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First Snack Sticks needs some advice!!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Ok so made my first attempt at snack sticks. I used 7# deer meat to 3# of ground pork. Used a a spice and cure kit with colored collagen casings. Ground mixed and stuffed the sticks all in same sittings. They turned out fair but not as I expected I'm sure my process needs a good tweak or 2. Advise,critique, pick it apart please so I can make the next batch better. There's so many of you guys/gals posts I've read with some awesome looking sticks.Deer meat is rare to screw it up. So here's the process as follows. 

Rested overnight in the fridge, then pulled out to set at room temp about an hour while I preheated the MES30 to 130*.

Put sticks in at about 7am with no smoke for an hour, then smoked for 8hrs at 130* using hickory chips.


After 8hrs bumped temp to 140* for 2hrs, then 150* for 2 hrs, then 160* for 2hrs. The sticks would never get above 135-140*. I read from several posts here of the magical temp of 150-160*. The weather here was 45-50* drizzly with a slight breeze. I don't think it effected me temp very much. Ended up letting these things go all night while waited on the IT to come up ended up pulling them off at 7am the next morning with about same IT as I left them at 2am. I used 3 different temp probes to test them all about them same temp. Here's how the looked when they came out after a 15min bath. I know I over cooked them, but I was looking for that magical temp. 

Some of the sticks look prey plump and others wrinkled fan. The part that concerns me is the sections that are light colored. Not sure what happened there, but those sections were farther away from the heat source.I did notice that the casings on the light ends was split but I'm not sure if that happened when it was cooking or in the bath or due to if they were under stuffed.

The cross section shows pretty good color but the outside of it has a grayish color ring. Not sure if that's fat out or not. The texture was chewy for the most part, and very hard on the wrinkled sticks. All together the flavor was good, just appearance and texture was displeasing. Can't complain to much for my first attempt, they could have been railroad spikes or soup tubes. LOL

Thanks in advance for all the advise, hoping the next batch will be spot on. Jason

post #2 of 9

It looks to me like you did not drive off any moisture.  I don't have / use an MES, so I'm not sure how much air you are pulling through it.  However much is it, I don't think it is even close to enough.  Did you put water in the pan?  If so, you shouldn't in the future.  You are trying to drive off moisture, not add to it. Also wonder if your thermo is accurate.  Have you validated temps at all?


Perhaps some MES guys can help you out with a few ideas.  Sticks should get a bit wrinkled and lose a good percentage of their original weight.  These were smoked at 170 for about 6 hours with as much air flow as I could get.


I hope you get some answers from MES owners.  Good luck.



post #3 of 9
redneck, morning..... I finally figured out I needed to follow nepas smoking method.... It is the same as Marianski's recommendations for smoking sausage... (low and slow)

Hang the sticks in the MES with dampers open, for good air flow, at about 100 deg.... leave them there for a few hours to dry... add smoke... I usually don't add smoke for more than 4 hours.... 2 hours is good for Bride as she likes a hint of smoke... after the smoke period, I raise the temp 10 degrees every couple hours... when the smoker temp gets to 150-160, I leave it there for the duration... usually 24 hours..... if they get to 135-140 degrees, that is adequate if they are there long enough.... It's called pasteurization... below is a pasteurization table.... here are the sticks.....

When they get to 135, I will hold them there for an hour or longer to be on the safe side.....

Temperature Time Temperature Time
°F (°C) (Minutes) °F (°C) (Seconds)
130 (54.4) 112 min 146 (63.3) 169 sec
131 (55.0) 89 min 147 (63.9) 134 sec
132 (55.6) 71 min 148 (64.4) 107 sec
133 (56.1) 56 min 149 (65.0) 85 sec
134 (56.7) 45 min 150 (65.6) 67 sec
135 (57.2) 36 min 151 (66.1) 54 sec
136 (57.8) 28 min 152 (66.7) 43 sec
137 (58.4) 23 min 153 (67.2) 34 sec
138 (58.9) 18 min 154 (67.8) 27 sec
139 (59.5) 15 min 155 (68.3) 22 sec
140 (60.0) 12 min 156 (68.9) 17 sec
141 (60.6) 9 min 157 (69.4) 14 sec
142 (61.1) 8 min 158 (70.0) 0 sec
143 (61.7) 6 min
144 (62.2) 5 min
145 (62.8) 4 min
Table C.1: Pasteurization times for beef, corned beef, lamb, pork and cured pork (FDA, 2009, 3-401.11.B.2).

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feed back here. Westby your probably right on with the moisture. Several times when I checked them they had moisture on them and my damper was not fully open. But no there was no water pan. Therms should be pretty good I can't see all three off but maybe so, ill check for sure.
Dave I tried to follow nepas method but couldn't understand why temp would get no higher than 145. I thought maybe due to lower smoker temp, and trying to avoid going over 170 smoker temp.
post #5 of 9
I think the sticks never get up to "smoker temp" because of evaporation in the sticks themselves... evaporating moisture has a cooling effect... That's what I think and I'm sticking to it... biggrin.gif The pasteurizing charts makes everything OK....
post #6 of 9

I too had this same issue with my first batch of snack sticks and after reading all this I know I didn't get all the moisture out.  Mine also wouldn't get above 142 I believe it was checking with two different thermoworks thermometers.  I will have to try again soon letting them dry out longer before raising the temp

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Sounds like were on the same boat here. Think the next batch I'll let them sit to get room temp for several hours and wipe dry any surface moisture. Then go along with nepas guideline. Think I might add a little more fat as well. They inside is a tad dry for my taste.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Think I'm going to invest an AMNPS too. Seems like they get rave reviews and the way to go for cold smoking (next project)
post #9 of 9
nepas turned me on to Amesphos for my sticks..... http://store.theingredientstore.com/amesphos.aspx

I used it in the sticks pictured...
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