Help..snack stick disaster



  • I am making stick. 10 lbs deer and 15 lbs beef. I corse ground once then fine ground. Mixed spices by hand until meat was sticky. I mixed in con yager spices , cure , carrot protine binder (4 OZ) ,water and after all was mixed well I added hi temp cheese and ECA (3oz). Now… I worked on this all day long , so once I got everything mixed I was exhausted so I put it in the fridge to stuff the next day. next morning I stuffed it into the 22 mm casing, dipping meat occasionally into cold water to help it get through the stuffer. I put it in the oven starting it at the lowest setting which is warm , temp reached 150. I did this for 2 hrs then upped it to 170 for 1 hr then 180 until the stick reached 156
    to 160 internal temp. To make a long story short. I just wasted 2 days of my life to make dog treats. I don’t know what happened. The casing blew open in the oven. It looked like sausage. No color at all. Casing and meat was brown like sausage. Seemed to be cooked. It was real wet. The casing broke and was hanging off of the stick. Ive made stick before and this never happened. This is the first time I’ve ever made it with a binder and ECA. What happened? I still have half of my batch in the fridge. I wanted to see if anyone had an Idea to what I did wrong before I cook the 2nd batch. 2 things I thought maybe went wrong was… I didn’t use enough cure. I read 1 tsp for every 5 lbs of meat. I used 5 tsp. And I put it on the fridge after putting the ECA in it. I seen that your supposed to stuff and cook right away. But I don’t see how it would ruin it. I don’t know. Im stummped. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks



  • The ECA is where you went wrong. ECA is a cure accelerator which means right after you get done mixing your ingredients you hurry and stuff into casings and immediently go into your cooker. If you hold your meat overnight and try cooking it, its going to be terrible and theirs no real way out of it. The stuff you have in your fridge now should be thrown out so you dont waste your time. The oven temp of 150 degrees is pretty high to start out with, but it should end up ok. Maybe just prop the door open a little bit during the first few hours. All in all it sounded like you did most everything good. Just the ECA ended up screwing it up for you.


  • Walton's Employee

    @wendy Other than holding it overnight when using ECA, which it sounds like you know you shouldn’t do, and like @lamurscrappy said starting at 150 is higher than ideal, nothing pops out at me as an obvious enormous issue. If I had to guess I would say that the encapsulation of the citric acid ruptured, either through holding it overnight or mixing it too much when you added it and it denatured the proteins. When that happens you usually get a dry and crumbly product though so that might not have been the only thing going on here. When you sadid you were dipping the meat in cold water when stuffing, what exactly were you doing? The 1 tsp per 5 lb is for our Sure Cure, thats might not the same as the one you used. This is why we recommend Exalibur, premixed seasonings!

    The casings issue could absolutely have been too much water and starting at 150 degrees. That could pop your casings, you said 22mm so i am assuming it is sheep?



  • I used the collagen casing. I figured it had something to do with the ECA. Its a real bummer. Lots of work, the and money wasted. Should of done more homework first. And to answer the dipping in cold water, I was using a kitchen Aid mixer. Lol… The meat was so sticky with the cheese it wouldn’t go through the tube so I found with it dipped in ice water a bit (just like the tip) it made a world of difference. But I thank you all for the helpful advice and info. IF I try this again I will just buy you pack of season. That is too much work to screw it up.



  • @jonathon what’s the the maximum time before cooking you can hold a meat mixture with eca



  • @wendy Sorry I am late to the conversation. I make at least two, twenty five batches of snack sticks every week and sometimes quite a bit more. I use ECA and carrot fiber in 80% of those batches and have never had an heavy acidic or vinegar flavor from ECA. I have held batches for up to 24 hours and even though it does change the texture slightly they typically good enough for friends and family :). Any time I have had casings blow open has been from too much heat and as soon as the meat is exposed to the direct heat it gets a sausage consistency because the moisture cooks away very quickly. It also turns brown even if I am using the smoker instead of the oven. Any time I have had serious flavor issues it can be traced back to my meat block. I always save out some of the uncooked product that is left in the stuffer and vacuum seal it so I can refer back it if the batch doesn’t turn out as expected. I am curious about your ratio of vension and beef as I didn’t see anything relating to fat content. Did you add additional pork or beef fat? I have purchased beef and pork fat from grocery stores that were not handled properly and produced odd flavors. Would really like to help but need more detail to really get to the root of the problem.



