First Time Smoke Today.....Venison Summer Sausage

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by craig sexton, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    So, I lost my "virginity" today as a smoker. Two weeks ago I bought a MB propane XL unit on sale at Gander Mountain. Seasoned it twice, and finally got around to stuffing 18 lbs of venison summer sausage last night. One batch of regular summer sausage and one batch of jalpeno. Thanks to several on here for help through that as well!!

    All went OK today. I started out around 140F for a couple hours. I started the smoke after 30 minutes and continued it for about 3 - 3 1/2 hours. I may cut this back a little next time :) Then I moved the heat up to 180F. At the last 1 hour I had to bump the heat up to 200 as the internal temp had stalled at 140-145. Then it took about another hour to hit 165F per the LEM instructions. But, I'm not 100% the door thermostat is correct. I'll be buying another electronic probe to serve as chamber temp soon.

    The sausages were stuffed well and full. I also used hog rings to securely bind the end. But, I may go the 12" log length in the future as they hang fairly low in the smoker. And, I did notice the bottoms of a few getting a darker tint to the fibrous casings. I assume this was due to the heat.

    All was going directly to plan until I pulled them out and immediately put them into a LEM meat lug bucket of ice water. They began to shrivel quite a bit. After they hit 120F, I dried them off and hung them back in the "cooled" smoker for a few hours. Now the reside in the fridge and will go into the freezer tomorrow.

    I cut two of them open and saw the meat was  a nice pink. Taste test proved that I had succeeded!! Yay for me. I was truly worried about ruining 15 lbs of venison. 

    So, why did they shrivel so much? You'll notice in a few pics that it was either at the bottom or even in a "ring" fashion around the sausage. Did I overheat them and render some fat out? Or, was it just the excessive heat at the bottom?

    Thanks for all help.


    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
    tjmitche and crazymoon like this.
  2. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Craig, I would say that the shrivel is from too high a temp and too long in the smoker. I try not to exceed 170 when doing SS and remove when my internal temp reaches 154-155. It is alright if your sausage hits a stall as you have cure in the mix. Low and slow is the key, Your sausage looks tasty and I'll take some off your hands if you don't want it !
  3. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    Thanks CrazyMoon. Overall, I'm very happy with it. And, the taste is great. Next time I'll be more prepared with better internal chamber temp controls. Slow and steady will be the goal :)

    Just one question though. The sausages didn't shrivel up until I dunked them in the ice water. They were plump and pretty in the smoker. Is this normal if cooked to hot? Or, was the ice cold water a factor as well? I wasn't sure If I'd been better off to put the "cool" water and not ice cold. And, to bring the IT down slower instead of the "shock" from the ice water.

    Thanks for the input.

    Seasons Greeting,

  4. tjmitche

    tjmitche Smoke Blower

    Nice job on the first smoke. I had the same thing happen last week on a batch we did with 20 inch chubs in my master forge.  (See my post with pics). 

    I'm convinced two things caused the bottoms to shrivel.

    1) Chubs were too long for the smoker, thereby exposing the bottoms to more heat than the tops. Over the 11 hr cook the fat rendered out of the bottoms.  Taste was nearly as good, but not as aesthetically pleasing.

    2)  I got too impatient when the internal temps stalled at 144.  It was getting late and I was tired so I cranked it up to 180 to speed things up.  This contributed to the same symptoms listed above.

    Next time I'll bake in more time. I'll just ride out the stall and keep the smoker temp steady at 170.  I also plan to cut down the chub length to 10-12 inches to keep the heat a little further from the meat.  I think I can fit just as much in with shorter chubs as it will free up more lateral space.  

    Note: all of the above comes from great feedback and advice given by guys a whole lot smarter than me on this forum... :[​IMG]

    Great job, right out of the gate!


  5. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    Thanks T.

    Yep, I'm really happy with the results. Taste is great, appearance....well, it lacks a little to be desired :)

    I'm already making plans for my new year's batch. I will most definitely do the chubs in 8" lengths. I too believe mine was hanging too low as well.

    BTW, tonight is Beer Bratt night. First time stuffing these babies as well. I'll just freeze these and smoke them when ready to eat. :)
  6. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I was wondering about this!  Glad to hear that you got them completed and like the end results!  It looks good to me from here!

