First batch of venison sticks. What went wrong. And now Batch 2.0

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by fredfrankbob, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Well, I am new here and hoping to hear some ideas where I went wrong.  I did a 5lb batch of venison sticks, 4lbs venison, 1 lb pork fat trimmings.  Everything went well except for the final product, taste great, did not look right, ended up with liquid pockets (assuming fat).

    So, I started my MES and set the temp to 110 degrees, hung the sticks for 2 hours, then bumped to 140 degrees with smoke for another 2 hours, finished by bumping to 165 for another two hours.  I opened up the smoker and found alot of liquid pockets and the casings did not shrink up, I tested one out and the taste was great, was not dry, but the pockets (assuming fat) are quite large and to be honest, I am sure a mouthful of that when chilled would be quite gross.  I checked the internal temps of the sticks and they ranged from 148-157, so I do not understand what went wrong.  Any help would be appreciated.
  2. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Fat renders around 180 degrees so your smoker temp must have exceeded that temp. Try putting a probe thermometer next to the sausage when you are smoking. The built in thermometers on smokers are often not accurate or not in the right vicinity for good readings.
  3. the temp control on your MES is probably not accurate.Mine isnt ! . Get a maverick ET 732 digital thermometer or something similar to monitor your smoker temp. 

    The reason you have fat pockets is the smoker was too hot and rendered the fat . You dont really want smoker temps over 180 . 

    My MES 40 is sometimes off by 15-20 degrees . I have heard some report errors even greater then that.
  4. I do know about the render temp of the fat, and I understand what likely happened, just don't understand how it happened.  I would have thought if it got that hot, the temp of the sticks would have been higher.
  5. I appreciate the input on the thermo, I know I need one, was just trying to get by without one for now, I do know I really do need one to perfect using the smoker.  Trial and error I guess, at least they are edible.
  6. in my opinion snack sticks are the hardest sausage to smoke . Their small diameter makes them easy to overcook . and if your temps get too high they  get too hot quickly
  7. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

  8. stayhot

    stayhot Smoking Fanatic

    I can attest to the MES not having an accurate thermometer. I too bought the Maverick and haven't looked back since. My smoker has at least a 15-20 degree differential at times depending on the outside temperature.
  9. SO I found my MES is off about 15 degrees according to my thermometer I put inside.  So batch 2.0 went in last night, 2.5 hours at 100 degrees (cause I got busy), followed by 2.5 hours at 140, and about 150 for 1 hour, the failure part was me not setting the timer correctly I only set the timer for 6 hours, I had been checking periodically and fell asleep, at 11:30 my alarm went off and I hopped up, went outside to check on the temp and found the temp well under 100 degrees.  I was trying to bump up the temp slowly to prevent the same rendering I had the first time. Due to the fact I had the timer to run for 6 hours I did not getting the final temp setting I needed, so two things here, one the sticks were not cooked properly, and two the fat rendered again, I can take pics and post, but the smoker never broke 165 degrees internally.  How is the fat rendering?  Seriously not real knowledgable about this type of stuff.  Are there certain areas of fat that break down at lower temps?
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  10. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    It's happened to a lot of us.  I make a lot of sticks and I like to think I've got the process down pretty well.  Identifying that you're 15 degrees off is one thing, but my MES varies in how much it's off, depending on where I set it.  For example, I'm usually right on at 225, but I'm 15 low if I set it at 165 and I'm 15 high if I set it at 250.  Go figure.

    Let's assume your meat mixture contains just enough water to stuff.  Can we assume that you're using a product with a cure?  Also, are you letting the stuffed sticks sit in the fridge overnight?  I think it firms them up and dries them out a little. That's my preference.  Your process to bring them up to temp sounds good.  6 hours sounds about right.  It's a good method.

    If you're still getting the pockets of fat, you're still too hot.  I don't think it could be anything else.  The Maverick is a great probe and I recommend it.  You can get it at AMAZEN, one of the sponsors here.  But without knowing the internal temp for sure, it's hard to guess.

