Best way to smoke 25lb of sausage in a PK100

  • Team Blue PK100 Kamado Joes Regular Contributors

    Well, my new PK100 should arrive in a few days. I have 25lb of boneless butts ($2.99/lb at Costco now vs usually $1.99/lb - ouch) in the fridge ready to make a batch of cured/smoked hot links with cheese (probably hot pepper, but also have swiss and cheddar if anyone has input on a better choice).

    To make my first smoke easier, I wanted to see how those of you that have a PK100 set it up:

    • Should I use 1/2" or 3/4" hardwood dowels?

    • How many dowel rods should I plan on making?

    • When stuffing should I shoot for a specific length and tie into a loop to hang (or not tie and have ends at bottom)?

    • Do I just stuff a long single length of sausage and loop numerous times around each rod?

    • Should I do one level or two of hanging sausage (imagine length will play a part here)?

    • Assume I rotate rods at least once during cook (front to back and flip left to right)?

    • How close to the bottom of smoker is useable? What is a good clearance from drip tray/diffuser to prevent over-cooking?

    • Any other “new user tips” to help with learning curve?

    Thanks!

  • Regular Contributors

    One of the basic fundamentals is to not have the smoker overfilled and to not have any product touching while hanging. Trying to get all 25 lbs in the smoker may make that hard to do.
    An overfilled smoker will not allow heat to circulate properly in the smoker
    You can always split the batch into two separate smoke sessions if it looks like the smoker will be too full.
    You can’t under load a smoker but you can definitely overload one.
    I think 1/2 inch dowels will be adequate and give you a little more room in the smoker.
    You do not normally want to move things around in the smoker once you start smoking.
    You definitely do want to avoid getting product too close to the heat source.
    Direct/radiant heat can over cook low hanging product that is too close to the heat source.

  • Team Blue PK100 Kamado Joes Regular Contributors

    processhead My pre-sale research indicated the PK100 should be able to handle a 25lb batch without being over-crowded. That had me assuming there are ways to maximize the space used to do this. Guess I’ll see once its on site and worst case I do 2 sessions.

  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Big Green Egg Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Canning Power User

    Jamieson22 I agree with processhead that you shouldn’t move them if you don’t have to. My MB has a hot spot near the heat source so I do, depends on your equipment. On linking or using a continuous loop depends on the style or what you want. I link my fresh and smoked Polish for grilling but make longer loops for making family meals.

  • Power User PK100 Regular Contributors Team Grey

    Jamieson22 dowel size I’m not sure as I have aluminum rods, I would think 1/2” would be ok for snack sticks. Three pound longs of summer sausage maybe go with 5/8”. Go with a hardwood such as hickory as well.

    I have ten hanging sticks and haven’t used them all at once yet. I believe for 25 lbs was 5 rods

    25lbs will be tight, not sure if you will be able to pull it off. It will be close if you go from top rung down close to the drip pan.

    I prefer to figure out the length you need then double that and hang each long rope in the middle so you have two lengths on each spot on the rod. I also tie each end with butcher string although it has been said it’s not necessary. I leave each tied end hanging, I don’t connect them together. I just like the look of it and it keeps the meat uniform and casing from shrinking past the meat in my opinion.

    Once you start definitely do not open the door unless absolutely have to, so that means no need to move any sticks around for even cooking, the PK100 is premium equipment.

    What saw dust are you using, I will suggest hickory if you want a stronger smoke. Apple or cherry if a lighter smoke is wanted. 1/2 to 3/4 pan lightly moistened, for 3 hours max. I prefer 1.5 hrs.

    Use the 1250 watt setting on your burner from start to finish.

    What is your smoke/cook schedule choice?

  • Team Blue PK100 Kamado Joes Regular Contributors

    YooperDog said in Best way to smoke 25lb of sausage in a PK100:

    I link my fresh and smoked Polish for grilling but make longer loops for making family meals.

