Top 5 Mistakes Made When Making Homemade Snack Sticks!
Learn about the top 5 mistakes made when making homemade snack sticks!
Hey guys, it’s Jon from Meatgistics and today we are going to show you 5 common mistakes that people make when they are making homemade snack sticks. Snacksticks are a great treat and a fun way to try some great seasonings as long as you are making them correctly! No one wants to put in all the time and effort into making a batch of snack sticks just to have an easily avoidable error ruin your batch! Read this article for the top 5 most common issues people run into when making snack sticks! …#3 will shock you!!!
#1 You are not using a Binder! The term Binder can be a bit misleading, yes it’s main function is to help the product bind together but it does much more than that. A more accurate description of what it does is increases your margin of error for a few of these steps! For example, how long you mix and grind your meat are extremely important when making snack sticks because you need the correct amount of protein extraction, if you miss it by a little bit then your texture and taste are going to be off, well you can extend that margin of error by adding a low cost binder like carrot fiber! That is not all binders do of course, they also give you more room for error in the smokehouse, make stuffing easier and they increase your final yield, meaning more snack sticks for the family to enjoy! For a few dollars a package adding a binder is a really great way to make sure you are making a better product. Have you ever had your casing separate from your meat during the cooking process? That is probably because you did not get enough protein extraction during the mixing phase and a binder can help with that!
# 2 You are not using Smoked Meat Stabilizer with wild game. Snack sticks can be made out of almost any meatblock but you can’t treat an all beef or pork snack stick the same as one you are making out of a deer you got last weekend! If you are using any type of wild game like venison, elk, moose, etc. you need to be using smoked meat stabilizer. Smoked Meat Stabilizer is a cure accelerator that helps kill many common bacteria found in meat processing but especially in wild game! This makes your product safer and also helps to preserve the smoked flavor after packaging.
# 3 Your meat Block is too Lean! if you are making homemade snack sticks you want a fat percentage of 20% or more. The fat acts as a vehicle for the seasoning and coats your mouth and tongue with the taste allowing you to get more of the flavor and allowing it to linger longer. Fat also gives the snack stick a more pleasing texture and prevents it from drying up. Fat gets demonized by a lot of people because they associate the fat we eat with the fat on our bodies. Now, I am not saying you should switch to an all bacon and sausage diet but fat is essential to keeping our bodies running properly and it is going to give you a better all around product.
# 4 You are cooking your snack sticks too quickly. If you start cooking at a higher temperature, you risk creating a tough and dry exterior and casing, sometimes known as case hardening. This can cause an issue because once the outside of the stick has cooked it will no longer efficiently transfer heat to the center of the stick, leaving you with an overdone exterior and an under-cooked interior. Case hardening basically makes it hard to fully cook the product up to a safe temp, and it does not allow moisture to escape as easily and in a semi-dried product like snack sticks part of our goal is to dry the product out (to an extent, but not as dry as something like jerky). A slow and incremental increase in your smoker temps will help the meat temp rise at a rate that will help prevent case hardening, while still creating a safe and consumable product when finished. Within 2 hours we are setting the smokehouse temp up to a high enough temp to really get the meat up into a temperature range that will begin killing bacteria, and that should be within a sufficient enough time to not be a concern. For more information on this check out our Snack Stick Tutorial which will walk you through the process step by step!
# 5 You are either over or under stuffing your casings. If you have ever had your casings pop or burst during the cooking process there is a good chance you are overstuffing your casings. If you normally end up with an extremely wrinkly product then their is a good chance you are understuffing your casings. With anything you are going to link like sausages it is better to understuff than to overstuff as you can always twist them a few more times to tighten them up, but you can not do that with a snack stick. It will take some practice but finding the correct stuffing proportions will help you with the appearance of your product and the ease of cooking.
So there are 5 very common mistakes people make when making snack sticks! If you have questions on what might be causing a specific problem for you leave us a comment and we will get back to you, or you can always follow me on here and send me a private chat if you’d prefer to not post your question so everyone can see it!
phoffman last edited by
@jonathon Is there a reason that a finished meat stick would have a slightly gritty texture?
Thanks for any insight you may have.
@phoffman Without more information the only thing I can think of is the seasoning (or another additive) did not mix in well enough with the meat, fat and water and some of it did not dissolve. That could be what you are feeling when you bite into it?
What seasoning did you use? Were there any additives like Citric Acid or a binder? What casings did you use? How much water did you add and how much protein extraction did you get? Give me as much information as possible on your process and I will see if I can pinpoint any other possible issues!
