My venison summer sausage dilemma

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singlguy9

Newbie
Original poster
Sep 27, 2022
11
2
OK, I'll try to provide as many details as possible. I made venison summer sausage using last year's ground venison, mixed with ground pork from the supermarket (70/30 ratio venison to pork). I mixed well using a well-received internet recipe. I also added high heat cheddar cheese. The recipe called for 1 T of tenderquick per pound as a cure. I read that for sausage, I should use only 1.5 t of tenderquick per pound so I went with it. I had 13 pounds of meat and it called for 4 cups of water so I mixed that in as well. I dissolved the TQ in the water before mixing in. I used a LEM stuffer with fibrous casings with no holes in them (2.5 inch 3 pound casings). I let them rest in the fridge for 24 hours to cure and I thought I was ready to roll. I used a Masterbuilt electric smoker. I set it to 100 degrees until the meat got to about 80, then bumped up the temp every hour or two staying ahead of the meat by 20-30 degrees or so until the meat reached 160. This process took about 7.5 hours. I placed them in an ice bath for a few minutes until the temp came down to less than 100. At this point I noticed the casings felt "squishy". It was evident that fat rendered out into the casings. I cut one open to inspect and I was correct, a gelatinous goo was in the casing. I was a little disheartened and placed them in the fridge overnight. I inspected the next day and the casings were still squishy so I cut them open and got rid of the goo and vacuum packed them and put them in the freezer. The flavor was OK, not what I was expecting but OK (I can tweak the recipe for the flavor). The texture was nowhere near as firm as I was looking for, not quite but near "crumbly". I attached a couple of pics to show what I'm trying to describe. Any tips or something I definitely did wrong? I have more ground venison and I hoping to try again and get it right.
 

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tallbm

Smoking Guru
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Dec 30, 2016
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OK, I'll try to provide as many details as possible. I made venison summer sausage using last year's ground venison, mixed with ground pork from the supermarket (70/30 ratio venison to pork). I mixed well using a well-received internet recipe. I also added high heat cheddar cheese. The recipe called for 1 T of tenderquick per pound as a cure. I read that for sausage, I should use only 1.5 t of tenderquick per pound so I went with it. I had 13 pounds of meat and it called for 4 cups of water so I mixed that in as well. I dissolved the TQ in the water before mixing in. I used a LEM stuffer with fibrous casings with no holes in them (2.5 inch 3 pound casings). I let them rest in the fridge for 24 hours to cure and I thought I was ready to roll. I used a Masterbuilt electric smoker. I set it to 100 degrees until the meat got to about 80, then bumped up the temp every hour or two staying ahead of the meat by 20-30 degrees or so until the meat reached 160. This process took about 7.5 hours. I placed them in an ice bath for a few minutes until the temp came down to less than 100. At this point I noticed the casings felt "squishy". It was evident that fat rendered out into the casings. I cut one open to inspect and I was correct, a gelatinous goo was in the casing. I was a little disheartened and placed them in the fridge overnight. I inspected the next day and the casings were still squishy so I cut them open and got rid of the goo and vacuum packed them and put them in the freezer. The flavor was OK, not what I was expecting but OK (I can tweak the recipe for the flavor). The texture was nowhere near as firm as I was looking for, not quite but near "crumbly". I attached a couple of pics to show what I'm trying to describe. Any tips or something I definitely did wrong? I have more ground venison and I hoping to try again and get it right.

Hi there and welcome!

The good news is that your situation makes sense so you are not experiencing anything out of the ordinary for your situation.

The bad news is that you ended performing "fat out" while smoking your summer sausage.
This means that you smoked the sausage too hot and all the fat leaked out rather than staying in the sausage and having a solid sausage.
The results of fat out are crumbly, dry, loose texture of your sausage... exactly what you describe.

Back to more good news, the solution to your problem is easy to understand but might be difficult to execute.

