Making my first batch of snack sticks!

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by justinkp, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. So my first attempt at any type of snack stick is today.  I've used my smoker so far to smoke ribs, and chicken, but this is the first time I've done anything with jerky or snack sticks.  

    Bought a jerky shooter yesterday and 19mm callogen casings from Cabela's.   Seemed kind of pricy, but what do I know, this is my first time :)  $19.99 for 3 big strands (to use for 25 lbs of meat).    Went to the local meat market and got 5 lbs of 90/10 lean ground chuck to start with. 

    Came home, mixed up a homemade recipe just to experiment with.   Black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, seasoning salt, burger seasoning, paprika, and a bit of meat tenderizer.      Among some other spices here and there that I'm not remembering.   I mixed the meat and spices real well and loaded into the jerky shooter, and stuffed the casings.  Made about 48 good sized sticks.   Started the smoker at 120 degrees.   2 hours later, up'd it to 140 and added hickory chips for smoke.   Upping about 10-20 degrees an hour.  So far they're looking good, but look like they're gonna take a while to get that deep red color though as they are still light grey in color.    Might up the temp a little more, but I don't want to cook them too fast and dry them out.

    Also debating on the "ice bath" when I take them out of the smoker when they are done cooking.  I've read where some people dump them in ice water to "prevent shrinkage",  and some just let them sit out for 2 hours before vacuum sealing.   Any suggestions?

    Really hoping these turn out well!
  2. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    debbie easton likes this.
  3. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    The ice bath is to stop the cooking process when they hit the desired temp, it does help with shrinkage a bit because of the quick cool down. Also after you cool them down leave them sit out at room temp for a couple of hours to "bloom", this is where they will really develop their color!

    Yea I agree, I think the price of collagen casings is ridiculous!!! I just bought a whole caddy just to try and save some money!

    And like FWI said, we NEED pictures!!!!
  4. [​IMG]
    Here's before they hit the smoker.
  5. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

  6. My apologies.. Newbie here!   Here they are...
  7. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Good looking sticks! Can't wait to see the finish!
    What kind of smoker are you using?
  8. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    I'm jealous and want to get into making snack sticks...i've done ground jerkey in the dehydrator but not in the smoker.  So what smoker are you using?
  9. I have a digital cookout supply co. 4 rack smoker I bought from Cabela's about 6 months ago.  The $175 version.  So far it hasn't failed me.  I went cheaper not knowing how much I'd use the smoker, but now that I'm hooked on using it, I think an upgrade is going to have to come soon!    I'll post some pics of the smoker, and the end product soon!  Just checked and my internal meat temp is at 140 so we got a little bit to go but I'm almost there! 

    This forum is a great tool and it's cool to chat with fellow enthusiasts!  
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013

  10. Here's the smoker I have.. Cookout Supply Co.  Not Masterbuilt.  My bad. 

    The sticks on the rack after the ice bath for the "blooming" process.  Gonna give them a good hour or 2 and try some out, and vacuum seal the rest!
  11. I just couldn't wait the 2 hours...  I had to try them.  The texture is soft and the meat definetely didn't dry out.  It's cooked thoroughly and has a good hickory smoke flavor to it.   For the next round, I need a bigger quanity of the spices I used, or add something for a "kick".   It's got a good flavor, but it's very mild.  Almost like a salami stick but hickory smoked.  If that makes any sense at all.   I don't like my snack sticks spicy, but I like a little taste of pepper or something in there to bring the flavor out of the meat.   Guess it's not bad for the first time.   Looking forward to trying again on the next batch! 

    Also, in regards to the casings.  I found some on amazon that are cheaper than Cabela's.  Not sure how the quality measures up.   I know I had some issues at first with these cabela's casings breaking on me when I first started stuffing them with the jerky shooter.   I had to end up doing about 4 pumps of the shooter, and then cutting the casing off, twisting, and starting again.  That got kind of timely.   Would of been a lot easier to make it all in one long sausage and then cut it down after cooking.   I probably need to get a sausage stuffer to do that instead of the jerky pistol. 
  12. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    The sticks look Great!!!
    If you like sticks like I do you will find yourself buying a stuffer!
    Instead of trying to twist the casing, just shoot a little meat into it then pinch it closed using the meat to hold it closed,a little trick I learned from a resident sausage master, nepas!
  13. I'm sure a sausage stuffer is going to be in the near future.   Since I'm sort of a business/math guy I figured out that this recipe and these sticks costs me about $3.75 a pound to make.  I guess that's not too shabby.   The local smokehouse charges $6.75 a pound, yet they're better than mine obviously.   They're so addicting you can eat a pound or 2 at a time. haha.    
  14. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I tried to get along without a stuffer and suffered greatly. Some members referred me to the LEM stuffer and boy does it make things easier. You have to measure your time and frustration levels as well as money. As for the local smokehouses being better than yours, keep researching this site and I bet you a dollar you will make theirs look  like junk!

  15. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I didnt see anywhere that you added cure?????????????? Did they get to 140 degrees in 4 hrs.... it is important they are hot smoked if you are not using cure.....You dont want anyone to get sick from e-coli
  16. I didn't add any cure.  Actually not 100% sure what cure is?   I'm a newbie.   I smoked at a lower temperature for about 3 hours total, and then up'd it to 200 and then 255 for the last 2 hours and let the sticks cook to an internal temp of 160 degrees.  When they hit 160, I ice bathed them, and let them sit out.  
  17. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    You were fine the way you did it since you hot smoked it... I buy sausage from the butcher all the time and hot smoke it but i have to get it up to temp which is 160   and above 135 with in 4 hours.  It's a food safety thing.

    Cure is nitrites and nitrates which when added in the right proportions will inhibit the bad stuff and act as a food preservative so you can cold smoke and or dehydrate the meat. 
  18. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Cure #1 and insta cure #1 are the same.MTQ is different and should not be used with cure #1 Cure #1 is used at 1 level tsp per every 5 lbs of meat.MTQ is 7.5 tsp per every 5 lbs of meat and you may have to adjust any salt in a recipe when using MTQ. I dont know what they call cures in Canada. CURES - Cures are used in sausage products for color and flavor development as well as retarding the development of bacteria inthe low temperature environment of smoked meats.Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word "cure" refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate.The primary and most important reason to use cures is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING (Food poisoning). It is very important that any kind of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature be cured. To trigger botulism poisoning, the requirements are quite simple - lack of oxygen, the presence of moisture, and temperatures in range of 40-140° F. When smoking meats, the heat and smoke eliminates the oxygen. The meats have moisture and are traditionally smoked and cooked in the low ranges of 90 to 185° F. As you can see, these are ideal conditions for food poisoning if you don't use cures. There are two types of commercially used cures.Prague Powder #1Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.Prague Powder #2Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt. (1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.)It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly.Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat.When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.
  19. Where do I purchase cure #1 from?  That seems like what I need next time if I plan on doing a cold smoke of the snack sticks.   I think hot smoking them made my first batch turn out not as good.  I only saw cures at Cabela's in the snack stick seasoning kits, and I already have my own homemade seasoning recipe, so I'd rather not buy the seasoning kits just for the purpose of the cure. 

    Thanks for all the info!
  20. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    You should be able to get cure #1 at Cabelas. Use 1 level teaspoon to 5 lbs of meat.
    Yea 200* or 225* is way to hot for sticks, use cure #1 and keep your temps below 170* and you will get a much better product.

    Boykjo gave you a very good explanation of cures. He is one of our resident sausage gurus so listen to whatever he says, I have learned a lot from him just from reading his words!

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