Cured Sausage 106 - Basics of Making Snack Sticks
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
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
140F for 1 hour
155F for 2 hours
175F until internal meat temp of 160F
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
@newbe … Afternoon… Keep the meat BELOW 40 degrees F… Bacteria is growing while the meat is warming up… then again when cooling down… The LAST thing you want or need is a batch of meat that has been warm for an hour or longer… One good way to do that is double bowl the meat… Ice in the larger bowl and the smaller bowl, with the meat in it, on ice… You don’t want your family to get food poisoning… Dave
I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.
Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.
Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??
Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.