Encapsulated Citric Acid questions

  • My question regards the use of ECA…Tomorrow, I will be grinding and mixing and stuffing 100 lbs of product for Summer Sausage and snack sticks for Christmas presents, however saturday and sunday will be dedicated to smoking and packaging.
    I’ve been doing this for awhile and never used ECA for my stuff, but decided to give it a whirl (I will only be using it on (1) 25 pound batch of snack sticks). With cleanup being the worse part of all of this, I do not want to dirty up my mixer again on saturday morning.
    I know that re-grinding with the ECA is a no-no and I have no intentions of doing that anyways. However, if I do not over mix the meat and keep it super cold when doing so, is it entirely possible that there will be no issue with the ECA dispersing into the meat before I actually get around to smoking it, and if so, if it’s already in the casings, what can actually happen to the final product if it indeed does?

  • Walton's Employee

    @matt93 Great question, sadly I don’t have a great answer! The issue is that you might be totally fine or you might end up with a dry and crumbly product. It will all depend on if the casing of the citric acid breaks down or not. Now, I did an experiment here a few days ago where I had a hot cup of water and a cold one and I added the Encapsulated Citric Acid(ECA) to both of them. Immediately the hot one started to dissolve the cottonseed oil that is used to Encapsulate the Citric Acid and within a minute the water was very tangy. After a few minutes, the cold water had some tang but nowhere near the same amount as the hot one. Even the next day there was only a slightly tangy taste to it, which to me meant that most of the encapsulation held.

    I would say that there is a chance that you will process with no major issues. The most important thing you can do to ensure this is to keep everything as cold as possible when dealing with ECA, and when you are mixing in the ECA add it during the last 60 seconds.

    Obviously I am not guaranteeing anything and you might end up ruining the batch. What will happen is the acid will release to soon and denature your product causing it to be dry and crumbly.

    My suggestion would be that even though clean up is a pain that you do that one batch the same day as smoking to ensure everything comes out correct!

  • Thanks you for the quick response, Jonathon…Interesting experiment that you performed; it would stand to reason that under normal circumstances that the cottonseed oil doesn’t break down until it reaches a temperature of 130 F, therefore keeping the temp down would be paramount in keeping it intact until the final stage of smoking/cooking.
    Cleaning up the mixer and stuffer is such a pain in the ass which is why we always try to do a minimum of 50 lb batches when it’s possible. I might just try it and see what happens. Protein extraction is so critical, so not sure how easy its going to be to mix in the ECA in the last 60 seconds without rupturing the oil casing…Quite the dilemma, and I hate wasting any meat.
    The mixer I bought that attaches to my grinder has made life SO much easier and I wouldn’t trade it for the old method of hand mixing, especially when doing 25 pound batches product.
    One more question: How quickly does the ECA permeate the product when it does rupture, and is there any real difference between letting it sit for a few hours before smoking, or going immediately from stuffer to smoker? I tend to overthink these things.

  • Walton's Employee

    @matt93 Yes, keeping it cold is going to be your best bet here without a doubt. Adding ECA during the last 60 seconds of mixing is always best practice, and that might be where you run into the real issue. I still say there is a chance that it is okay. You might get some breaking from the mechanical energy of the paddles but hopefully, it won’t be too much!

    I do all of the cleaning here of equipment when we are done with videos (@Austin always feels bad about that!) but I honestly don’t mind it, pop on a podcast and I am good to go!

    There won’t be a real difference between letting it sit for a few hours and going directly to the smoker, the only real issue will be if some of the encapsulation broke from the mixing. As for how quickly it permeates that’s 100% dependent on how well it is mixed into the meat.

    ECA needs to be at 135° for about an hour before it totally breaks down.

