Do you vacuum pack your snack sticks?


  • Vacuum packed and freeze

  • Team Blue Big Green Egg Masterbuilt Canning

    RJ Adventures I use 19mm collegen casings. I’m like twilliams I want to try sheep casings but don’t like failure.

  • Sous Vide Canning American BBQ System Team Blue

    twilliams I use the tubed(only way to go) sheep casings making my breakfast sausage into links… they’re amazing, my only concern was trying to use the fresh casings and hanging them without having them split while they’re heating up


  • What I am reading seems to be improper prep and I would like offer a few tips.

    We specialize in Wild Game and Sticks are probably the most popular item we make for folks. We Chamber Vac Seal 100% of our sticks but they are dried properly in the smokehouse and when they come out of the smokehouse they get rolled into the cooler overnight prior to packaging the next day.

    I have never understood why folks Ice Bath sticks (?). When you consider the time spent DRYING them why would you ever introduce moisture back in??

    An Ice Bath is not necessary to stop cooking. 156 degree sticks will cool to 41 degrees in 1 hour 20 minutes in a 38 degree cooler which is well within the USDA required HACCP requirements.

    I am guessing that another mistake being made is not allowing their sticks enough time to reach room temperature before packaging.

    Make sure the sticks are allowed enough time to warm up to room temperature. As they warm up condensation will form on the outside. MAKE SURE the condensation that forms on the outside has sufficient time to dry BEFORE putting them in bags and sealing.

    If packaged to soon the moisture will be trapped and form ice crystals in the freezer and then turn back into water upon thawing which is what I believe folks are experiencing.

    With Proper prep prior to sealing/freezing sticks should come out of the freezer the same as they went in. Keep in mind that as they thaw and warm up they will once again form condensation that will need to be dried. Taking them out of the bag and onto paper towel as they thaw will help the drying.

    Hope this helps…


  • RJ Adventures
    Make sure to use Mahogany casings. They are intended for the smokehouse and hanging. Ours go into the smokehouse 6’ long (3’/side) and never had a split yet.

  • Sous Vide Canning American BBQ System Team Blue

    Dan Vesel always have used mahogany casings, just curious if anyone has ever used anything else for customer preference, personal preference, etc. Also when it comes to the ice bath, yes it has been done to help lower the IT quicker, as an hour and 20 min of natural cooling may cause that cooked temp to be higher than desired, but the ice bath mostly (for those who may not have a nice commercial smoker which I assume you have) to have the casing form to the meat much better, again not many people here are using hydraulic stuffers like I assume you are so this just helps that process

  • Power User PK100 Regular Contributors Team Grey

    Dan Vesel you gotta remember majority are home processors, they dont have hanging carts to ‘roll’ in and out of huge smokers and coolers. Ice bath is best practice they can do. To my knowledge by putting in an ice bath the meat does not soak up any water. It would not be wise to pull 25lbs of sticks out of smoker, stack them on top of each other in a meat lug to put in a refrigerator. The middle and bottom of the pile wont cool as fast as the top. Thank you for the advice and tips, i did get valuble info on differences of comparement of what i was doing


  • RJ Adventures
    Yup hydraulic stuffer and commercial (electric) smokehouse.

    Hydraulic is definitely not for the hobbyist but I started out the same as everyone else (Horn Stuffer, Manual 5 # vertical, 12#, 30# manual, 30# electric, and then finally a 50# Hydraulic Talsa Stuffer.

    I have a friend that uses ONLY sheep casings but he is making it for his friends and family and that is how they like it. I have had his sticks many time and they are fantastic.

    Another thought:
    I have another friend that only has a gas smoker and he is ALWAYS struggling with his drying. Gas smokers add moisture and hinder the drying process. It can be done but requires more time and attention than an electric smokehouse. He is planning on getting a second (electric) smoker for sausage making and keeping his gas for smoking big meats (Pulled Pork, Brisket, Ribs, and also Polish) which is ideal when trying to keep meat moist.

    Both casing options are great but it comes down to personal preference. In all my years I have not had anyone request natural casings. Maybe they are unaware that there is an option just never had anyone ask is all.

    Everything we have is computerized and our smokehouse sends all data to a PC complete with graphs so it is very easy to track and see exactly what is happening down to 1/10 of a degree.