    Yeah was thinking of making loops for these hot links though may just make them in pairs of long links - basically same but with a twist in the middle as well.

    twilliams said in Best way to smoke 25lb of sausage in a PK100:

    25lbs will be tight, not sure if you will be able to pull it off. It will be close if you go from top rung down close to the drip pan.

    Yeah wasn’t sure if there is a certain length that allows two levels to be hung or if only one level what length maximized space in the PK100. Guess I can figure this out once smoker is on site.

    I also tie each end with butcher string although it has been said it’s not necessary. I leave each tied end hanging, I don’t connect them together.

    I (in my limited experience) have just tied the casing together to form loop or at each end. Though that takes planning to know what size you are shooting for to pull some extra casing off between links when stuffing.

    What saw dust are you using, I will suggest hickory if you want a stronger smoke. Apple or cherry if a lighter smoke is wanted. 1/2 to 3/4 pan lightly moistened, for 3 hours max. I prefer 1.5 hrs.

    I ordered 5lb bags of Apple and Cherry and 40lb bags of Hickory and Mixed Harwood are coming on the pallet with my PK100 (ordered direct from Pro Smoker). The 40lb bags were only like $17 each over phone, not $60 like they are on website). After seeing size of 5lb bags am scared of these 40lb ones! Also have 2400lb of Lumber Jack pellets being delivered for my pellet smoker tomorrow. For these hot links planned to use Hickory or Mixed Harwood.

    What is your smoke/cook schedule choice?

    Planned to follow the Walton schedule that ramps up 120/130/140/150/160/170 - though with a large load of sausage and likely wet from fridge when I start (I store in a covered meat lug overnight) I can’t see 30 min drying them off. Any advice/recommendations?

  • Power User PK100 Regular Contributors Team Grey

    Jamieson22 1 hour with dampers wide open no smoke at 120* will be just fine. Read the manual when you receive the smoker. If it’s the same one I got it’s a lot of helpful info with recipes


  • Not a PK but this is how I do it.
    For snack sticks, I use 3/4” rods, just what my lumberyard had at the time. I stuff mine in the longest continuous lengths I can. After all the stuffing is done, I mark out 23” on my cutting surface and cut 23” long lengths. After they are all done I cut the “U” out that was over the sticks , trim the ends and it leaves you with 8” sticks. These fit perfect into quart vac bags. I take the ends and “U”s to work to snack on.

    I use small “S” hooks for polish and hot links. You can get like 100 of them on amazon for like $5. I twist them at 7” and hang from the top rack. Leave plenty of room for twisting when stiffing. Tightly stuffed sausage likes to blowout when twisting and not hold the twist.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    twilliams Just checked and my dowels are 5/8" and I’ve hung everything you can think of off those; bacon, hams, sticks, summer logs and…well that might be it actually, but what else is there? I’d imagine the 1/2" would also be fine for 3 lb logs.

    As for 25 lb of pork butts in the Pk you will be fine with that. I’ve done it plenty of times and you should be able to fit it easily. If it appears to be getting overly stuffed you will know it but you should be able to remove a few of the screens and then stack them 3-4 on a level.

    My recommendation would be to get in the habit of leaving a chimney in the middle. About 4-5" sq in the center of each screen with no meat blocking it.

  • Team Blue PK100 Kamado Joes Regular Contributors

    Jonathon said in Best way to smoke 25lb of sausage in a PK100:

    As for 25 lb of pork butts in the Pk you will be fine with that. I’ve done it plenty of times and you should be able to fit it easily. If it appears to be getting overly stuffed you will know it but you should be able to remove a few of the screens and then stack them 3-4 on a level.

    Just to clarify: Looking to fit 25lb batch of sausage (35-38mm most likely) made from 25lb of butts. Not the butts themselves.

  • Team Orange PK100 Sous Vide Power User

    Jamieson22

    – I use 1/2" dowels cut to 17.5". That was on advice from an Account Executive at ProSmoker who cooks on a PK 100. That’s been more than adequate. I managed to catch a sale on hickory dowel, so that was even better.

