Snack stick casings extremely tough
We recently visited the Waltons West store in Wichita and purchased the jalapeño snack stick mix, several spices, hi temp cheese, and a small stuffer. Enough for 25lb of snack sticks.
I already had some brand XXX edible collagen snack stick casings from a name brand supplier at the house so decided to use them instead of buying more.
Using ground elk with 10% pork fat added at the processor, decided to add some cheap pork sausage for additional fat content and seasoning.
After cooking on the Traeger, monitoring the internal temps with a blue tooth thermometer, brought them in and cooled in an ice bath according to instructions.
Conclusion: I wish we didn’t add the cheap sausage. The flavor was of excess fat, not meat/seasonings.
The edible collagen casings ended up extremely tough. So tough they are just about not able to be eaten. Why so tough?
The casings could have just been dried out, or coming from another supplier, who knows how long they were on the shelf before they were sold to you. That would be one reason I’d recommend our casings. The casings that come from us are also the same high quality casings that commercial meat processors are using, whereas the casings from another retailer many times can be a lower quality and cheaper casing.
If one was to assume the quality of casings was not an issue, case hardening (tough exterior and casing) is typically a result of cooking temperatures. Sometimes it is from cooking at too high of a temp, or simply increasing the cooking temp too quickly. Adding a water pan to the smoker to help increase humidity and avoid a dry/hot heat can help as well. We recommend starting out the cooking with a low and slow incremental rise in temps (recommended cook cycle is 125F for 1 hour, 140F for 1 hour, 155F for 2 hours, then finally 175F until the internal meat temp is 160F). If you can’t hit some of those lower temps, keep the smoker as low as possible to start and don’t increase the temps past 200F.
Those are at least a few ideas to start with. If you don’t think the cooking process was the issue, let us know what your approximate cook cycle was, and we can help brainstorm further from there!
I'll have to admit the casings were old. Probably well over a year at our house, and no telling how long they were hanging in the store. Pretty tough getting them on the stuffer tube even when coated with some vegetable oil.
Next batch will be with fresh casings.
As a general rule of thumb, we highly discourage using vegetable oil for anything involved with meat processing.
It can ultimately cause more problems than it solves.
If you are using vegetable oil for lubricant to slide casings on the stuffing tube, that could be a portion of the problem in this specific case too. If you get oil on the casings, it can dry them out and almost fry them while smoking/cooking. It can at least cook them faster and dry them out though.
I’d say there is a good chance you reduce the casing issues you had by not using the vegetable oil.
What is recommended for a lube to get the casings on the stuffer tube if vegetable oil is not good?
Perhaps it was the old casings being the issue, but the casings were very difficult to get on the tube without some sort of lube. Bacon fat?
Bacon makes everything good! LOL.
The best answer would be to just use a smaller stuffing tube, or use a larger casing that fits better on your stuffing tube.
Using fat would be better than vegetable oil, but still the best answer is to match up the stuffing tube and casings for a better fit.
Looking for a little help. Just made my firs batch of snack sticks and the texture was chalky. I made a 10 lb batch using 6 lbs of untrimmed tri tip beef and 4 pounds of pork shoulder. I ran it through the 3/8 grinder first and then added all my seasoning and cheese. I then mixed all ingredients including 45 grams of carrot fiber and then ran through the 1/8 grinding plate. I then hand mixed for 8 minutes and added my water and 45 grams of citric acid and mixed for an additional 12 minutes. I noticed that as soon as i mixed the citric acid in, the texture changed from sticky to chalky. I then stuffed into a 19mm collagen casings and hun in the smoker for 1 hr at 125, 1hr at 140, 2 hours at 155, then turned it up to 175, added smoke and cooked until internal temperature of 160. I then removed and placed in an ice bath for 10 minutes. Let them come to room temperature for 1 hour. The flavor was good but the texture was chalky. I know that I messed up and should have only mixed the citric acid in the ladd minute but was that my only mistake. Did i use tooo much citric acid or carrot fiber?
Thanks @Joe-Hell ! Good to be back. I hope to be making alot more stuff this year and keep connected with y’all!
@deplorablenc1 Welcome back man! It looks like you’ve been busy. Glad to hear from you!