    As others have said, the bottoms were probably too close to the heat and got a bit over done.  Also, you probably had a "fat out" at least at the ends.

    SS can take HOURS to get done.  I've gone over 20 hours in the past, and when they hit a stall temp (usually 140-145) they seem to take forever to get going again.

    As for shriveling of the casings, you'll almost always have some, but I've been able to minimize mine by doing the following:

    Preheat the smoker to 120

    Hang the chubs in the smoker without smoke for 2 hours at 120

    After the 2 hours, bump the temp up to 130 and add smoke

    Each 30 minutes after that, bump the temp up 10 degrees until you hit 170 degrees in the pit

    Allow the chubs to continue to smoke/cook until you hit 152 degrees internal (USDA say 160, but they don't reference cured meats)

    After hitting the target internal temp, drop into an ice water bath until the IT gets below 100 degrees.

    Now, you'll have some shriveling, but this will help minimize it.  Also, make sure you are soaking your casings before you use them.
  7. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    CS, As CB said your cooling is only to drop the temp down ,I've read 100 to120 and then allow to bloom on the kitchen shelf out of drafts for hours. I have seen my SS swell back up a bit during the blooming so maybe part of your shriveling was from excessive cooling ??
  8. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    Thanks for both replies!

    CB, I'll try your listed instructions on my next batch. I've already ordered a needle valve and another temp probe for more accurate temp control of the chamber.

    CM, I did rehang them for blooming after the ice water bath. But, they didn't swell back any :( Oh well, live and learn. Hey, they still taste good :)

    Thanks again and Merry Christmas to you both and the entire group at SMF.

  9. tjmitche

    tjmitche Smoke Blower

    Which needle valve did you order? I've got about 3 different ones saved on Amazon.  Just haven't pulled the trigger yet.
  10. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    I bought this one from Amazon. I think it's one that others have recommended here. [​IMG]

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  11. tjmitche

    tjmitche Smoke Blower

    Thanks Craig,

    Let us know how it works out!

  12. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie


    I was able to finally get my needle valve assembled this afternoon. Overall, I'm really pleased with it. It can cut the flame in half from the standard knob on the lowest setting. But, it still has the full power flow if needed. I ended up spending more than I thought I would on the fittings and such as I got them all at Lowes with a 5' extension. I'd suggest going to a hardware store that has gas/propane fittings.

    Here's pics.

    Flame on lowest setting BEFORE needle valve

    Flame on lowest setting AFTER needle valve

    Flame on highest setting AFTER needle valve

    And, the finished piping agglomeration / concoction

    Now I'm ready to put those baby back ribs on this weekend 😄

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
  13. tjmitche

    tjmitche Smoke Blower

    Awesome upgrade!
    My son in law got me the needle valve for Christmas. Now just gotta get the connectors/adaptor and hook it up.
    I'll post back some pics when done.
  14. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    Well, it looks like I did over cook the chubs on my first time around. I'm smoking some ribs now and using my new dual probe thermostat. Wow, my door probe is 21-25 F under on the reading. So, when I was shooting for 175F I was smoking at 196-200F. I can't wait till the next sausage run. I bet they come out looking nice.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  15. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looking forward to seeing your next cook!

    Good move on the remote therm, you'll love it.
  16. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    That thermometer is awesome. Combined with the needle valve assembly, I was able to tinker in the basement and not run back and forth all day while cooking my first set of ribs. They were awesome too.

    Now the wife is getting into it as well. She's already planning on a Boston butt next😃

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  17. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ya gotta love it when it becomes a family event! Looking forward to more from you soon!

    I'm starting ribs at 4 this afternoon so we can eat around 11. The wife is making a roasted cabbage dish and some cornbread. We have some friends coming to town and I'm planning a late supper for them.
  18. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This is way better than my first smoke! I think you are going to be a star, Craig!

  19. craig sexton

    craig sexton Newbie

    Disco, flattery will get you everywhere! :)

    But, all joking aside I could not have done any of this without all the great posts that I reviewed here first. What a wealth of information on this board. I can't wait for our endeavor, a Boston Butt. I'll be sure to post back here then :)

    Thanks again to everyone for the help.
  20. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I know exactly what you mean. I hadn't found this site when I first got a smoker. I struggled until I got to SMF and have had a lot more fun since.

    Keep posting!


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