First time sausage making (venison sticks)

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Original poster
Dec 21, 2010
I finally had a chance to make my first sausage over the weekend and got them in the smoker today.  Mixed 8lbs of venison with 2lbs of pork belly.  They came out pretty good but not great.  I'm not sure if it is too much smoke or just the seasonings that I wasn't crazy about.  I used a kit from Con Yeager that came with 24mm casings, I will definitely try 21mm and another type of mix next time.

I just have a cheap brinkman electric smoker without any type of heat control so I ended up with about 3 1/2 hours of smoke time to get them to 160 degrees.  The only major problem I had was with the grinding.  The directions with the kit said to coarse grind then mix in the spices and 2 cups of cold water with the meat and grind again with the fine plate.  Well the water turned the meat to mush and it wouldn't go through the grinder so I had to re-freeze the meat.

Even after re-freezing it wouldn't grind right so I don't know if it's a problem with the grinder or if the water screwed it up that bad.  It's a brand new Weston #32 hand grinder.  Next time I'll skip the water until after the fine grind and see how that works.  Anyways, here's a picture of the finished product.  Everyone that has tried them has said they were good but they aren't as good as others I have tried.

Great Looking Snack Sticks...

Did you not like the kit or just wanting to try different ones?
Well the look tasty to me! I am a rookie when it comes to sausage or snacksticks have only done it once.When i did mine after two grindings i added the seasonings then put the mix in the feezer for a bit before stuffing.i didn't grind meat and seasonings i just mixed with my hands,i'm sure thee sausage gods will be along soon.
It's not the water that turns your meat to mush on the second grind, it's the friction from the first grind warming your meat up.  The 2 cups cold water your recipe called for serves actually three purposes.  It dissolves some of your seasonings so they can move through the meat evenly, it provides lubrication for stuffing, and it helps to cool the meat back down from that first grind.

You did good to put your meat in the freezer for awhile to fim it up again between grinds.  Next time, try putting your grinder head in the freezer too.

Nice job on your snack sticks, and welcome to the forum!
2 cups of water for 10 lbs of meat is to much. Your meat should not turn to mush. Next time add a small amount of water at a time with your seasonings so it can mix into the meat. you can always add more water but you cannot take it away. When to much water is added you will have more wrinkling due to the evaporation of the water in the meat. you should also invest into a 5lb vertical stuffer. It will make your sausage making experience more pleasurable.

dont be affraid to ask questions here at SMF before making another batch. There are alot of sausage heads here who can help make your second run a success... 

Nice job for the first time making sausage. I remeber the early days....the dogs ate well
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the water does sound like alot to me. I only have been making sausage for maybe a year or so now. It might have been the heat when you smoked your snack sticks. How high was the smoker for you want to start out slow and work the temp up slowly. If you get it too hot too fast it will meal all the fat inside the sausage. That will dry out and make the sausage mushy too.
Thanks guys.  I like the seasonings but definitely want to try some other kinds.  My buddy had some today and loved them, told me not to change anything, lol.  My smoker holds a steady 200 degrees and I have no way of regulating the heat aside from opening the door but I was afraid to do that and lose all the smoke but I might try it next time.  They are not mushy once cooked though.

My problem with the fine grinding persisted even after re-freezing the meat.  The coarse grind went right through but even with the semi-frozen meat it did not want to go through the fine plate, it sort of just kept getting mushed up inside the auger.  I'm not sure what happened, I cleaned the meat fairly well before grinding but there was still some fat lodged in the holes when I took it apart.

I will try to cut the water in half next time and see what happens.  I do have a vertical stuffer btw, I bought one of the weston ones through cabelas when they were on sale right before Christmas for $99 for the 7lber.  That part worked exceptionally well.  I just want to get my methods down pat before I try a large batch or something bigger like trail bologna.  We have 2 deer in the freezer and I should have had a 3rd in there today but blew it with my flintlock.
Nice looking snack sticks!

I like when they're made in a continuous piece, instead of little short sticks.

That way I can honestly say, "I only ate one!"  

Some spice kits are better than others, you might try some others. When I grind meat I make the first grind, then you can add the spices, rechill the meat, grind the meat for the second time, then add the water. For things like snack stick that has soy protein or dry milk in it, stuff into casings at this time and rechill before smoking.  Like Que-ball said put your grinder in the freezer before grinding. You can also put your stuffer cannister in the freezer before stuffing. Also this is too much water. I would try adding half as much and see how it turns out after mixing, then if a little dry add a little at a time till the consistency is where you want it.

Rule #1 for processing meat. Keep the meat COLD!!!

Rule #2 Keep the Meat COLD!!!

Rule #3 Keep the Meat COLD!!!
Thanks for all the advice guys, very helpful.  I did freeze the grinder before doing the meat and had the stuffer in the refrigerator (no more freezer room, lol)  as I saw on some other posts.  These also turned out much better after sitting in the refrigerator for a few days, still not the best I've ever had but pretty darn good!

My father in law wants me to return the hand grinder and buy an electric one so I might end up getting one of the cheap ones from Northern Tool and trying that out.  I have another pack of seasonings for hot sticks I will try next.  Here's the website of the store where I got the spices from if anyone wants to try something different.  They are a local place that does a lot of business in W.PA. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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