I will be taking a bear soon and will have at least 50 lbs of meat to use. I want to make sticks out of most of it. I purchased a 5# stuffer and 5/8" collagen casings. I also purchased Fermento and encapsulated citric acid to try both side by side. I will be using Uncle Abes Hot Jerky seasoning and instacure (#1 or #2 im not sure yet). My proposed method of smoke/cook/drying them may sound funky but I hope you all can help me make it work. I am going to list what process I am proposing to use. Feel free to dissect it, trash it, praise it, do whatever we have to do to modify it to make it safe and effective......
grind cold meat through an electric meat grinder and 3/16ths plate with a target 15%-20% fat content (fat from the bear)
mix in Uncle Abes Hot Jerky seasoning and either citric acid or Fermento with the cold ground meat
(if using Fermento...refridgerate the meat mixture for at least 24 hours after its been mixed)
stuff 5/8" collagen casings with a 5# stuffer and a 1/2" stuffing tube.
This is where the funk comes in....I am planning on building a mock-smokehouse around a firepit using 2x4's and tarps...basically like a 8' x 8' x 8' shelter with a smouldering fire in the middle. To hang the meat...I am going to plant a clothes drying tree in the shelter centered over the fire and hang the sticks like you would hang clothes to dry. With some practice and patience beforehand, I'll use thermometers to see what temperatures I can achieve and maintain inside the mock-smokehouse.
Where I need the most advice is.....Should I use the citric acid or Fermento? Instacure #1 or #2? What temperature should the smokehouse be? and how long should I hang the sticks in there and what should the target internal temperature of the sticks be? After hanging the sticks in the smokehouse, should I hang and age them additionally in another environment to further cure and dry? I"m not looking to rush any part of the process. If it takes days....then thats fine. I don't have a premeditated idea of how they should taste or how the texture should be. I think my main goal is to have a good product that is more shelf-stable than most sticks either from the cure and lower pH, or from an extended aging and drying time. If I can do this succesfully, I should be able to do A LOT of sticks all at once.
Thanks in advance for your advice and knowledge.