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.
New to the forum and excited to learn! Looking to smoke my first batch of summers on my smoker. I noticed they have strings for hanging, but my smoker is set up more like a traditional barrel grill.
Questions: If I lay my summers on the grate of the smoker, will the casings burst/burn?
Thanks in advance!
The article does not cover when to cold smoke a cured ham. I have 16 wild hog hams in brine as of last night. I need to know at what point do I put them in the smoke house for this phase of the process.
For this version of Landjaeger, we did actually cook it. It could be made differently, but for our entry level MeatgisticsU course, it’s easier and safer to give instructions on doing a proper thermal processing. (Someday we will have to try to get to doing a completely traditional dry cured version.)
Smoked Meat Stabilizer and Sodium Erythorbate are similar to each other, but definitely not a replacement for a real cure, like Sure Cure. They simply act as cure accelerators, speeding up the conversion of nitrite in sausage during thermal processing. Using an accelerator (like one of these, or Encapsulated Citric Acid) allows you to skip the holding stage after stuffing and go straight into the smokehouse.
In the ‘Meat Block’ you don’t list using a cure. The packet of Landjaeger seasoning I purchased came with a packet of Cure.
As this is a sausage that is ment to be consumed without cooking shouldn’t a cure be used. I know you put in the wrap up about using Smoked Meat Stabilizer or Sodium Erythorbate are they equivalent to using a true cure.
You shouldn’t have a noticeable difference in stuffing based upon the difference of using a grinder or a bowl chopper.
Your biggest help in making stuffing easier will be using plenty of water. At least 1 quart per 25 lb meat block, but up to 2 quarts is even better. And, your lean to fat ratio will make a difference. Leaner meat will be harder to stuff while a higher fat content will make things easier. Keep the meat as cold as possible too and that will help make things a little easier to stuff as well.
I would continue to use the grinder and just add a little more water to the mixture and make sure you lube the gasket and you should be good to go. Although you could definitely use the Buffalo chopper and just add ice instead of straight water and that should help.