  • I just realized I replied to different snack stick conversations. Ignore the part about the acidic or vinegar taste.



  • @vjbutler Soooo, your telling me I shouldn’t have thrown the rest of it away . I have never had that happen. And that is what happened. The casing broke and it seemed to me it cooked. The texture and taste of the meat was right. But it had no flexibility to it. If you bent it just a bit it would break just like cooked sausage… I mixed 10 lbs of venison and 15 lbs of beef. Which beef was mostly fatty roasts, and some ground. I thought it got too hot to but I couldn’t get the oven any cooler. I had it set to the warm setting which reading 145 150. And I can’t prop my door cause it has a open door alarm that will shut the oven off after a while.


  • Walton's Employee

    @Chicovt My recommendation would be don’t hold it at all or you run the risk of what happened to @wendy however if you are in a bind and need to hold it then I would say after 3-4 days you should toss it for food safety. The problem is that there is no good way to test whether the encapsulation broke or not. If you really wanted to check to see if it was worth going through the long process of smoking the snack sticks you could cook one up in a pan to get a basic idea of what it would taste like.

    @wendy I probably would not have thrown it out just because you put a lot of work into it. Worst case scenario you can always keep it as just a ground product and add it to things like tacos or stirred vegetable dishes.



  • @jonathon thanks
    Do you have a recommendation for a vertical smoker that I would be able to control temperature for snack sticks well
    I have a trager but I can’t hang in it I can only put on grates and heat is to direct



  • @chicovt I do mine on a Traeger with the door propped open with a 2x4 for an hour or so and then on smoke setting until 155. I do 10 lbs of snack sticks, 5 lbs on each shelf side by side actually touching and as much summer as I can fit under the additional rack. Just keep it away from the edges where the heat comes up. Last batch was great and pretty even,y cooked



  • @scott-steinocher do you keep dial strictly on smoke for the first hr
    I did smoke then increase to lowest setting
    Roll on the right got a bit scorched
    Also I had a bit of fat out as well
    I will try next time with door proped open
    Still looking for a vertical so I can hang
    0_1545875049402_DC3AA242-D1CE-46BE-8F16-5A0967CC3D4C.jpeg


  • Walton's Employee

    @chicovt It depends on what you want to spend! If you okay with the price tag I can recommend the PK-100 from Pro Smoker with total confidence! It is what I smoke/cook 90% of the stuff I make here. It will start at 60° and go all the way to 250°, obviously, it won’t generate smoke at 60° but I’ve seen it start to smolder as low as 120°. It is VERY well insulated…I could go on and on about how much I like it but you could read all of that in my expert review on the web page!

    If you have a pizza stone or some other ceramic piece you could place it underneath your grates and that will give you a heat deflector and be able to somewhat get indirect heat.



  • @chicovt pit boss makes a nice vertical pellet smoker about $500 at walmart.



  • I make them all the time with ECA…I just put them on my RecTec at the lowest smoke setting of 180 and smoke them until they hit 160… they come out delicious. Sometimes I have to cook half and let the other half sit in the fridge as I do 25 lbs at a time. I don’t mess with all the different temp times and no one complains. I would cook them at 180 and try them before throwing them out



  • @chicken-arty thanks for the tip



  • @chicovt If you are trying to keep the price down, I’d recommend the Masterbuilt 40-inch electric smoker that you can pick up for less than $400. Then you can add some smoker sausage hangers (about $11 each) - they lay across a rack and have hooks to hang from below). I have 2 of those plus a bacon hanger, that I used last weekend when making venison summer sausage.

    0_1546628841185_meat2.jpg


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