    – I’d go ahead and cut 5 or 6 dowels, just to be sure. I’ve only needed 2 for my largest batches (11 lbs when you count in meat and cheese), so 5 probably is good enough. However, it’s the sort of situation that you don’t want to find out you’re one short when you need it.

    – How you want to link your sausage is pretty much up to you. Personally, I just run as long a length as I can and then twist into links. I have been thinking about doing more rope style, though.

    – You’ll need to do 2 levels if you want to smoke 25 lbs. at a time.

    – Rotating is not impossible, but it could be difficult. As others mentioned, it might not even be a good idea.

    – There are a couple things you can do to make better use of the bottom of the smoker. First, put in a water pan. That pan is not only good to help with humidity, but it also works as insulation between direct heat from the heating element and drip tray. The other thing to do is take a little extra effort and switch between the 1250 W and 625 W settings (more on that below).

    – Extra Tip #1: Give your PK time to get up to temp. Even though you might get to your target temperature fairly quickly according to the thermometer, it takes more time for every part of it to come up to temperature, even if you only are at 120 F for drying. Give it a good 15-30 minutes after you hit that initial setpoint, and you’ll see flatter temperature swings and a more consistent cook. I use a separate thermometer in the cooker (for a few reasons), and I see the difference between it and the PK thermometer start out fairly far apart at first but then get pretty dadgum close after 20 minutes or so of hitting the initial setpoint.

    – Extra Tip #2: Switch between 625 W and 1250 W as appropriate. 1250 W is great for when you first turn on the cooker and are trying heating it all up, but leaving it on there leads to larger temperature swings (the overshoot is greater when set on 1250 W). I’m good having it on 1250 W when raising the temperature 10 degrees F or more, but I switch it back to 625 W when I’m around 5 degrees F from my setpoint. That’s done a LOT to flatten out the swings. There always will be swings because that’s how electrical cookers work, but it’s nice to flatten them out a bit. I might even just leave it on 625 W if I am not in a hurry and doing something semi-dried (like Summer sausage), as long as the weather lets me (not cold and windy). It’s a little more work and a little more time, but I like what I’m getting for that effort.

    – Extra Tip #3: Get a remote thermometer so you can see what’s going on while you’re away from the cooker. You don’t need it, but you’ll like it. I use my Thermoworks Signals.

    – Extra Tip #4: As already mentioned, you won’t need or want smoke going all the time. 90-120 minutes likely is plenty. While you might want a little more (for something REALLY smoky), you might even want less (matter of taste). In any case, you don’t want 5 hours of smoke. The smoke you get from sawdust and in the PK is pretty potent stuff. I actually measure smoke more in how much I put in the bowl instead by time. A full bowl is plenty, but I suppose that also can depend on what you put in there (I usually use a mix of oak, mesquite, and cherry). (On that, the 40 lb. bags are going to last you quite a while!)

    Another thing, keep in mind that a “25# batch” of sausage is more than 25 lbs., especially if you are adding cheese. I expect you’ll need to split your batch for smoking. If you have the freezer space (and I hope you do, since you’re making all that sausage), you also could put some of that pork butt in the freezer and come back to it (go ahead and cube it up for grinding, if you want).

    The Swiss and cheddar cheese are quite good, but the ghost pepper cheese is amazing for those that like it spicy (it’s not as hot as “ghost pepper” suggests, but it still has plenty of kick).

  • Team Blue PK100 Kamado Joes Regular Contributors

    TexLaw said in Best way to smoke 25lb of sausage in a PK100:

    – I use 1/2" dowels cut to 17.5". That was on advice from an Account Executive at ProSmoker who cooks on a PK 100. That’s been more than adequate. I managed to catch a sale on hickory dowel, so that was even better.

    Perfect. Looks like I can grab 48" long 1/2" hardwood dowels for $2.17. They have them in 36" but they are oak and are > 2x as much. I’ll plan to make 6 for now.

