Departing Contestant deplorablenc1 Tex_77 craigrice anyone else have an idea of what seasoning might give the closest result to a jacks link?
    If they were only a few months old and we stored properly between uses (cool, dark place) and were vac sealed that shouldn’t be any issue
    -The fact you stepped it up from 100-170 is pretty perfect, can you give me a little more detail on this? Specifically what was the first 1-2 hours like, how were the dampers set, did you have a water pan on the smoker during that time and so forth. From a look I am guessing part of your issue might have been that you didn’t run enough of a drying cycle to start.
    -How were they handled after the ice bath? Did you let them sit out at room temperature for at least an hour and then hold them overnight in a cooler/fridge before vac packing? If you did leave them out how was the air flow in that location? I ask because the most recent batch I made I put a fan in front of them and meant to turn it off after 10 minutes but left it on them for about 2 hours! When I took a bite of one it had the most snap of any snack stick I have ever made but then after storing them in the cooler overnight they had absolutely zero snap. These are the sticks that I made for our most recent livestream so whoever tries them will be able to attest to this. It could be a similar thing to what you are having.
    -Also, it’s possible that you overmixed, like Cabelas90 says it does happen but it is really rare to happen at home.
    -As for ECA and Sodium Erythorbate in the same mix it can be done but not something we would necessarily recommend.
    -I can’t figure out if you held it overnight or not? if you did and the encapsulation of your ECA ruptured then it had all night to start denaturing those proteins so your fat would have rendered out and when that happens the collagen casing is sort of basted in the fat and it will feel rubbery like you are explaining. How was the fat content of the finished stick, did they seem dry? Was there a bunch of fat on the floor of your smoker?

    And then there is, of course, the possibility that you didn’t do anything wrong and the sausage gods just decided to give you a hard time! Also, could have been the meat you used might have had some deficiency in it, lack of fat or poor quality? Let us know about your meat block as much as you can!



  • Cabelas90 said in What have I done wrong?:

    39Buick I see now the Erythorbate was in your mix. I really dont think running the 2 together will hurt anything but holding to smoke with ECA in it is very risky! Not make you sick Risky just poor product risky.

    I mixed my meat and seasoning blend for nearly 30 minutes by hand. took a bit longer than 30 minutes because my hands were hurting from the cold. I had a good sticky blend and looked to have a good protein extraction. I then refrigerated the mix until the next morning. Next morning, added the ECA and gave it a gentle mix for maybe 5 to 10 minutes. Loaded the stuffer and filled 19mm collagen casing. At that point I started the cooking process.
    Also once I had loaded the smoker and clean my mess up, I fried up the bit of meat from the bottom of the stuffer elbow and tube and noticed the texture issue in the sample. The patty itself felt dense and rubbery!
    Perhaps its a bad batch of seasoning or something.


  • Team Blue

    39Buick How hard did you have to crank on that stuffer handle?! Ill be honest ive never mixed a batch by hand so props for that!
    I really think the issue lies in the over night hold along with remixing in the morning. Your test show that the issue was present before cooking so that can be ruled out.
    I cant speak for the seasoning as ive never used it but i dont see anything in it that should cause a problem.
    If you have a kitchen aid mixer 5lbs fits perfect in those and it only takes a few minutes to mix.
    Also with sodium erythorbate and ECA both do not need to be held over night to cook the next day. It always seems when we make cured Products with either of those Ingredients and they sit instead of strait to cooking we get a sub pair product.
    What did you do different in this batch vs the other 4-5 batches as i assume they turned out ok?