Solution:
When making sausage like this you have to walk up your smoker temp from like 100F degrees to about 170F degrees.
You do this by setting at 100 for an hour with no smoke.
Apply smoke and raise temp to like 125F for 45min-1hr.
Raise temp again to like 145F for 45min-1hr.
Then raise temp again to like 165F for 45min-1hr.
Continue this trend until you hit 170F smoker temp and leave there until your sausage meat hits your internal temp. If you are shooting for 160F Internal Temp (IT) of sausage you may have to bump up to 180F smoker temp with the process (I have done this).

Why do this process? This process for sausage keeps from shocking the fat and melting it out with temps that are too high for too long.

Now for the "ugly" truth.
Your MES is purposely built to have temp swings in order to burn/smolder wood chips. So when you set it to 145F smoker temp it may swing up to 160F and drop down to 130F.
This is an unfortunate and ugly reality when it comes to making sausage and does not help you.

If you go over 170-180F smoker temp you can start to cause fat out so most people shoot for an IT of the sausage being like 152-155F but if you have parasite concerns or have reason to go with a higher temp for game meat then you have a dilema. Your MES temp swings will make this difficult for you.

If your oven doesn't have such high temp swings you can transfer the sausage to the oven after it receives all the smoke you want and walk the temp up there.

Another solution would be to put them in a big water proof trashbag and into a cooler with water and a Sous Vide (SV) machine to finish them. The SV will hold temp very tightly.

I know these may not be very good options or possibilities but its the reality of your situation.

There is 1 more end all be all solution that is a little more involved but definitely a solution.

You can do a simple rewire to your MES smoker and buy an Auber PID controller and have it control your smoker temps. A PID controller will hold temp spot on or within 1 degree of the temp you set.
My MES is rewired and using a PID because I wanted to be able to do sausage and bacon (and other smokes) without the risk of fat out. I make sausage with no problem.
I wanted a smoker that would allow me to make basically any smoked food I could think of so I went this route and it is night and day difference the performance I get from my MES.

So let's Recap.
1.) You experienced "fat out" and the texture you are getting with your sausage is as expected. Crumble it up and mix with bbq sauce to have a bbq-sloppy joe style meat mix eaten with melted cheddar on a hamburger bun and you will LOVE it (I have been where u are at and this was a wonderful solution to eating the meat for me lol)

2.) Use sausage smoking processes to ramp up temp, provided your smoker does not/will not ruin things for you (only trying will tell you)

3.) Your MES will try to cause fat out due to high temp swings just as it is designed to do. You have a few solution type options to go with should any of them be feasible.

I threw a lot of info at you so ask any/all questions you may have, we will get em answered. I hope this info helps :)
 

indaswamp

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
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Apr 27, 2017
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South Louisiana-Yes, it is HOT
Also- no need to smoke to internal temperature of 160*F. Through pasteurization the meat is safe to eat once it reaches 136*F and that temperature is maintained for at least 30 minutes. This will give you a log5 reduction in bacteria. What I do is let it go for an hour once 136*F is reached. This will give you a Log7 reduction. The temp. usually rises to 144-146*F which is more insurance for safety, but it is safe to eat at this point. No need to cook further and risk fat out.
 

Dave in AZ

Meat Mopper
Oct 2, 2022
267
254
Phx, AZ
Tallbm and indaswamp already addressed the temperature issues that caused fatout. I struggled with temp control on my pellet smoker too, ended up getting an electric smoker with nice PID temp control to solve issues

There are 2 other possible causes for crumbly texture. One of them indaswamp asked about: acid.
1. What did you use for acid tang? If you added citric acid, it needs to be encapsulated or ECA. If acid comes in contact with meat before it reaches 130f or so and has formed cooked bonds, it will make the texture crumbly. ECA is easy to mess up...
A. You must mix it in right at end, carefully and lightly. B. You must cook it immediately, not letting it sit in fridge.