    We pull sticks (21mm Mahogany) at 156.0 and being they are so small they do stop cooking almost immediately (normally climbs to only 156.4-156.6). Within 5 minutes they are already in the mid 140’s.

    Summer Sausage and Polish is another thing. Those DO require an Ice Bath to stop cooking. We pull 2.5" SS at 154.0 degrees and immediately into an Ice Bath. SS continues to climb and reaches 156 (every once in a while 157) depending on how big of a load we are unloading and how long it takes to get into the ice bath.

    Not trying to tell folks what to do or how to do it, I am only offering my experience to anyone that may want to try another variation or method.

  • Team Blue Masterbuilt Canning Sous Vide Power User

    In all my years and all my skill sets I have found that it’s not how fancy or expensive the tool, but knowing how to use what you have correctly 😊

  • Regular Contributors

    I would agree that cooling snack sticks in an ice/water bath is normally unnecessary and have never done this.
    When you think about how little meat there is in a snack stick relative to the surface area, sticks heat up relatively quickly and they cool down to ambient very quickly. No issues with my sheep casing sticks separating.

    On larger diameter sausages product it makes sense to cool them off with a water bath. The greater mass takes longer to heat up and much longer to lose the heat when done with thermal processing, Even then, I just use cold water from the tap into a lug with the sausage and let it run slow while I monitor the core temperature. No ice.

    Two fundamental principals here:
    Heat transfer through water will always be quicker than through air.
    Heat gain and loss for a large object will always take more time than for a small object.


  • twilliams
    That is awesome!

    I realize that I am on a different level but I (most likely like everyone else here) also started with a 3# horn stuffer in the kitchen.

    I also started with meat lugs and realized right away that they cooled differently like you said so I invested in some jerky racks for cooling which lets air flow for more even cooling. https://www.waltonsinc.com/3-tier-jerky-racks

  • Regular Contributors

    twilliams said in Do you vacuum pack your snack sticks?:

    Dan Vesel you gotta remember majority are home processors, they dont have hanging carts to ‘roll’ in and out of huge smokers and coolers. Ice bath is best practice they can do. To my knowledge by putting in an ice bath the meat does not soak up any water. It would not be wise to pull 25lbs of sticks out of smoker, stack them on top of each other in a meat lug to put in a refrigerator. The middle and bottom of the pile wont cool as fast as the top. Thank you for the advice and tips, i did get valuble info on differences of comparement of what i was doing

    I totally agree with not putting finished sticks in a lug. For air cooling to work, the air needs to be able to circulate around the sticks.

    When smoking outdoors during cool weather, just power down the smoker and open the door when they are finished and let the sticks remain in the smoker. They will have adequate air flow around them and will cool down quickly.

    During warm weather, you may want to move them to a refrigerator and lay them on open racks to cool, again with adequate spacing.

  • Team Blue Masterbuilt Canning Sous Vide Power User

    Dan Vesel I didn’t know they made a #3 horn? 😊


  • Yup. They “CALL” it a 5# but it’s not. Try and put a half batch in a 15#. Doesn’t fit so good 😂


  • Just WOW everyone!!!

    I thank you all for the input. I have really been getting a ton of good info.

    And thank you Dan Vessel…You have given us some good insight I think. Your detailed post was very insightful and makes a ton of sense to me.

    I am seriously reconsidering the whole ice bath thing because I have a spare Fridge in the garage that I could use to cool my sticks down with instead of an ice bath.

  • Team Orange

    After drying well, I flash freeze mine and vacuum pack. I usually put mine in smaller quantities so I can have a choice of when flavor I want. Also makes it easier to give my brother a smaller amount when he wants to raid the stick stash.


  • GREAT to hear!

    Not that my way is the right way but I am happy with my results as are our customers so it must be close (LOL).

    I can still remember struggling and not being happy with my results from grinding to packaging and everything in between. Not to mention all of the trial and error and ruined product over the years. Not sure if MEATGISTICS was even a thing back then but can only imagine how much quicker I could have got to where I am today and wouldn’t mind helping anyone just getting started or struggling like I have in the past.

    I get a kick out of those that have a “TRADE SECRET” and won’t share with anyone but lets face it, what we are doing is not rocket science and anyone can do it. Boils down to how involved you want to get and how much to invest in equipment. I tell any customer that wants to know the how and why so they can go home and do it themselves. In fact, I even supply them with the spices, casings, meat, etc… if they wish all way down to the process we use.

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