Snack Stick Tube Problems

  • I tried making a batch of beef snack sticks. I have a 5lb vertical stuffer and used a 3/8 tube with 16mm
    casings. For the life of me I could not turn the handle too far without a blowout around the gasket. I was afraid I was going to strip the gears. I even tried adding water to the mix. Nothing helped. I love the size of these and don’t want to go to a larger diameter. Would cutting the horn shorter help? There must be a way to make these. Any suggestions?

  • Walton's Employee

    @ggillis Stuffing into 16mm tubes is tough with a manual crank stuffer. I see you added water so that is one option tried. The next would be to make sure that you haven’t held the product overnight after adding the cure and seasoning before trying to stuff it, I don’t think this is the case but it is always good to check. The next thing you will want to try is getting the meat very cold right before you put it in the stuffer. The colder the meat is the easier it will stuff for sure, so this would be the next thing I would try. Shorter horn is a good question, I have never tried it but it sounds like it would make sense as you are asking the piston to create less force as it does not need to push the meat through as long an enclosed space. But again, I have never tried that, just seems like it would work.

    Does anyone else have any good ideas to help?

  • Power User

    Austin is right, there is no easy way to get meat, especially if it has cure in it, into the 16mm casings. You WILL strip the stuffer, been there done that! I found that doing small batches, add water and stuff immediately, try doing maybe a pound or two at a time. Go up to the 19mm it will make like much easier and really isn’t that big of a jump. Even our 35# hydraulic doesn’t like casings under 19mm, just too much pressure. Save your shoulder and the stuffer gears!
    If you do cut the tube down, be sure to post and let us know how it goes, i’m curious???

  • @jonathon Thank you for the reply. I’m a newbie here. So I should only add the cure and seasoning right before I stuff it? Is it dangerous if I let it sit overnight in the fridge?

  • Walton's Employee

    @ggillis It’s not dangerous to let it sit but you want to let it sit after you stuff it. If you mix everything and then let it sit the meat is going to set up and become MUCH harder to stuff. So, go right from mixing to stuffing and then if you need to hold it, hold it at that point. Another option is to use a cure accelerator, with sticks I like Encapsulated Citric Acid as I like the tanginess that is added as well as the cure accelerating properties.

    No need for apologies ever on here! We were all new at one point and even the more experienced home (and even commercial) processors have questions on things!

  • I mix everything except the sure gel and let it set overnight . The next day I add water and sure gel and stuff 16mm casings immediately. No problem with an 11 lb. manual
    Learning correct consistency doesn’t take long, keep at it!

  • So does this mean that the 11lb stuffer is more or less the preferred size of stuffer for making snack sticks with? Especially when combined with the 19mm casings?

  • Walton's Employee

    @Jeff-Allen While the 26 and 33 lb sausage stuffers absolutely will make 19mm snack sticks the reduced size of the piston on the 11 lb model does make it easier. I have made snack sticks with all of the sizes and especially when you are working by yourself the 11 lb is easier to do.

  • So a couple things for you here. First off you really just dont have the proper equipment to stuff 16mm casings, but you can try a couple things. Spray all your equipment with a good food grade lubricant. Inside the stuffing horn and inside the meat cylinder so meat can flow as best as possible. Second get a 1/2 inch stuffing horn. Its going to be a bit of a pain bit you will have to manually roll your 16mm casings onto your 1/2 inch stuffing horn just like you would fresh casings. Stuffing through a 1/2 inch horn is going to be eaiser than 3/8. Third as another option is to mix a small amount of vegitable oil into your meat to add some lubrication without effecting flavor. These are just a few options to try with your equipment. Let us know how it goes!

  • @jonathon It looks to me you may have missed a small point in the original post. He said he was using 16mm casings but a 3/8" stuffer tube. 3/8" is VERY small-- only 9.5 mm! He is trying to punch it through a pinhole darn near.

  • @jonathon yep, shorter horn makes sense. I am mech. engineer and there are two big things wrong here: the 9.5mm (3/8") stuffer tube and its length. Most of the problem, probably, ALL could be solved by using the diameter stuffer tube for 16 mm casings. There is NO advantage to going smaller, just disadvantages. Pressure drop(in this case back pressure on the cylinder / piston goes up exponentially as diameter is reduced.

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  • P

    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.

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  • E

    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.

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  • K


    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??

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  • K


    Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.

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  • @Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.

    One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.

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