2. Maybe Not enough fat to start even, can give a dry texture even without losing it to fat out.. Most recipes I see have 30% fat. All pork butt will be 25% to 30%. However, you only used 30% ground pork. Ground Venison is almost lean. Assuming even 30% fat, that is just 9% fat overall, which is pretty light. Then of course you lost a bunch via fat out.

Hope you can make use of it, I like to just slice up anything questionable and fryin bacon fat like fried baloney! ;)
 
Last edited:

Winterrider

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Sep 29, 2018
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Very good info above. MES are known for very inaccurate thermometers. An additional digital inside would be of great value to you to compare or like tallbm tallbm stated, wire in a Auber. Best thing I ever did with mine, love it !
And welcome to the forum.
 
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chopsaw

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OFallon Mo.
4 cups of water is way more than I use . I never follow liquid amounts anymore . I add it until I get a good bind . If your salt and fat are correct my opinion is you won't need much liquid .
I also use NFDM , especially with venison .

I didn't read through everything because the text is a out of whack for me .
 
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tallbm

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MES are known for very inaccurate thermometers.
Yes what Winterrider Winterrider said. Great important point here. You can NEVER trust any temp readings from the MES. Not the smoker temp readings or the meat thermometer readings. We all use good wireless remote thermometers for our readings.
It's easy to test the probes for accuracy in boiling water by them hitting 212F degrees or close to it in boiling water. If off a few degrees that's ok just make a mental note of how far off the probes are and you are ready to rock!
 

ifitsdeadsmokeit

Meat Mopper
Apr 9, 2010
271
38
Hollister Missouri
I used to use a MES to smoke sausage and jerky and learned quickly that you can't use the MES thermometer. Use a remote to control temp. Another solution to the temp spikes from the burning chips is to not use chips for smoke and use a sawdust tray or pellet tube that way the temp is constant until it burns out.
 
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poacherjoe

Smoking Fanatic
Nov 7, 2019
582
720
Central Ca
I went through this very same problem using a SmokinTex smoker. Analog smokers have a rather large temperature swing as I found out with the Fat Out .. I spoke with the factory reps and they were stubborn and defended their product and tried to make me think the 30 degree temperature swing was no big deal. My solution was to purchase the Auber PID controller and now I have zero problems with temperature swing and no fat out.
 
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singlguy9

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 27, 2022
11
2
I love these suggestions (THANK YOU ALL!!!); I will look into controlling the temp in the MES (next on my list of things to do because I think this was my biggest issue). A couple of updates/questions:
- the recipe did not call for acid, are there easier alternatives to ECA?
- what is NFDM and what is its purpose?
- is my amount of TQ per pound correct (1.5 t)? is there an advantage to using another kind of cure for this type of sausage?
- is there a good recipe out there? mine tastes good but closer to hot dog than summer sausage?......I will definitely eat in fried or in omelets, just not the profile I'm looking for.

Been surfing around here a bit; I REALLY like this place.
 
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indaswamp

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South Louisiana-Yes, it is HOT
NFDM is Non-Fat Dry Milk Powder.
You can use fermento buttermilk powder for the tang if you want.

Also- did you mix the sausage paste well prior to stuffing? You should be able to take a little bit in the palm of you hand and turn your hand upside down and it will stick and not fall or lose shape. If it falls, keep mixing...
 
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boykjo

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Apr 28, 2010
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I would like to add to what great information has already been said. I suggest making sausage with freshly processed meat or meat that has been properly frozen. I don't know how your venison was stored but it needs to be vacuum sealed if it's going to store for over 3 months. Meat that is stored in the freezer and gets freezer burn will become dry and crumbly and look like what you have. The fat will not bind in the freezer burnt meat and will separate during the cooking process. Try to process the sausage with freshly killed meat or properly stored meat and then freeze the cooked sausage.