    Ask 10 folks, get 10 opinions.  That's just my two cents.
  11. Yes, I use a cure, I actually used backwoods or LEM seasoning with a cure packet, the meat was ground, the pork trimmings/fat were ground while 3/4 frozen.  I mixed and let sit in a bowl covered for a night, stuffed into casings and sat another night, set out for about an hour, then put into smoker and slowly went from 100-155 internal smoker temp with a seperate thermometer, I placed the thermometer so I could open the top vent on the MES and use a flashlight to check temps, I am telling ya, the smoker never went above 165 degrees unless some crazy crap happened in the last hour it was on. I had the temp set on the display for 134 degrees and the internal temp was 155 the last time I checked it.
  12. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    I know it doesn't help, but you got me stumped.

    I like to cut my venison sticks with beef instead of pork.  Maybe something to try next time.
  13. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    ???? post some pics and we will try to help as much as possible,  
  14. rexlan

    rexlan Meat Mopper

    Is the fat actually rendering out (dripping out of the casing in the smoker) or do you have pockets (voids) in the product when you stuff it? 

    If the latter they will fill with fat in the normal course of things.  The fat will start to melt around 130° ... long before they get hot.

    I had similar issues and found that I needed to get the product to ambient temperature BEFORE putting it into the smoker.  It is is already stuffed and in the fridge overnight I remove it and let is dry and rest for 2 hours min.  Then into the smoker on a low setting to further dry and then up the temps and get the smoke rolling.  Seems if it is still cold the outer skin will start to get hot while the inside is still cold ... starts to sweat and then a mess.
  15. I will take some pics and post when I get home tonight.

    The fat is pooling and in some cases running down like 3-6 inches, as I said I will takes some pics when I get home.

    Maybe I did not let it sit long enough before putting into the smoker, but I figured by setting the smoker at 100 degrees it would not be an issue.

    I did have some air pockets, as I am using basic equipment and have not gotten a stuffer yet, my wife bought me one of those jerky guns, works to stuff, but there were a few small air pockets.  Could it be that I am not stuffing the cases tight enough?  Pictures when I get home, and a big thank you to all of you trying to help me, greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  16. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    One other thing I can think of is overworking the fat. It can happen with a dull grinder or from stuffing with a grinder. From what you are saying about fat pooling, I think your smoker temps got too high again. On your next batch have a probe thermometer right next to the sausage and keep checking your temps during the smoke. What you are stating is similar to saying "why did my ice melt"? It didn't get above 32. For some reason your temp is spiking.
  17. I appreciate the thought, but I can tell you for certain, I had a thermo inside, next to the sticks, the thermo read 155 at one time and that was as high as I saw it.  So unless the smoker went on a fritz in the last 30 mins it ran, there is no way it went that high.  Secondly I never finished these, they went in the trash due to the fact that the smoker turned off (my mistake due to the timer) before I even set them for the final 165 degrees setting.  I doubt the fat was overworked, brand new grinder, stuffed with a jerky gun/stuffer.
  18. gamehawg

    gamehawg Newbie

    Had that exact thing happen, remember the smoker comes on its on full heat.  it regulates by turning off not regulating the heat of the element.  It may have been cold causing your element to be on a lot to keep temp up.  Close off the intake so cold air won't enter and trip your thermostat.  Be patient little stix can take up to 8 hours to reach temp. 

    You can also rescue them by cutting the casing off and then use a paper towel to wipe the acumulated fat off.  They aren't perfect after that but quite edible.  
  19. I use straight venison, no cases and have had great success so far.
  20. bkleinsmid

    bkleinsmid Smoking Fanatic

    I feel for you buddy........stix can be a PITA.

    Last summer a buddy of mine came over to help me build a 25 lb batch of stix. Not knowing that we both put in the water, the meat was a bit wet. The first 5 lb in the smoker did just as yours are doing but it was water and not fat. I just let the hang in the smoker at about 100# until the water evaporated out. Stix were fine.

    The second 5 lb batch hung to dry out for about 3 hours before they went into the smoker.........almost no water at all. When they got to 152# IT, I hung them to cool. By the time they were cool they were perfect.

    I have also found that using a pin to prick the casing at an air pocket was a big help.

    I hope that this will help you......


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