Venison links not taking smoke

  • We have been processing a variety of venison sausages for a few years with great results. For the first time, however, we had an issue with the casings taking on the smoke. They remained opaque white on many of the links and patchy on others.

    The sausage was mixed with 50% pork, seasonings, just under 4 liters of water and carrot fiber per 25 lb batch. We used the 32-35 mm tubed hog casings, stuffed the links and stored in refrigeration overnight. The sausage was then hung in smoker running through a drying cycle at 100 for about 2-2.5 hrs until tacky and no longer sweating, then smoked at about 160. After two hours of smoking most of the links appeared to be sweating some and white. The sausage reached temperature and was removed, ice bathed and hung. After the second batch of this issue, I hung the third batch of refrigerated links to air dry some prior to adding to the smoker. The third batch took the smoke better, but was still not up to par. It tastes good, has a nice texture and deep red color. The casings look unappealing, however.

    In previous batches we have not used carrot fiber. The meat was mixed with seasonings, water and set in meat lugs to cure overnight. Then sausage was then stuffed and run through the same process in the smoker. I am wondering if one of the changes we made might have caused this issue; carrot fiber, too much water, the stuffed links being stored overnight? Or am I having issues with my smoker?

    Thank you for any insight!

  • Walton's Employee

    @KellyJordet I spoke with our application specialist about this and he says if you are really getting a tacky surface then the issue is most likely your smoker no producing enough smoke. He also said that a possibility is that the outside is too dry and doesn’t recommend that you dry them for 2.5 hours. We’d also recommend that you not jump right up to 160° instead step it up in stages. Start at 120 for an hour then 140 for about and hour then to 160 and finally at 175 until it reaches 160°

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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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