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Snack Sticks w/Jerky Gun, in the Smoke Vault 24- q-view

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I had a chance to do my first un-cased beef snack sticks, and another batch of strips today. I hadn’t used the Vault for a cold smoke yet, so this was to be a closely watched process. The home-made snack sticks will be a new treat for us as well.

I didn’t have a full set of jerky grates, and that’s part of the reason for making a split batch with strips and snack sticks…I figured the sticks would be less likely to sag between the wire openings of the regular meat grates, and also, I needed to bulk-up the meat somewhat in order to be able to fit it all onto 4 grates. This looks to be a good idea...as it turns out, I used almost 3-1/2 grates to shoot all the meat onto, and approx. 55% was snack sticks, the rest strips. The jerky grate, you'll notice, is rather crowded.

I did run out of jerky grate space for the strips, as I had a 2 lb batch of regular seasoned meat for the strips and I actually need 1-½ grate spaces for that amount of strips. We’ll see how the ½ grate of remaining strips on the normal rack holds up.

The meat was mixed with seasoning and cure @ 9:00 PM last night. The snack sticks went into the Vault @ 9:00 AM this morning. The jerky strips went in @ 9:15 AM, and I estimate that they will take about 1/3 to ½ the amount of time as the sticks based on cross sectional density.

Meat, seasonings and cure is as follows: 2 lb of 85/15 for the strips, seasoned and cured with the regular jerky seasoning/cure packets contained in the Nesco/American Harvest Jerky Works kit. For the snack sticks, I had a remaining 2.6 lbs of the same meat, enough Teriaki seasoning and cure for 2 lbs, so I added 2/3 Tbls of Tender Quick and ½ tsp of fine ground black pepper to the mix.

Here they are @ 10:00 AM, no smoke wood (per wifey‘s request, as she liked the oven dried batch last time so much), @ temps of 120*, climbing to 150* (1 hr for the sticks and .75 hr for the strips. Notice the coloring on the right hand ends of the sticks...they are warming through faster, which I expected due to previous smoke observations:

With the burner on low, an added 24” chimney stack for additional draft, and the lower vents fully open, and ambient temps of 72* with no wind, she wants to run a bit hotter than I’d like to see. I will try to dial the burner setting down in the “warm” position and see how that goes…hopefully the flame will hold out with light/variable winds. The smoker is set-up with a lot of equipment and structures close-by acting as wind breaks, as well.

I did run the burner control back through the high setting over to warm and got a pretty steady 115-120* temp after about 15 minutes of fine adjustments. I’m sure this wouldn’t be possible in windy conditions, so I must have planned this on the right day for the best results, just by sheer luck.

3-½ hours in for the snack sticks, temps are still ~115-120* and things are lookin’ sweet (and spicey)...I just love it how curing agents or smoke colors the meat like this...purty:

Lessons learned thus far:

1. start out with the lowest flame setting you can keep lit, to maintain lower starting cook temps;

2. regular meat grates will work OK, but do cause some sagging once the meat starts to warm through. Some rolling/lifting may be required to release the meat at the finish. I am trying to move the meat just a bit while checking texture to help, but it is too early to carried away without risk of tearing the sticks apart.

3. the strips sag less than the snack sticks due to a lower cross-sectional density/larger surface area contacting the grate to support the meat's own weight...I hadn't thought about that one, but it does make sense now that I've seen it first hand.

4. I spyed some jerky grates for the Bradly Digital Smoker for 30 bucks per package of 4, with dimensions that would work out for 2 Bradleys per 1 Vault grate position, with a bit of spare room. I've been thinking about ordering 2 sets, to do 5 full rack positions of jerky at one time...I would need some way of supporting the 2 seperate Bradley grates while in the Vault for one (now empty) space, and I have some ideas already. Now, I am thinking that one set will be enough. More on this another day.

So far, so good!

I'll be back with the finished pics and total batch weights later.

Thanks for peekin'!

post #2 of 18
Man you are just wearing me out with all this good stuff about the vault and I have been wanting one of those for awhile now. Just haven't had the gahonnies to spend the money with work the way it is now days. You keep making me want one more and more. But your snack sticks look awesome too. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

5-3/4 hour update

I now have no worries at all about the release of the meat from the grates. The fat in the meat is rendering out nicely with the low temp long drying period, and the sticks and strips both are releasing with very gentle pressure. I guess I don't do jerky often enough, or I would have known this would happen...

On my last check @ 5-3/4 hours, the color is getting very deep and dark. Texture of the sticks is very rubbery at this point so a few more hours to get leathery, and it will be time for patting off the rendered fat, covering with towels and finish drying on the counter top @ room temp for the remainder of my waking hours. The strips are just starting to get past the rubbery stage, so another hour or so and they'll come out.

