Cured Sausage 106 - Basics of Making Snack Sticks
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
What Are Snack Sticks?
Snack Sticks are a meat snack and semi-dried sausage that is stuffed into a smoked collagen casing and then hung in a smokehouse for cooking. Many Snack Stick will have a pH between 4.5 and 5.2 to give it some shelf stability and the classic tangy flavor
10 lb of Untrimmed Pork Butts
1 Bag of Willies Snack Stick Seasoning
1 Bag of Encapsulated Citric Acid
1 oz of Sure Cure (Included with purchase)
Weston #12 Butcher Series Grinder
Weston 20 lb Meat Mixer
Walton’s 11 lb Sausage Stuffer
The first thing you need to do is to grind your meat. You will want to grind the meat twice, the first grind should be with a 3/8 plate and then with a 1/8 plate, the second grind is going to take much longer than the first grind will as it has already been broken down once so it has more surface area. Remember to keep your meat cold through this process.
Next, you need to mix the seasoning and cure into your meat. To do this you can either use a meat mixer or do it by hand. Because this is a product that we are going to cure and smoke we need to achieve a high level of protein extraction so doing this with your hands is difficult. When using a mixer add the meat to the mixer, then the seasoning and cure and finally the water, you will want to mix in both directions until all seasoning and cure has been mixed in and you have good protein extraction. You will know that protein extraction has been achieved when the meat is sticky and tacky if you can pull a handful of it apart and it stretches that is a good sign. Add your Encapsulated Citric Acid during the last 60 seconds of mixing.
Next, we will want to stuff into casings. For snack sticks, 19-21mm smoked collagen casings are a good choice, they are large enough to make the stuffing easier while still being small enough to be considered a true snack stick. Use the largest stuffing tube that your casings will fit on and then begin stuffing. Stuff until the casing is full and smooth but not overly full or they will split when you try to hang them in your smoker.
When you are done stuffing the product has to be held in the refrigerator overnight to allow the cure time to work. If you added Encapsulated Citric Acid or other cure accelerators you skip this step.
Thermal Processing & Smoking
Either hang your snack sticks on smoking sticks or coil on racks
125F for 1 hour With No smoke and Dampers Open (drying stage)
140F for 1 hour With Smoke and Damper Closed
155F for 2 hours With Smoke and Damper Closed
175F until internal meat temp of 160F With Smoke and Damper Closed
When they have reached 160° internal temperature remove from the smoker and put them in an ice bath to bring the heat down and help set the casing.
Lastly, leave them out at room temperature for about an hour before vacuum packing them, this will ensure you don’t get additional moisture in the vacuum bag which would affect the shelf life of your meats.
In later classes, we will go over these and more advanced steps in greater detail for making Snack Sticks.
- Adding High-Temp Cheese adds a nice taste to your sticks and with very hot seasonings it can help cut the heat a little
- Use white oil to lubricate both your Grinder Plates and Knives and the Piston Gasket on your Sausage Stuffer
Depending on your pH and your Water Activity your sticks might be shelf stable but without a way to test this you should vacuum pack and refrigerate these.
Watch WaltonsTV: Basics of Making Snack Sticks