Goose Snack Stick Issue

  • Hey Guys! Last weekend we made 25 pounds of canada goose snack sticks. They did not turn out the best and I am not sure why. We started by grinding the breasts and added 4 pounds of pork fat. We mixed the meat with hi mountain sweet and spicy snack stick seasoning and added 2 pounds of high temp cheese then Stuffed it all in to collagen snack stick casings. Ran out of time so they sat in the refrigerator over night. The next morning i put them on the traeger. Started on smoke (150 ish) for 3 hours and then moved up to 180 until the sticks reached 160. The casings were pretty hard, almost had a crunch. They were way harder to cut through than any snack stick I have had before. The meat inside was kind of mushy and broke apart. If you cut the stick long ways the meat inside would fall apart. Any Ideas where we went wrong? Thanks!!!

  • Walton's Employee

    @jaketeal Hi Jake, did you use encapsulated citric acid or another cure accelerator? The reason I ask is that you pointed out that you held them overnight and if you didn’t use any type of cure accelerator then holding it overnight is what you are supposed to do, to allow the cure time to work. If you used Citric Acid and held it overnight then there is the chance that the encapsulation broke and started the acid started interacting with the meat too soon. This can cause some consistency issues, though normally it is a dry and crumbly edge, not a mush, that is possible too.

    The next thing I would guess is that you have a protein extraction problem, people who read all the “what went wrong?” posts on here must be tired of reading me say that but it’s so often the issue! You want to mix, in a meat mixer until you have the proper level of protein extraction, this binds the protein, fat, water and any other additives together. For a good example of what proper protein extraction looks like go to the 1:20 mark of this video , the entire thing is worth watching but that will show you what your meat should look like.

    Another question would be what temp was the meat at when you were processing it? It could also be that your meat was denaturing and the proteins were all breaking apart, nothing would have saved it at that point. Before grinding your meat should be as cold as possible, ice crystals just starting to form is the perfect temp. As a bonus cold meat also grinds and stuffs better, this is especially true on products that are going to get a second grind like snack sticks.

    Also, we always recommend Excalibur Seasonings and not just because that is what we sell! Excalibur has an incredibly high standard of processing and a bad batch from them without the correct salt content is unbelievably rare.

    With cooking, it sounds like what happened in the end is you got case hardening. Tons of things could have caused this but what happens is the outside ring of the meat cooks and hardens and it will not pass any more heat to the inside of the meat, it holds and even deflects it instead of passing it along into the center of the meat. Not sure what Traeger you were using but adding a water pan, or another way of introducing humidity, is a good idea that will speed up cook times and give you a more moist product.

    Lastly, (I know, finally right?!) pellet grills are notorious for having cold spots and hot spots, so unless you were rotating them you absolutely could have had some spots that were 15-20° cooler than others! I took the Grilleye and mapped out my pellet grill so I know where to avoid or when I have a full grill where I need to rotate.

    If you want to give me more of your process I can try to see what else it might have been?

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    Yes… sure cure and sure gel binder. The venison and pork fat were both still partially frozen when I ground them. First through the large course plate, then again through the small plate. (Not sure of sizes, but these are the plates i normally use for summer sausage). I probably should have put the meat back in the freezer before seasoning but i was pressed for time. I mixed by hand for 14 or 15 minutes. I also think I might have added to much water. The video said 2 quarts for wild game 2 pints for fatty pork. I put in 1 quart and about another cup. I mixed until it got tacky and then mixed some more. The meat seemed soupy to me but the video said that would be ok.
    The shriveling occurred before I bumped the temp up. I was using a digital thermometer with a probe, when the temp stalled for a couple hours, I suspected the temp might be reading inaccurately so I opened the door to confirm with a dial thermometer. The digital was accurate but the sausage was already shriveling.
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