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Snack sticks didn't turn out good! Need advice

poacherjoe

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Well I gave snack sticks a try for the first time and they didn't turn out very good. Here is the play by play,
12.5 pounds of 80/20 ground beef
1/2 bag of Chipolte Wildfire seasoning with 1/2 cure packet included.
21mm smoke collagen casings
Enterprise 4 Qt with 1/2" nozzle
about 24 ounces of cold water was used.
I took the burger right out of the cryovac package and placed it in the meat mixer and added the cure mixed with some water and then the seasoning. I am using an old enterprise stuffer so I was told to add more water to make it easier to stuff the 21mm casings through a 1/2" nozzle. This may or may not have had something to do with the bust.
I mixed it for 6 minutes and placed it in the stuffer. This was a first so the filling of the casings wasn't professional. I had some blowouts and some that were not so full but I think I can get this fixed with practice. After they were stuffed I hung them in my Smokintex electric smoker and let them hang an hour or so, Then I turned the PID controller on and let it heat at 120 for an hour and then I placed some Mountain Mahogany in the wood tray. The PID is set to go up 10 degrees every hour until it reaches 170 and then it stays at 170 until the IT gets to 152. So this took about 7 hours and then I tossed them into an ice bath for about 10 minutes and from there to the wooden dowel to bloom for another hour. I then cut into one and I saw a lot of fat out between the casing and the meat stick. The sticks had air pockets etc but the fat out wasn't expected with the controlled temperature. I placed them all into a paper bag and placed it in the fridge to see if the flavor will improve over time but the main thing was the amount of fat in the casings!!! 80/20 is recommended but I am thinking 90/10 would be better the next time . So next time I need to pay closer attention to a more even filing of the casings but what else can I do tp improve??
 

tallbm

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That sounds like a lot of water in the mix. Also mixing for 6 minutes did the meat get tacky and mushy together to where it sticks to the palm of your hand? That is the key to the mix, I wonder if all that liquid interfered.

I wonder if all that liquid contributed to separation of fat and meat because oil/fat and water don't mix and like to separate. Oh and making sure your temps are accurate is super important too and usually the cause of fat out.

Just some thoughts for when you try a smaller batch to iron things out :)

BTW, I bet if you throw those sticks in a crockpot with a little bbq sauce you can salvage them like bbq sauce smokies or mash out all the meat and have like a bbq sauce sloppy joe :)
 

DanMcG

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The water is about 12% so an all beef mix should have handled that if mixed long enough.
 

SWFLsmkr1

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Too much water and your smoker prob got hotter than 170
Your enterprise should handle mix with 0 water added, they are great stuffers.
 

poacherjoe

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I used the temperature probe that comes with the Auber PID inserted into the meat.The meat wasn't tacky like my sausage and bologna but I figured that was because of the extra water. It's like a jello inside the casing between the meat and the casing in spots and it's a tad mushy. Next time I will add another temp probe and use the required amount of water . My Niece thinks they are great?? My Wife and I had Covid and our taste and smell hasn't come back 100% .I have them in the paper bag until tomorrow then I will take the skins off and wipe them down to vacuum for give away.
 

SmokinEdge

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I used the temperature probe that comes with the Auber PID inserted into the meat.The meat wasn't tacky like my sausage and bologna but I figured that was because of the extra water. It's like a jello inside the casing between the meat and the casing in spots and it's a tad mushy. Next time I will add another temp probe and use the required amount of water . My Niece thinks they are great?? My Wife and I had Covid and our taste and smell hasn't come back 100% .I have them in the paper bag until tomorrow then I will take the skins off and wipe them down to vacuum for give away.
Never trust the temp probe that comes with any controller. Always test with a known thermometer.
 

FFchampMT

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Snack Sticks are always "off" for me for the first 24 hours, there's always an acidic/acrid fat taste that disappears after that.
I like 80/20, and have even went down to 75/25, so I'm guessing fat content might have been a contributing factor, but temp was probably the main culprit.
For the blowouts - is it an air blowout or overstuffing? I've found to prevent air blowouts I load the stuffer with gigantic ~1.5 lb 'meatballs' one at a time. I punch each one down before I load the next one to eliminate as many air pockets in the meat as possible.