A close up picture of the snack stick diameter might be helpful as well.
phoffman last edited by
@jonathon Thanks for the quick response. I am making my own seasoning and there are some flavors used in it as well. The composition of 1 lb is roughly:
70% Beef (80/20)
15% Pork (70/30)
Excalibur Sure Gel (used at recommended level)
Prague powder (used at recommended level)
4% seasoning and flavor
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
These ingredients were mixed in a stand mixer for 10 minutes and Encapsulated Citric added at the last second of mixing
They were stuffed into Walton’s 16mm smoked collagen casings
Thanks again for any insight you may have!
@phoffman Thanks for the information. If we leave out the possibility of one of your ingredients in your home mix being the culprit then the most likely issue is the Worcestershire Sauce. It can denature the meat quickly which could be the cause of your issue. On your next batch I would say leave that out and see if it fixes it! Let us know if we can be of any further assistance.
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Weekly Blog Post - Octopus and Squid, Vacuum Packing
Find out what's going on at Walton's and Meatgistics this week. We will have a loose schedule for soon to be released videos, what we are working on long-term and maybe a few quick tips and tricks that are on our mind!What Videos are being released soon?
Depending on what you see as soon we will have the almost complete first round of Meatgistics University Classes released. We have broken everything down into these categories; Meat Processing Equipment, Seasoning and Additives, Fresh Sausage, Cured Sausage, Jerky, Sausage Casings, Deli Meats, Smoked Meats, Cured Whole Muscle Meats, and Specialty Sausages. Each of these topics will have multiple entry-level classes covering topics like the type of casing to use, equipment needed and a basic processing class where appropriate.What Projects are we looking ahead at?
We are going to be doing two new Will it BBQ’s, hopefully, this week where we try BBQ’ing Squid and Octopus! The squid was a suggestion by Bob Zambutto through Walton’s Inc Facebook account! I had been wanting to do both of these for a while and when I went to our local Asian Grocery Store (Tai Binh for anyone local to Wichita, KS) and they had lots of options for both, they have almost anything and I got a few more weird ideas while I was there! Anyway, I picked up some baby octopus and a full size one, some small squid and two large ones as well. I am excited and nervous to see how this goes if nothing else it should be fun to watch!What’s on our Mind?
Did you know that you shouldn’t vacuum pack Mushrooms or Garlic? I was reading a Vacmaster VP120 instruction manual the other day and I saw an interesting note that said not to vacuum pack Garlic or Mushrooms! I had no idea that you shouldn’t do this so I thought I would share that with meatgistics readers to let you know not to do it as well. Apparently, they both are prone to bacteria that will continue to grow in oxygen-free environments. I was hoping it was something more impressive than that but it is good information to have.New Products
22" X 24" Collagen Sheets This are typically used for larger whole muscle cuts of meat, like when you are making prosciutto, capocollo, or other dried hams. This is an item that we have had lots of requests for over the years so we were happy to finally find a reliable and reputable source for it.
Thanks for the response!
I think a video on processed celery would be incredible. The only place I have been able to find celery powder as a cure was from “The Sausage Maker”, they have a Facebook page. It was expensive, designed only for sausages, and wasn’t packaged well.
As for the tackiness, good idea with the cornstarch! There are a bunch of big brands with zero additives that were able to achieve the soft texture with no tackiness, so I’m thinking it has to be in the processing. I read an article where someone at KRAVE mentioned a couple details about how they process their jerky. He said they first inject the meat, then cook the whole pieces, then slice, then marinate, then dry. I have messed around with the idea behind this process a lot. Injecting with brine, sous-viding at a variety of temperatures and times, slicing, marinating, and drying. Decent results, but to be honest the high sugar method you introduced to me has seemed to have better results.
Anyway, I will keep trying to figure this out and will definitely keep you guys posted if I make any headway. In the meantime, if there is anything else you think might be worth testing, please let me know! It would be great to try and perfect this process together.
@bob-s-meatgistics I moved one of my first pork butts into the oven and my whole house smelled like smoke. My wife did not stop complaining for a week until the smell was gone from both the house and the oven. I finish all my cooks outside. If you wrap it to speed up the cook you may want to unwrap it for the last hour to put the bark back on it.
@jonathon I am definitely going to purchase and follow the steps you’ve post, thank you sir! Additionally, if anyone has recipes, please share. I’ll try them all and post what my family thought of each. Thank you all, this is a very cool and educational blog, glad I found it wish it was years ago! Thanks again.