first time making snack sticks...opinions appreciated on how-to

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by rugercpl, Sep 11, 2014.

  1. rugercpl

    rugercpl Newbie

    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.
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Cool idea.... first check the casings and make sure they fit the stuffing tube....... Use cure #1... cure #2 is intended for meat that will not be cooked...
    I would hang and make sure the casings are dry, in the clothes line smokehouse... 100 ish degrees for an hour or 2... maybe add a fan to help the drying.... add smoke for 4-12 hours at 70-120 degrees... cold/warm smoke I guess you could call it... then the sticks will need to be cooked... I cook mine in my MES 30 for 24 hours or so at 160... final temp of 145 ish... they are usually at that temp for 6 ish hours... your sticks could be cooked in and oven after the smoke, or in the smoker if you can regulate the temp at a reasonable level.... at the lowest oven temp for several hours until they are at least 145 for an hour or two... for crinkly casings, let them cool slowly... for smooth wrinkle free (ish) casings... add to cold water to stop the cooking process..

    The lower smoking temps helps to stop the fat from melting and having fat pockets in the sticks...

    Using ECA, Encapsulated Citric Acid, the meat temp needs to get to about 130 for the capsules to break open and add the acidic tang.. Add the ECA just before stuffing....
    I would not use "plain" granular citric acid.... it does weird stuff to the meat... info for those that are reading this..
  3. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Don't use bear fat ,remove all bear fat and ask your local butcher for some pork back fat trimmings. Bear fat will ruin your sausage, pork fat should be 20-25% to your lean bear meat .
  4. rugercpl

    rugercpl Newbie

    Good to know! Why is that? Does it taste bad?
  5. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Yes bear fat will turn rancid quickly and needs to be completely removed from your steaks, trim etc. You can also add pork butt instead of straight fat at a 4-1 ratio(4 bear ,1 pork) Bear will make excellent sausage !
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014

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