  • Jonathon Thanks for your opinions and knowledge helping a knucklehead like me out.
    I have not tried Willies or any Excalibur seasoning blends yet! I have been buying snack stick and summer sausage from the Gentleman that I have used for years that processed my Venison. Unfortunately he retired and has closed up his shop! I tried to obtain his recipes but he wasn’t wanting to share that info!
    My Ice bath was indeed an Ice bath. Once i removed them from the bath, they sat on the countertop on cooling racks. Once they were dry to the touch for the most part I cut them to length and put them into brown paper sacks in the fridge for 2 days. Vac packed and frozen at that point.
    My cooking process started around 95 to 100 degrees for nearly 2 hours until the sticks felt dry to the touch. At that point the temp was bumped up to 120-130 and added smoke to the cook for 2 hours, 150 and smoke for an hour and then to 170 until they hit 155 IT. I did not have any water in the drip pan and the vents on my smoker were wide open the entire cook.
    In my response to Cabelas90 above I stated that the meat and seasoning were mixed and refrigerated. ECA was added the next day prior to stuffing.
    Very little fat rendered out during the cook. The finish stick appears to have a good bit of fat in it. If you squeeze and roll a piece between your fingers the fat is still there. I would not say these were dry at all. My picture above shows a cut piece and if you expand the photo it shows pretty well.
    I used 3 pounds of Venison burger roughly 90/10 and 2 pounds of ground chuck at 80/20 for this batch.
    Again I appreciate all your help as well as the others here.



  • Cabelas90 said in What have I done wrong?:

    What did you do different in this batch vs the other 4-5 batches as i assume they turned out ok?

    The 5 batches I have made were ok but not the flavor profile I am after. This was the first time I have tried this brand and Blend. Other than the seasoning I added the ECA trying to get a little tangy flavor.


  • Team Blue

    39Buick Did they have the same Texture issue? Was the Process the same? I should have been more specific when i asked that. But what im getting at is seasonings generally would not cause a rubber texture that generally would fall into a process issue. Something like a Mushy Stick or Fatted out Stick would could be attributed to the ECA breaking and denaturing the proteins or meat being to warm ect.



  • Cabelas90 I understand what your saying. Texture wise this batch is the 1st with this issue. I generally mix and season then into the fridge. Next morning, add ECA stuff and into the smoker. Process wise the only changes were the meat and the seasoning.
    I used 3 pounds of venison burger approx 90/10 and 2 pounds of ground chuck 80/20. Previous batches were all ground chuck 80/20. Could my mince have been to lean?


  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee

    39Buick This is going to be one of those ones where its something tiny that we arent hitting on cause all your responses sound spot on, the only thing I can see now that MIGHT be an issue would be 2 days in the cooler. If your fridge had a higher than normal humidity or something the casings might have soaked back up some moisture like they did with mine the other day. I had a similar texture issue with mine though they weren’t separating!

    When you get around to trying it again I’d recommend Willies, its our best selling snack stick seasoning for a good reason. And when you do, I suggest you go to the end of our most recent livestream for a coupon Austin made (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfwCGwiBFaQ)

    And yeah, we would recommend you go to at least 80/20 with 75/25 probably being better but I don’t think that it being too lean would have caused the issue you are showing but maybe Cabelas90 has a different thought on that?


  • Team Blue

    Jonathon 39Buick 80-20 and 75-25 is definitely going to give you a better Stick Provided you have the seasonings there to tie up the moisture. Which i dont think with willies is going to be a problem. I think your going to get a lot closer to that jack links style with the willies. I would keep the ECA but i would definitely not hold it over night Id grind, mix stuff and cook all at once.
    This is definitely one that has me scratching my head as far as the texture goes.


  • Team Blue PK100 Power User

    39Buick By the look of them I’d say the mix is too lean and you didn’t stuff them tight enough. I swear this is the last time I’m saying this, try getting the smoke profile then into 170F water to finish. Seven hours seems like to long time for them to cook in general. You’d think the casings would dry out as time goes on but I don’t think this is the case, they get rubbery. If you mix and fry up a small test patty in a pan with no fat coming out, that’s a tell tale sign it’s too lean. I mix 50% venison and 50% pork butt, that’s my personal go to… to each his own!


  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee

    Parksider Don’t say that! I would say that finishing up in water thing has been the single most useful tip that a user has given. I know a lot of other people have also given some really good advice but that really is a game changer in a lot of different ways! Now, if we want to talk about things people shouldn’t say anymore it is ME and protein extraction!


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