Owen's Chipotle Wildfire - I go +10% on the seasoning and have had good results.
 

poacherjoe

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Okay I did a second batch . 3 pound batches of Willies and Bloody Mary. I used the regular 80/20 ground beef on one and 88/12 on the other. I placed 2 probes in the smoker and 2 in the meat. The Auber PID and an Inkbird were used. Both sets of probes were within 2 degrees of each other so the PID is working properly and this time I didn't go overboard on the water. The results were better but the 80/20 mix still had some fat and gelling . The 88/12 mix came out perfect!!! The fat level seems to be the problem with the 80/20. So I will go with the leaner beef next time. I still have about 40 pounds of the 80/20 so I will blend in some venison or Elk to get the fat content lower
 

tallbm

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Okay I did a second batch . 3 pound batches of Willies and Bloody Mary. I used the regular 80/20 ground beef on one and 88/12 on the other. I placed 2 probes in the smoker and 2 in the meat. The Auber PID and an Inkbird were used. Both sets of probes were within 2 degrees of each other so the PID is working properly and this time I didn't go overboard on the water. The results were better but the 80/20 mix still had some fat and gelling . The 88/12 mix came out perfect!!! The fat level seems to be the problem with the 80/20. So I will go with the leaner beef next time. I still have about 40 pounds of the 80/20 so I will blend in some venison or Elk to get the fat content lower
Is your PID temp probe on the bottom rock or higher up?

I always clip mine on the bottom side of the lowest possible rack dead center. This gives me the most accurate smoker temp measure. Walking up over a number of hours to 170F should not be causing any gelling so I'm just wondering if the smoker is hotter lower because the PID temp probe is higher in the smoker. I make sausage in my PID electric MES and I go up to 180F for wild boar sausage to bring sausage IT to 165F with no issues.

Good work on tuning in your sausage some more :)
 

SWFLsmkr1

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Fat and gelling. Are you sure the GB was 80/20? and this could be from too high of heat. Probes in the meat read from just the tips, fat can cavitate on the ends and give false readings. Dont use probes in your sticks, stay at lower heats for longer let the meat firm up.
 

SWFLsmkr1

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I used the temperature probe that comes with the Auber PID inserted into the meat.The meat wasn't tacky like my sausage and bologna but I figured that was because of the extra water. It's like a jello inside the casing between the meat and the casing in spots and it's a tad mushy. Next time I will add another temp probe and use the required amount of water . My Niece thinks they are great?? My Wife and I had Covid and our taste and smell hasn't come back 100% .I have them in the paper bag until tomorrow then I will take the skins off and wipe them down to vacuum for give away.
Too high of a temp caused a fat-out,
ALL smokers have hot and cold spots, find where yours is
 

poacherjoe

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In answering the questions above I place the temp probes through the vent port and let them hang in the upper third of the smoker making sure that they were not touching anything. The Inkbird and the Auber probes read pretty much the same and I have made lot's of Trail Bologna and SS doing the same with no problems. The ground beef is sold as 80/20 so I can only assume that it is 80/20 as was the 88/12 . Having seen just how much fat came out of the 80/20 isn't very appealing to me so if it had stayed in place I would be eating all that unhealthy stuff. I will do another small batch of the 80/20 and cut it down further using the lean wild game meat to see how this reacts and I will also lower the temp probes. I hung the meat for 1.5 hrs and then did the 10 degree every hour step method starting at 100 and ending at 170. If I don't place the probe in the sticks how will I know when the IT is correct? The temp never went over 170 doing it this way but as recommended I will lower the probes to see if this helps. Another thing I noticed was that the Willies mix in the 80/20 didn't get as tacky as the Bloody Mary mix in the 88/12 batch. I used about an 1/8 cup of water in each mix with a splash of tabasco.
 