I use tender quick in most of my recipes and yes. Tender quick is 1.5 teaspoons per lb. of ground meat. 1 tablespoon per/lb when curing whole cuts of meat

My 2 cents
 

singlguy9

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 27, 2022
11
2
NFDM is Non-Fat Dry Milk Powder.
You can use fermento buttermilk powder for the tang if you want.

Also- did you mix the sausage paste well prior to stuffing? You should be able to take a little bit in the palm of you hand and turn your hand upside down and it will stick and not fall or lose shape. If it falls, keep mixing...
Yes, mixed very well.......at least I thought so, very tacky, will do the stick test next time.
 

singlguy9

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 27, 2022
11
2
I would like to add to what great information has already been said. I suggest making sausage with freshly processed meat or meat that has been properly frozen. I don't know how your venison was stored but it needs to be vacuum sealed if it's going to store for over 3 months. Meat that is stored in the freezer and gets freezer burn will become dry and crumbly and look like what you have. The fat will not bind in the freezer burnt meat and will separate during the cooking process. Try to process the sausage with freshly killed meat or properly stored meat and then freeze the cooked sausage.

I use tender quick in most of my recipes and yes. Tender quick is 1.5 teaspoons per lb. of ground meat. 1 tablespoon per/lb when curing whole cuts of meat

My 2 cents
The venison was not vacuum packed, but "stuffed" by a butcher into 1 pound bags. It was not freezer burnt, except on the very end where it was sealed/tied. I removed that small portion and discarded it. Been in the freezer about 10 months. I hope that's not the culprit, my goal was to process last year's meat before this year's hit the ground. :-)
 

singlguy9

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 27, 2022
11
2
Hi there and welcome!

The good news is that your situation makes sense so you are not experiencing anything out of the ordinary for your situation.

The bad news is that you ended performing "fat out" while smoking your summer sausage.
This means that you smoked the sausage too hot and all the fat leaked out rather than staying in the sausage and having a solid sausage.
The results of fat out are crumbly, dry, loose texture of your sausage... exactly what you describe.

Back to more good news, the solution to your problem is easy to understand but might be difficult to execute.

Solution:
When making sausage like this you have to walk up your smoker temp from like 100F degrees to about 170F degrees.
You do this by setting at 100 for an hour with no smoke.
Apply smoke and raise temp to like 125F for 45min-1hr.
Raise temp again to like 145F for 45min-1hr.
Then raise temp again to like 165F for 45min-1hr.
Continue this trend until you hit 170F smoker temp and leave there until your sausage meat hits your internal temp. If you are shooting for 160F Internal Temp (IT) of sausage you may have to bump up to 180F smoker temp with the process (I have done this).

Why do this process? This process for sausage keeps from shocking the fat and melting it out with temps that are too high for too long.

Now for the "ugly" truth.
Your MES is purposely built to have temp swings in order to burn/smolder wood chips. So when you set it to 145F smoker temp it may swing up to 160F and drop down to 130F.
This is an unfortunate and ugly reality when it comes to making sausage and does not help you.

If you go over 170-180F smoker temp you can start to cause fat out so most people shoot for an IT of the sausage being like 152-155F but if you have parasite concerns or have reason to go with a higher temp for game meat then you have a dilema. Your MES temp swings will make this difficult for you.

If your oven doesn't have such high temp swings you can transfer the sausage to the oven after it receives all the smoke you want and walk the temp up there.

Another solution would be to put them in a big water proof trashbag and into a cooler with water and a Sous Vide (SV) machine to finish them. The SV will hold temp very tightly.

I know these may not be very good options or possibilities but its the reality of your situation.

There is 1 more end all be all solution that is a little more involved but definitely a solution.

You can do a simple rewire to your MES smoker and buy an Auber PID controller and have it control your smoker temps. A PID controller will hold temp spot on or within 1 degree of the temp you set.
My MES is rewired and using a PID because I wanted to be able to do sausage and bacon (and other smokes) without the risk of fat out. I make sausage with no problem.
I wanted a smoker that would allow me to make basically any smoked food I could think of so I went this route and it is night and day difference the performance I get from my MES.