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Recent Posts

  • @Joepingel That would be correct, the 22mm tube is too big for the 30mm casing, it will fit the 32mm collagen but not the 30. You can check out a chart that shows you what tube to use with what casings (https://meatgistics.waltonsinc.com/topic/187/what-size-stuffing-tube-to-use-sausage-casing-size-chart) that Austin made a few years ago. Please let me know if you saw incorrect information somewhere on either meatgistics.com or waltonsinc.com and I will get that fixed.

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  • H

    Thanks Jonathon. I pan fried the sausage in a cast iron skillet (my “go to” for the stove) on low heat actually. I could not believe there was no moisture in that skillet. The sausage really was great (Holly), beautifully brown. I was very surprised at no rendered fat, but it is very pleasant to experience a sausage patty that is not greasy. I thought I did something wrong lol.

    Yeah, goat is lean. I will be going the route of adding pork fat, or mixing in some ground pork. I will have to read up on the other options you have suggested as they are new to me. I like to keep my food as “natural” as possible. I do appreciate the assist here.

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  • @homesteader57 When making a fresh sausage like breakfast sausage adding water isn’t necessary and you’d only need to do it to help mix in the seasonings and additives. I personally don’t add water to breakfast sausage or bratwursts. Did you stuff this into a casing or did you make loose breakfast sausage and cook it up in a pan? Either way, I’ve never heard of no fat rendering out when cooking a breakfast sausage, can you give me a little more information on how you cooked it? In a pan over high heat I am assuming, was it cooked at the highest heat? Cast Iron or something else?

    I am going to be very interested to see what happens when you make Brats out of the goats. I’ve never done it but I am pretty sure goat is low in fat content. For brats you want your fat content to be around 75/25 so you will have to add some pork fat if you can. If you don’t want to add pork fat then you can try what I have been doing with lower fat meats. When I have made Chicken Brats I have been using Cold Phosphate to increase the water holding capacity of the meat. I’d also recommend you use a binder like Sure Gel or Super Bind or a moisture retender like Carrot Fiber. Using both of those seems to be the best bet to get a nice juicy product out of a lower fat meat.

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  • @scott-williams First, I’d recommend you use a binder like Sure Gel or Super Bind or a moisture retender like Carrot Fiber. This is always the first thing I recommend when someone has an issue with the texture of their sausage.

    Your fat content is correct and it sounds like you used the correct amount of seasoning. 190° is a little higher than I would recommend, but we have all been there when it’s just taking too long so you dump it a little more than you really should! I don’t think that is the issue but check out this post titled Summer Sausage Nightmare specifically @Parksider’s response to finishing it up in water. It’s a good tip and I am going to be doing some tests on it here to verify a few things.

    What I think probably caused your issue was the mixing in some way. When adding pork fat to your venison I think the best time to add it is during the second grind, it’s possible that your fat didn’t really mix in well with the venison, that would explain why it seemed dry even though you had the correct fat content.

    It also could have been lack of protein extraction, I looked through your posts and can’t tell if you have a mixer or are mixing by hand? With cured sausages, I always recommend using a meat mixer as getting the right level of protein extraction. I am guessing that you had some fat out where the fat renders and cooks out of the product.

    Hope this helps!

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  • J

    I made my first batch of brats last night and was using the 30mm collagen casing, but I could not get it to fit on the 22mm tube. I used instead the 16mm tube. I am just curious about what I was doing wrong. I have the 11lb vertical stuffer.

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  • @papasop Sorry, I didn’t catch that you said by the switch initially.
    I see the same thing now. Weird thing is that the Pro Series also says the same thing. If you couldn’t use any of them for more than 5 seconds in reverse, that would be odd, because then nothing would work well with the meat mixers.
    I’m getting some questions sent to the manufacturer. I’ll let you know if they can clarify further.
    I’ve used both the Pro and Butcher series grinders with the reverse on for more than 5 seconds, and used them to mix a lot of meat, so my initial thought is that it is fine to do on mixing, but maybe just not when the grinder head, auger, plate/knife, etc. is attached. Meat is the “lubricant” for all that when grinding, so in reverse for too long and the meat not being pushed through everything could cause problems.

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