This stuff is gonna be good! They've got a really nice color starting to happen now. Temp was @ 120*:

OK, I know some people won't try to do their own jerky...but when it's this easy, why not?

Back later with the rest!


post #4 of 18
Them look great, however they seem to be flawed by not using any wood to smoke them and need further inspection (by me.) When they are dry some should be shipped to me immediately for closer scrutinizing.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sorry man! Yeah, they're a pretty darn sweet smoker to have...though your GOSM is a very capable rig, too. Don't sweat it, just hang on for things to turn around, and just make the most out what you've got right now. Trust me, I converted my 3405GW GOSM to charcoal, just for the challenge of the mod and great charcoal fired flavor.

I almost sprung for an ECB Gourmet @ $97.00...this mod costed me nothing more than a broken pilot bit for my Dewalt hole saw...about 6 or 8 buck, maybe. I did this mod to overcome my urge for the charcoal fired smokes, as they really do taste that much better. I'll still use this lil' fella (GOSM) alot now. Anyway, money's tighter around here these days too, as we've been a bit slow for over 9 months...heck maore than a year now that I think about it. It does force some lifestyle changes on a guy, like it or not, but you do what you gotta do...hang in there, man!

Thanks bud! I just couldn't resist the urge to turn out some more, they are so good.

Hah-hah! Yeah, I really frowned on the idea of not giving it a kiss of hickory for about 20 minutes. I was planning this lastnight, and was going to use hot charcoal briqs in the pan with a coal grate, just to get the smoke wood going and add a bit of heat for a cold smoke. I was going to top it all off with the gas burner for the finished forced drying. Man, that would have been REALLY good stuff with a coal fired smoke. Then, wifey had to put her $0.02, saying that my last batch (unsmoked) was the best I've ever turned out, and after she nearly begged and pleaded, I caved in...icon_redface.gif Better safe than VERY SORRY...gotta keep mama happy ya know...lol

Oh, crap, now I got to thinking about it again...I'll have to do a split batch or something next time, just so I can keep mama happy! Maybe I'll smoke the stuff for me and the kids first, and then toss in hers just for the drying phase......hmm....should work just dandy!PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

Thanks for getting my wheels spinning! Next batch will be even better, because we'll ALL be happy! LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!

I did try to send some smoke goodies a couple times via PM, but V-Bulletin is just not up to the task...I got a really nasty looking red-eyed gremlin-type creature (may have been a web-demon) on my display along with a caption "You want to do WHAT?!?!?!?" icon_mrgreen.gif LOL

Thanks guys!

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

8 hours and counting...strips are almost ready!

Things are looking mighty nice out there in the Vault. I did a texture check and the strips are nearly ready for a second pat-down for fat removal and an air dry in the house.

The sticks are still a ways off, and I tore a piece off and gave it the chew-taste test. The center is still a bit too soft for my liking, so I set the burner back to the low position for a temp of 155-160* 10 minutes after adjusting to finish the sticks.

Taste is not quite as strong as I hoped for...these are the teriaki seasoned with some black pepper added. Smoke would have been ideal for these babies...oh well...sigh....next time PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

I do plan on going straight into jerky mode head-on with the next batch and do my own seasoning and cure blend with TQ. Pepper jerky will be the theme, and I might put my slicer to work on a roast for some whole muscle jerky also...I like it better than with ground anyway.

Just shy of 8 hours here, and I'm getting happy!:

And this is a close-up of the towel after patting the top surface fat off all the strips and sticks, without removal from the grate...not much left on 'em anymore:

This is just WAY too easy folks!

Back later with the finale!

Thanks again!

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

Strips are finished and weighed-out

2.0 lbs of ground 85/15 beef and 3 oz of cure and seasonings yeilded 14.5 oz of finished jerky strips. Finished ratios are as follows: 32 oz meat + 3 oz cure/seasonings = 35 oz.: 14.5 / 35 = 41.42857% net yeild, or shrinkage/drying loss ratio: 35 / 14.5 = 2.4137931 to 1.

In theory, this process will yeild approx. 1 lb of finished product for every 2.4 lbs of 85/15 meat and the recommended seasonings/cure mix. Note: this was pre-frozen thawed ground meat.

And here it is (after about 3.5 oz were removed for tests on the lab-rats!) lol:

Taste and texture are really nice. The seasoning is mild, but then creeps up on you after a few bites and starts to come on a bit stronger. A very deep beefy flavor also, like you would expect from a dry aged steak.