Coreymacc

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When doing sticks I never use 170deg, as my last step. I found its just too close to fat out temp. The stick is thin and very sensitive to temp. My last ramp is 163 deg. That gives me a little cushion if some sticks are getting hotter than others. It takes a hair longer but since I switched to a lower temp I don't get the fat pockets on some of them.

My opinion
Corey
 

browneyesvictim

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Your deductive reasoning and process of elimination is commendable. I'm sure you will figure it out.
I struggled with very similar issues as you you are describing before I found good guidance here in the SMF brotherhood. One of the key learning nuggets for me was understanding the importance of how really cold the meat should be when you handle it; either grinding, mixing or even stuffing. This could be contributing to your issues. Your meat should almost be frozen when you mix it to the point of have ice crystals forming on it. This is the only way to keep the fat in a solid form instead of it "smearing" or mushing and melting into the meat before you even smoke it.
 

tallbm

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In answering the questions above I place the temp probes through the vent port and let them hang in the upper third of the smoker making sure that they were not touching anything. The Inkbird and the Auber probes read pretty much the same and I have made lot's of Trail Bologna and SS doing the same with no problems. The ground beef is sold as 80/20 so I can only assume that it is 80/20 as was the 88/12 . Having seen just how much fat came out of the 80/20 isn't very appealing to me so if it had stayed in place I would be eating all that unhealthy stuff. I will do another small batch of the 80/20 and cut it down further using the lean wild game meat to see how this reacts and I will also lower the temp probes. I hung the meat for 1.5 hrs and then did the 10 degree every hour step method starting at 100 and ending at 170. If I don't place the probe in the sticks how will I know when the IT is correct? The temp never went over 170 doing it this way but as recommended I will lower the probes to see if this helps. Another thing I noticed was that the Willies mix in the 80/20 didn't get as tacky as the Bloody Mary mix in the 88/12 batch. I used about an 1/8 cup of water in each mix with a splash of tabasco.
I would bet money that if you lower your probes where they are at the same level as the lowest rack and your fat-out problem will go away! :)
 

poacherjoe

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I would bet money that if you lower your probes where they are at the same level as the lowest rack and your fat-out problem will go away! :)
I hope your right but after seeing how much fat came out of those sticks I would still rather go with more of a lean ratio. Others have posted that they prefer 90/10 and after joining this forum my waist size has increased dramatically :emoji_astonished: . But I will continue experimenting with the smaller batches until I get it to where I want it. I appreciate all the advice you guy's give me. So far I really like the Bologna way more than anything else but it's fun to play in retirement. As far as keeping everything cold I have been doing everything early in the morning when the temp is in the 50's after all it's late spring in California. So it's from the cryovac package that was in the fridge to the mixer and then the stuffer. Again thanks for all the advice and maybe one day I will earn my OTBS . Order of The Burnt Sausage !! lol
 

tallbm

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I hope your right but after seeing how much fat came out of those sticks I would still rather go with more of a lean ratio. Others have posted that they prefer 90/10 and after joining this forum my waist size has increased dramatically :emoji_astonished: . But I will continue experimenting with the smaller batches until I get it to where I want it. I appreciate all the advice you guy's give me. So far I really like the Bologna way more than anything else but it's fun to play in retirement. As far as keeping everything cold I have been doing everything early in the morning when the temp is in the 50's after all it's late spring in California. So it's from the cryovac package that was in the fridge to the mixer and then the stuffer. Again thanks for all the advice and maybe one day I will earn my OTBS . Order of The Burnt Sausage !! lol
You are close man. Small batches are the way to go. I think you will get it dialed in for sure both temp, temp probe location, and meat/fat ratio. Keep us informed! :D
 

crazymoon

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PJ, As others have said:
1. Too much water
2. Too Hot a temp
3. 80/20 may have been 70/30-60/40??
You learn and be a snack stick master in no time !:emoji_thumbsup:
 

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