    – How you want to link your sausage is pretty much up to you. Personally, I just run as long a length as I can and then twist into links. I have been thinking about doing more rope style, though.

    Guess I was hoping for some magic length that optimizes the vertical space when hanging for making rope style. I’ll play with it a bit to see before I make this batch.

    – You’ll need to do 2 levels if you want to smoke 25 lbs. at a time.

    – Rotating is not impossible, but it could be difficult. As others mentioned, it might not even be a good idea.

    – There are a couple things you can do to make better use of the bottom of the smoker. First, put in a water pan.

    Do you use a separate pan for water than you do for sawdust? I was thinking once sawdust was burned completely I’d dump that bowl and fill it with hot water. Assume you keep water pan on burner not on top of drip tray?

    – Extra Tip #1: Give your PK time to get up to temp.

    Def plan on this and do same on my other smokers. Takes some time/energy to heat up all that metal before cooking.

    – Extra Tip #2: Switch between 625 W and 1250 W as appropriate. 1250 W is great for when you first turn on the cooker and are trying heating it all up, but leaving it on there leads to larger temperature swings (the overshoot is greater when set on 1250 W). I’m good having it on 1250 W when raising the temperature 10 degrees F or more, but I switch it back to 625 W when I’m around 5 degrees F from my setpoint.

    Excellent, appreciate this tip!

    – Extra Tip #3: Get a remote thermometer so you can see what’s going on while you’re away from the cooker. You don’t need it, but you’ll like it. I use my Thermoworks Signals.

    I have a Thermoworks Smoke. When I make BBQ on my Pitts & Spitts I go by look/feel (and verify with my Thermapen) so really only use it when doing a prime rib or something that will be ruined if it gets too hot. Imagine with no window on the PK100 it will be handy to monitor how things are going. Figure I’ll probe a sausage in the middle of cooker to monitor the progress as well

    – Extra Tip #4: As already mentioned, you won’t need or want smoke going all the time. 90-120 minutes likely is plenty.

    How much of a bowl of sawdust gives you that amount of smoke?

    I expect you’ll need to split your batch for smoking. If you have the freezer space (and I hope you do, since you’re making all that sausage), you also could put some of that pork butt in the freezer and come back to it (go ahead and cube it up for grinding, if you want).

    Two full size fridge/freezers and a chest freezer :)
    Honestly I give most of the sausage away to friends and neighbors so usually don’t store too much.
    How long does a batch of cured/smoked sausage normally take you? Will help to know in case I have to do 2 batches.

    The Swiss and cheddar cheese are quite good, but the ghost pepper cheese is amazing for those that like it spicy (it’s not as hot as “ghost pepper” suggests, but it still has plenty of kick).

    Will have to try that one next. I have the 2.5lb of Hot Pepper cheese in fridge and used other half on a batch of Willie’s Snack Sticks. Has a very mild kick.

  • Power User PK100 Regular Contributors Team Grey

    Jamieson22 my apologies I was thinking you were making snack sticks, not linked smoked bratwurst

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Jamieson22 lol sorry about that! You should still be okay with hanging 25 lb. Someone above said you might have to do 2 levels and depending on the casing you use that is correct, you don’t want to hang a full run of 35-38mm natural casings as they could easily split at full length and then you’d have a mess.

  • PK100 Team Blue

    DF009E25-7B8D-47CD-97A4-B49F1F0D583F.jpeg

    I have smoked 27 lbs of venison summer sausage in my PK100. Used the 40 mm x 18 in Collagen Casings. I just put two racks in the top position and ran chop sticks thru the casing loops. Came out fantastic. 😎 I like the smaller 1lb. Tubes because I give them to a lot of friends. They are also about the perfect size for ritz crackers when sliced. I do have some friends that eat these one pounders like they are snack sticks.🤤 I used Waltons Ton Summer Unit seasoning, outstanding.

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