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Please help! Mushy beef snack sticks

paul2002

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Joined Jan 29, 2017
Hello All,
Been a long time since I've logged on. Unfortunately my hobbies come and go lol. But I do always come back to them. Too many interests!

Anyway, I am trying to make beef snack sticks. Or I call them smokies. I've been trying to nail them down for a while now. They always come out mushy!
I've ground my own meat (tried for 80/20)
I've bought ground meat of all types-80/20,70/30, 73/27
I've bought fresh ground meat, I've bought pre packed in the styrofoam, Ive bought the logs.
They've always come out mushy.
I recently bought a meat mixer which seemed to really give me the sticky good consistency. I've always achieved a good sticky consistency, however the mixer made it easier and quicker. And my hands stayed warm! I have a masterbuilt electric smoker so I have perfect temp control. I start at 130 for 1 hour, then increase the temp every hour 10 degrees. Until I reach 170-180. I pull them out at 155 IT. Last night I did an experiment I put 6 links in so I didn't waste a whole batch. I pulled the first one out at 155 IT, next one at 160, then 165 and 170 IT. Still no difference. they were all Mushy. This batch was a 73/27 log. From my research the fat content could control the "mushiness" but like I said, I'm getting mushy at all percentages.
this is my recipe (roughly)
5 lbs ground meat (any of the ones I've mentioned.)
1 tsp pink salt prague #1
2 tbsp paprika
1.5 tbsp pickling salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp celery seed
1 tbsp black pepper
1 cup dry milk
I stuff them into 19mm casings.
and I might be missing something. These ingredients pretty much haven't changed in all attempts except the meat and how I prepare it (grind) or the fat percentage.
I hope I've provided all the info you'll need.
I feel the flavor is pretty good, they just are mushy! anyone have any help?!! Please and thank you!
 

indaswamp

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Are you putting the meat in the freezer to firm up prior to grinding so you don't get fat smear? How much water are you adding to the mix?
 

paul2002

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Ah yes! It is frozen, partially. I put my cure in 1 cup of ice water. I forgot to mention that. Even during mixing i try to keep it as cold as possible. I haven't ground my own in the last several attempts. I wasn't happy with my results. But I may be willing to revisit if thats the key. I just could never get the ratios down. I never KNEW if i was getting 80/20 or not
 

SonnyE

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I'm really new at this, but some things come to mind.
I don't see any Pork in your mixture. And you have seemingly always hit on ground beast.
What about grinding your own lean beast? Total control of the fat content.
If you are up for a different road, try other recipes.
Many folks here make their own Snack Sticks. I'm currently working with Disco's recipe.
I ordered in some of the ingredients I didn't have, like Buttermilk Powder. And Mustard seed, and Fennel seeds.
For the price of a smallish expensive bottle of the seeds, I have poundish sizes being mailed in with free shipping. And a pound of Buttermilk Powder.
And like Inda said, cold... Icy cold, holds the fat.
You'll get it, just keep working on it.

Oh, and are you letting the stuffed sticks set overnight in the cold fridge before smoking?
 

foamheart

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Simple. You just need to smoke 'em longer to get the water out. You can add a gallon of H20 in your mix if you don't mind smoking for a day or two to dewater 'em.

I don't know your smoker, but I do stix in an electric. I start off for 45 mins to one hour on high heat 275 degrees. BUT I leave the vent wide open and the door cracked and just on latch. Then I add smoke and turn down my temp to sustain whatever smoking time I which to use. When they are dry, where I want them I pull 'em.

Smoking is about your senses, sure a recipe is great for preparing your product, but use your eyes, nose, and touch to decide when its ready. If you don't there will always some different modifier to your set equation. Smoking is not an exact science. Besides the product to smoke (meat is always different), there temp, humidity, type smoke, condition of smoke type, etc etc....

Just try smoking your stix a little longer, or readjust the content of fluid in the mixture, heck you could even smoke higher all should work.
 