Texture has a good chew, and the sticks will bend very sharply before tearing occurs. You have to pull hard to tear a piece apart. All that from ground meat...PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif big time here!

These won't last very long so I'm not worried about firing up the vac-sealer, and with the cure in the meat...no worries.

Back with the snack sticks when they're ready. Gotta check 'em again right now! icon_mrgreen.gif


post #8 of 18
Awesome smoke. Where is the OTBS below your name. How long does it take????????????????????????????????????????
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wait, Im not finished yet...lolol!

Thanks. I may have a week or 2 yet of observations on my posts before I'm tagged & bagged into the OTBS! LOL!

Snack Sticks are coming up...in just a few...weights and pics coming ASAP.

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

Snack Sticks are finished and weighed-out

1lb-5oz was the yeild for the sticks, from 2.6lbs 85/15 GB & 4.2 oz seasonings & cure mixture. The net yeild is 21oz. Ratios for these are: 41.6 ox meat + 4.2oz seasonings/cure mix = 45.8oz. 21 / 45.8 = 45.85152838%, or 45.8 / 21 = 2.18095238 to 1. In theory, every 2.18 lbs of 85/15 GB/cure/seasoning mix will yield approx. 1 lb of snack sticks.

Taste and textures are very, very similar. The core has a slight softness with a chewy exterior. I'm guessing the addition of black pepper put it over the top and leaned more towards the flavor of the original jerky seasoning mix in the kit. Though you can taste a slight touch of soy sauce...it's actually pretty tasty.

I did crowd the forced drying a bit, as towards the end, my temps were pushing 165* accidentally, but no harm done. After the 10th hour, no air drying to finish was needed...these are ready for snackin'!

To dry the fat off of the sticks, I used a rolling pin motion, with 2 layers of paper towels on top and bottom...just roll back and forth with a little downward pressure and the fat was history...very COOL.

Sticks, just off the scale:

And bagged up...13 oz for the house (me mostly), 8oz for my college boy for next week...he'll head back to the dorm in an hour:

So that's it for this round. It's been fun, but now, I'm done!

Thanks all!

post #11 of 18
Thanks for another great qview!
post #12 of 18
Excellent looking finished product Eric, and thanks for the weigh-in on the stix's. Last year I checked and posted that I had a lose of 22% and I thought they weren't dry enough. I think I'll shoot for something closer to your 50% and see what happens.
Thanks for the pic loaded Q-view.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
You're welcome! I enjoyed every minute of it!

Thanks Dan, I figured someone might find the weights useful for a guideline...the q-view's just another part of the fun!

Hmmm.....yeah, you should be looking for the meat to go from a rubbery/pliable texture to a leathery feel and bend...that's when it's getting closer to being ready for a final patting-down for fat removal. That's where you can get a better idea about the feel of it.

I look for a fair amount of bend before it breaks. That's where I removed these from the heat and commenced with weighing...they didn't need any additional air drying at this point.

I did some jerky this winter that was super-dry...if I recall it was only about 35% of the starting weight...almost crispy...this was uncured, seasoned and lightly smoked...probably would have had a 3-4 week shelf life aty room temp, it was that dry.

Good luck on your next jerky session & don't be bashful about questions.

Thanks guys!

post #14 of 18
Great job Eric, thanks for the Qview, man they look great.PDT_Armataz_01_37.gifWouldn't let me give you points.icon_surprised.gif
post #15 of 18
great step by step...you always do tho.PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #16 of 18
Great lookin sticks!!!!
Did you get an internal temp. on the stix???? I believe they are supposed to hit 152 to be done. I been doin research for when I give it a try.
You deserve points if it will let me give them!!!!!!points.gif
post #17 of 18
Great Looking Stix, excellent step by step & Qview...points.gif
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Ron! Yep, too soon, eh? Gotta spread alittle around first...heh-heh!

Thanks, I do have fun when I cook, I guess the pics tell the story the best!

Thanks! They're too small to get internals, so you go by look & feel...I do try to bump the chamber/rack temps up to at least 16)* before I pull 'em and let 'em hang out in that for about 30 minutes...this is cured meat so I take some extra time putting the heat to 'em.

Thanks! Got another round of strips to do on Thursday (9.5# GB per the label & seasoning/cure) while I burn a butt & spares...gonna be a killer day! HAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!

I guess it won't be long and you'll be able to call all of us here (including our friends) jerky junkies...I haven't made batches this close together...EVER...or quite this big of batches.

BTW: I just finished eating about 1.5# of finished sticks in 2 days... icon_redface.gif

Can you get sick and die from cured liver/kidneys? If you can, then I surely will, but I'll die a happy smoker!!! LOL!!!

Thanks guys!!!!!! Been fun!

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