First Snack Sticks - failure and sucess QVIEW

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by checkerfred, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    So I started my sausage making experience off with making snack sticks using AC Legg seasoning...I have made these before using a LEM mix but in the oven and not a smoker.......anyhow, they taste ok but they don't have the same look/texture as what I've seen others post here....I started out smoking at 125* for about 1 1/2 hrs to dry the casings, then went up to about 140 for about 2 hrs with smoke....then went to about 160-175 until they reached an internal temp of 150*

    the problems i had were that they seemed greasy on the outside....they weren't dripping grease but did seem kind of overly greasy....some shriveled up pretty bad while others were decent.....the size really didn't change a whole lot.....the texture seems more like the cocktail smokies you would buy and pan fry.....they are kinda soft and not firm like I had thought they would end up..and they tasted more like those little smokie sausages that a snack stick

    I read this thread  and I like the look of Cougars sticks....that's the finished look I was going for....however, mine are much bigger and don't seem to have that smooth snack stick meat texture....those look more like a slim jim...mine seem more's another link with what I envisioned the end result the be Sticks.pdf  ....again they look smaller, more shriveled up and firmer

    I thought I might have cooked the fat out since they were greasy, but I started out low, went up high slowly until I got a 150* internal temp....I don't see how else to hit the internal temp and not lose some fat out



    you can see some of the fat loss in the pan I put them in
  2. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Are you sure you thermometers are good?  It would have to be to hot to loose all the fat like you did.

    How long were they in the smoker?

    Try giving them a couple days to dry out and see if that helps the softness issue. How much water was called for with the mix? 
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    They sure look good from here!
  4. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What ratio beef to pork did you use?

    What smoker do you use?

    Did you allow them to "Bloom"

    Sometimes looks can be deceiving. 

    As long as they taste OK, you can work on your technique.

  5. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Looks like they did not get enough smoke...but they look good.
  6. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    I'm not 100% sure on this...I did put the probe in boiling water and it read close to 212...I think I'm about to spring for a maverick thermometer and amaz n smoker

    They were in the smoker about 6 1/2 -7 hrs

    When you dry them out, do you do so at room temp? or in a fridge?  I used AC Leggs snack mix and 1 cup of water per 5lbs, so I had 2 cups total.

    When I made the LEM snack sticks before, I had the same problem, but they were made in an oven instead
    Todd, I had 75% beef and 25% pork...the smoker is one that I built from an oven...I posted pics in the smoker build areas...I want a digital smoker and was going to get a Masterbuilt, but I've read too many negative comments all over about them not lasting long or having somthing go out on them.....thinking about a cookshack smoker now...I dunno...any recommendations?

    After smoking, I showered in cold water like the AC Legg instructions said, then I left them out at room temp for a few hours

    I definitely need to work on my technique
    How can you tell? not dark enough?  I thought I had enough smoke but I may not have

    Appreciate the responses so far
  7. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    ok, update, I've had them in the fridge for about 26 hrs in paper bags and they seem more firm and have a little better taste....I still want to try and figure out where I went wrong...I think I needed more smoke and my probe seems off

    I put it in boiling water again and at first it hit 211....then I got busy doing something else, came back and checked it again, and it was bouncing around from about 219 to I guess I"m 7-12 degress off which would make my internal temps possibly 160-167......I have two analog meat thermometers, and one read 210 and the other about 208...I adjusted them and will use them.

    Question tho, do you measure them by leaving the meat thermometers in there? or just checking them every so often?  I left the digital probe just dangling in the smoker on the lowest setting and it read 155 while the smoker thermometer read now I"m confused lol
  8. couger78

    couger78 Smoking Fanatic

    I measure BOTH the smoker temp as well as the  meat temp. Always.

    I rarely go by the external dial thermometer on the smoker. It always reads +/- 20° from the probe temp.

    Shown here you can see my 'dangling' prob that measures the smoker temp. I hang it in the middle of the batch. The other probe is inserted into a meat stick. I didnt need one for the franks as those were going into a water bath (with probe) after two hours of smoke. The meat sticks would remain in the smoker until the IT was reached.

    For me, this is the most reliable way of keeping an eye on the temps & making sure it's constant (minor fluctuations) in the smoker.

  9. couger78

    couger78 Smoking Fanatic

    I had the majority of my sticks 'resting' & drying in the fridge for a better part of a week before I cut them to serving lengths. The first two sticks I cut the next day were tasty, but I like them a BIT more dried. The flavor becomes more intensified and I like the 'chew' factor. A week seems about right.

    Shown here 24 hrs later after smoke. Plump; just starting to wrinkle a bit....

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  10. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    Thanks Cougar!  What is your progression on smoking time and temps?  In your thread, you said you went about 4 hours....what temp do you start at and how long/how much do you bump it up?

    About the probe, I was worried that it might give a false reading if left in there the whole time....on these, I tried it leaving it in like you do, and when it read 155 IT, I pulled the probe out....took it out and cooled it, then inserted it again, and my temps were in the low 140' it possible that the metal retains heat and gives a false reading?  outside, the temp can be 95, but if you put your hand on a piece of metal in the sun, its much more hot
  11. Checkerfred,

    In my experience, insufficient mixing of the mince can result in  fat loss, leaving the holes which can be seen in your pics. Nice colour !

  12. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    well I've had them in the fridge for 2 days now and they look much much better...when I sliced one, it looks very similar to Cougars....they taste even better too now
  13. couger78

    couger78 Smoking Fanatic

    My 4-hour method: In smoker, (no smoke) @ 120° for about an ONE hour (this is after they've been chilling in the fridge) to remove any moisture or condensation on the exterior. Raise temp to 130-140° over the next (2nd) hour with heavy smoke. Kick temps up to 150-160° (3rd) hour with heavy smoke. Last hour (4th) or so, continued smoke if you want (not sure that much smoke is absorbed after the second or third hour), temps up to 170-180° (MAX) to reach the IT of the sticks to 157°. Depending on the load (thickness of sausage), this last stage may take additional time (2-3 hours+ sometimes). Pull & drop in ice bath (or hang in front of fan to cool) then hang to bloom for hour or so.

    Some folks pull @ 155°—residual heat continues to rise to desired IT.
  14. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    Thanks Cougar!  Gonna try again soon and will try your smoking time/temps
  15. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    Thanks Cougar!  Gonna try again soon and will try your smoking time/temps
  16. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Take the probe out of your sticks while in the smoker. It acts as a heat sink and can produce fat-outs and cavitation pockets in the meat.
  17. checkerfred

    checkerfred Smoke Blower

    They look even better now....I put a temp/hygrometer in my mini fridge....with a wet towel soaked in white vinegar/distilled water....I have a humidity of about 66% and temp of 50*....they've dried down quite a bit now and look/taste better....I did cook some of the fat out tho

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