So let's Recap.
1.) You experienced "fat out" and the texture you are getting with your sausage is as expected. Crumble it up and mix with bbq sauce to have a bbq-sloppy joe style meat mix eaten with melted cheddar on a hamburger bun and you will LOVE it (I have been where u are at and this was a wonderful solution to eating the meat for me lol)

2.) Use sausage smoking processes to ramp up temp, provided your smoker does not/will not ruin things for you (only trying will tell you)

3.) Your MES will try to cause fat out due to high temp swings just as it is designed to do. You have a few solution type options to go with should any of them be feasible.

I threw a lot of info at you so ask any/all questions you may have, we will get em answered. I hope this info helps :)
Again, thank you, I believe this is probably the main issue and will most likely rewire the MES, I too plan to delve into other types of sausage and bacon. The Mrs. isn't wild about venison, and I LOVE summer sausage and the like, and I want to get it right so I'm not paying the butcher dearly to do it for me, lol.
 

KJNDIVER

Newbie
Dec 18, 2020
26
16
Lake Charles, La.
I was hesitant to transition, even after hearing everyone talk about the inadequacies of the MES factory controller. Well, last few cooks I did it seemed the temp swings were worse, especially with overshooting desired temps. I finally broke down and bought an Auber PID. It arrived 2 days ago. I was reading up on it and learning how to operate last night. Im gonna wire it up this weekend and give it a go. Needless to say, dont be stubborn like me, get another controller. lol
 
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singlguy9

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Sep 27, 2022
11
2
I was looking on line and saw a bunch of models, is there one that's better for the MES? I want decent one without breaking the bank.
 

tallbm

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★ Lifetime Premier ★
Dec 30, 2016
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Texas
Again, thank you, I believe this is probably the main issue and will most likely rewire the MES, I too plan to delve into other types of sausage and bacon. The Mrs. isn't wild about venison, and I LOVE summer sausage and the like, and I want to get it right so I'm not paying the butcher dearly to do it for me, lol.
The fat on the outside is clear fat-out. So I'm positive you had an issue with temping being too high.
After all the work of landing an animal, processing, seasoning, and cooking it.... it is so disappointing to not get a good product due to equipment limitations. The rewire for me was a mandatory thing once I had some fat out trying summer sausage in the oven before I ever owned a smoker. The sausage seasoning instructions were horrible on cooking and cause me to have fat out. I vowed never to allow that to happen once I got a smoker lol.

I just brought back 4 meat animals from a weekend hunt. My brother brought back 3 (2 giant pigs and 1 doe). We save some money processing ourselves but honestly the quality we produce is where things shine. Time is money and we spend a lot of time processing so that = money BUT we get everything exactly how we want it.


I was looking on line and saw a bunch of models, is there one that's better for the MES? I want decent one without breaking the bank.

Here is the model I always recommend for MES owners. It will work without issue for both MES40 and MES30 models and wont overheat on you (choose the multi-purpose probe):

You simply have to do a simple rewire on your MES (cut ends off 4 wires and wire nut/splice to make 2 whole wires) and then you can just plug the MES cord directly into the Auber PID.
The Auber PID will be plugged into the wall to get power and feed it to the MES.
The Auber PID has a temp probe you drop down into the smoker and clip to the bottom of the lowest smoker rack and it will read the smoker temps.
Now the Auber PID cuts power on/off to hit and hold the temperature that you enter into the Auber PID. Simple.


Yep its $160 before shipping HOWEVER think of this as buying the best performing smoker you can buy for $160 rather than paying more for a brand new smoker that could never hold a candle to how your rewired smoker could work with a PID.
We all sweat a little over the cost and the conversion then we use the thing and always think "MAN! WHY DIDNT I DO THIS SOONER!!!" hahaha.
I think KJNDIVER KJNDIVER can attest to this being the newest member of the PID club :D
 
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