Last edited:

indaswamp

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Ah yes! It is frozen, partially. I put my cure in 1 cup of ice water. I forgot to mention that. Even during mixing i try to keep it as cold as possible. I haven't ground my own in the last several attempts. I wasn't happy with my results. But I may be willing to revisit if thats the key. I just could never get the ratios down. I never KNEW if i was getting 80/20 or not
I suggest you cut the water back to 1/2 cup......maybe even a 1/4 cup....
 

paul2002

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Simple. You just need to smoke 'em longer to get the water out. You can add a gallon of H20 in your mix if you don't mind smoking for a day or two to dewater 'em.
Ya know what?! I was thinking the same thing. yes they may hit temp... but they may not dry out. So at this very minute...I am trying to bump the temp every 2 hours instead of 1. I have the rest of the recipe in now from last night.
Would you still pull them at an IT of 155?
Thank You
 

indaswamp

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Ah yes! It is frozen, partially. I put my cure in 1 cup of ice water. I forgot to mention that. Even during mixing i try to keep it as cold as possible. I haven't ground my own in the last several attempts. I wasn't happy with my results. But I may be willing to revisit if thats the key. I just could never get the ratios down. I never KNEW if i was getting 80/20 or not
If you are going to use store bought ground beef, I suggest buying whole cuts and have the butcher grind them for you. That way you know you are getting fresh ground beef. Buying already ground beef, you do not know how fresh it is, and ground meat in a grocery store is the most contaminated meat they sell.
 

paul2002

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Joined Jan 29, 2017
I'm really new at this, but some things come to mind.
I don't see any Pork in your mixture. And you have seemingly always hit on ground beast.
What about grinding your own lean beast? Total control of the fat content.
If you are up for a different road, try other recipes.
Many folks here make their own Snack Sticks. I'm currently working with Disco's recipe.
I ordered in some of the ingredients I didn't have, like Buttermilk Powder. And Mustard seed, and Fennel seeds.
For the price of a smallish expensive bottle of the seeds, I have poundish sizes being mailed in with free shipping. And a pound of Buttermilk Powder.
And like Inda said, cold... Icy cold, holds the fat.
You'll get it, just keep working on it.

Oh, and are you letting the stuffed sticks set overnight in the cold fridge before smoking?
I have the ingredients. I know the struggle to find them! lol Im not sure where you live but I have found the dry milk at my walmart and grocery stores. I will definetly look at that recipe, bc once I nail this consistency I do want to try other recipes.
Yes I do let them sit over night in the fridge. But I have heard you dont have to?IDK I do it just for time purposes really, I dont usually have enough time to mix, stuff and smoke in the same day.
 

paul2002

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Joined Jan 29, 2017
If you are going to use store bought ground beef, I suggest buying whole cuts and have the butcher grind them for you. That way you know you are getting fresh ground beef. Buying already ground beef, you do not know how fresh it is, and ground meat in a grocery store is the most contaminated meat they sell.
I am not trying to start an argument here, as I am not an expert. So understand what I am saying, is just stuff I've heard and am merely repeating it.
I believe it was even on this very forum website where I read a write up on the meats.
In short from what I remember: The pre wrapped logs of meat are actually less contaminated due to the high standards of the factory they are produced in. I think they guy who wrote it said he toured one or worked at one. They are like entering a chemical lab. really high sanitation standards. However if you go to your butcher... you never know wheat meat the just prepped or sanitation standards they have. I guess the government doesnt regulate them like the factories that produce the logs ofpre wrapped meat.
Again... not my research just repeating what I have researched. Im not totally against butcher ground meat either. And I will try anything to get these to firm up. If youre interested... search this this forum here for that thread maybe.
Thank You
 

paul2002

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Joined Jan 29, 2017
Simple. You just need to smoke 'em longer to get the water out. You can add a gallon of H20 in your mix if you don't mind smoking for a day or two to dewater 'em.

I don't know your smoker, but I do stix in an electric. I start off for 45 mins to one hour on high heat 275 degrees. BUT I leave the vent wide open and the door cracked and just on latch. Then I add smoke and turn down my temp to sustain whatever smoking time I which to use. When they are dry, where I want them I pull 'em.

Smoking is about your senses, sure a recipe is great for preparing your product, but use your eyes, nose, and touch to decide when its ready. If you don't there will always some different modifier to your set equation. Smoking is not an exact science. Besides the product to smoke (meat is always different), there temp, humidity, type smoke, condition of smoke type, etc etc....

Just try smoking your stix a little longer, or readjust the content of fluid in the mixture, heck you could even smoke higher all should work.
OK great that is what I am going to try tonight. They are nearing the first 2 hours. I will let them go until I think they are dried out. I have an MES 30. So I too use the electric for them and jerky. Cant beat the ability to hold temp so good. I live in cleveland ohio. Ive used that smoker in -11 degree temps and it held temp like a champ
 

kit s

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A lot of good info above...also might try letting them sit in casing in frig a few days before the smoke that also haelps them dry.
kit
 

SFLsmkr1

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Try not adding any water and keep your smoker vent fully open.
 

paul2002

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Try not adding any water and keep your smoker vent fully open.
OK, I like the idea, but I use the water to help distribute a small 1 tsp of cure. how would I distribute that small amount evenly throughout the recipe? Just in with all the spices im already putting in there? Im nervous about the cure haha.
 

SonnyE

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I gave my wife a very short example of buying "Fresh Ground Beef, Every Day".
She went shopping late yesterday afternoon. I texted her meat I wanted.
Most was not available. I imagine the Super Carnivores grabbed plenty for Super Bowl. She said she was kind of surprised how things seemed out of stock.

She came home with 5.91 lbs. of "Fresh Ground Beef" in a Styrofoam shrink wrapped package.
I just finished doing my repackaging of it into 1/4 pound patties, 1 pound (8"x 8"), vacuum bags. They are freezing before I vacuum them for storage. I use a patty press, and patty papers to do my sub-dividing. Makes the GB real easy to work with later on.
But during the process, she happened to come into the kitchen. I asked if I could show her something. "Sure."
I pointed out, with my gloved hands, the middle looked like meat, and the surface was painted.
"Meat, Paint." I said. "They all seem to do it." I told her. Hopefully the small observation will stick with her.

If it is "Fresh Ground Every Day", why does it need to be painted red?

Now something I've noticed with chubs, (those plastic tubes), No paint. Ever. And naturally red meat as I repackage it into our preferred working sizes.
We also buy the packaged 1 pound, 6 pounds total, plastic packages which really save a lot of time and materials. We just freeze them. And we have Pounds to thaw and cook as desired. Again, No Paint.

Lastly, if you choose a chunk, then have your Butcher custom grind it, why would you believe it is any less contaminated?
Do you think the grinder is cleaner than your own at home? (I can guarantee yours is cleaner. Even if it is dirty, it is your dirty in it.)

To me, if I was going to home grind (and I am/do), it's to assure what is coming out the other end. I don't like vanes or artery parts looking at me when I bite into something. So I remove things I find objectionable when prepping.
If I just buy Ground Beast, I accept it may not be up to my personal standards, but is edible when cooked to death.
It's got to be a cut above a hamburger mixed with a mystery green slime coming out of a window served by someone of questionable health.

Life is a crap shoot. You take the shot, and hope you don't get the craps.
I can say I trust the USDA more than some food truck, or some street vender.
I know neighborhoods where people set a barbecue in their front yards, and sell food cooked right there.
Now that, is damn plain crazy. That is asking to get food poisoning. :emoji_mask:

I have to wonder if the red paint is lead free.... :emoji_thinking:
 

JckDanls 07

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my suggestion would be to confirm your temps in the MES with a reputable thermometer (that's been calibrated in boiling water) ... MES's are notoriously off by up to 50`... Also.. as nepas said... try with no water... just put the Cure in with the other spices and mix as you have been... Myself.. I like to use about a 1/4 cup of water (for 5 lbs of meat) to put the cure in .... A whole cup is wayyyyy to much water ...
 

indaswamp

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Hmm ok. Will I still get that sticky consistency they say I want to get? Does that consistency even matter?
it will still get sticky. It is best to add the salt (or the seasoning pack if the salt is mixed into it), and then mix. The salt will pull out it's own moisture from the meat, and in doing so will pull out salt soluble proteins. Then you can add the water and cure mixture....
 

indaswamp

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I am not trying to start an argument here, as I am not an expert. So understand what I am saying, is just stuff I've heard and am merely repeating it.
I believe it was even on this very forum website where I read a write up on the meats.
In short from what I remember: The pre wrapped logs of meat are actually less contaminated due to the high standards of the factory they are produced in. I think they guy who wrote it said he toured one or worked at one. They are like entering a chemical lab. really high sanitation standards. However if you go to your butcher... you never know wheat meat the just prepped or sanitation standards they have. I guess the government doesnt regulate them like the factories that produce the logs ofpre wrapped meat.
Again... not my research just repeating what I have researched. Im not totally against butcher ground meat either. And I will try anything to get these to firm up. If youre interested... search this this forum here for that thread maybe.
Thank You
May be true that meat in tubes is not as contaminated as store ground beef. You are still better off having the freshest ground meat you can get.
 
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