Summer Sausage IT wouldn't budge - Smoker problem?

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by fitch32, May 23, 2016.

  1. So I have been making SS for a couple of years now. I have been mostly successful so far.

    Yesterday I made a 5 pound batch just like normal, but I couldn’t get the internal temp (IT) to budge. Once in a while I will get hung up in the 120’s but usually it doesn’t last too long and then it moves on. Yesterday however I couldn’t get my IT above 115 for 4 plus hours. I am trying to figure out what was going on.

    Here is my smoker procedure with a digital Bradley 4 rack. Hang and dry at 130 for 90 minutes, damper wide open. Smoke at 130 for 2 hours, 1/3 damper. Bump temperature 10 degrees every hour until IT goal is reached, mostly closed damper.

    So I finished drying and smoking and bumped to 140 for 1 hour. Then I bumped to 150 and inserted the IT probe (this normally when I insert the probe). I noticed that my IT was a little low when I inserted the probe. It was 106 IT. Usually I am approaching 120 IT or so at this point. I stayed on 150 for 3 hours instead of my usual 1 and the IT would not come above 113-115! After watching no progress I moved the smoker to the garage thinking maybe there is too much breeze. That didn’t help. I thought maybe the cabinet was too moist so I opened the damper for awhile and that didn’t help either. So I eventually closed the damper back down and turned up the heat to 160 and then 170 before the IT started to slowly come up.

    I was happy at this point that I was making progress but I was still trying to figure why these sausages were so hard to increase temperature in. I noticed the cabinet temp didn’t really feel as hot as the Bradley temperature read out was saying.  I inserted the longest probe thermometer in the damper I could find. I noticed the thermometer I inserted through the damper was changing way more rapidly then the Bradley thermometer was changing and also the temperature swing was way bigger than what I was seeing on the Bradley thermometer. So I eventually just cranked up the heat and watched my thermometer in the damper and opened and close the door to hold the temperature I wanted. I basically manually controlled the cabinet temperature like the controller should be doing.

    Start to finish my run time was about 14 hours, it is usually 8 hours.

    So I have some questions now that you know what I was facing:

    Does cabinet humidity have an effect on being able to increase IT? Is humidity something that I should be tracking? It was more humid yesterday than it usually is when I run the smoker.

    The only change I made to my batch yesterday was the casings. I switched from the clear 1 ½ x 12 inch LEM casing to a mahogany 1 ½ x 12 in LEM casing. That wouldn’t make a difference would it?

    Is the thermometer and the controller really that bad in the Bradley smokers? The temperature swings were at times pushing +/- 20 degrees according to my thermometer in the damper.

    Of all these things listed, what caused my temperature not to move?
  2. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Stalls can happen with sausage,,,, I would definatly get your self another therm, like the maverick ET732 or something similar to that and check it either with doing the boiling water/Ice water test,,, One of our sponsors sells them here on the site and free shipping from them 

     Then you know what the temp is,, I have an MES 30 smoker and I do not trust the factory thermometers that came with it. Just my 2 pennies 

    A full smoker is a happy smoker 

  3. Thanks for the info driedstick. I have a therm like the one you suggested already I use for the IT of meat and I do believe it is accurate. The therm built into the smoker is definitely junky on a good day.

    Do you think that those big temperature swings contribute to stalls?

    How do  you treat stalls? Do you wait them out or do you keep turning up the heat?
  4. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Stalls are just weird I just go with what I do normally they will come out of it. No I never give it more heat,, I do not go over 170 in my smoker when smoking sausages,,,,,, You could smoke for 2-4hrs then do the hot water bath like alot of guys/gals do on here. 

  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A low humidity day will cause the sausage to "evaporate" faster causing lower temps...    evaporative cooling is what 's happening...    When done adding smoke, I will close the exhaust down so it's about 10% or so open...  that slows the evaporation some....  

    Like DS mentioned, once the smoke part is done, a water bath or steam bath to finish the sticks will do nicely...   run the bath about 5-10 degrees hotter than you want the finished product...
  6. Thanks for all that great information guys. I don't follow the board as closely as I should, therefore this is the first time I have heard about the hot water bath after smoke!! I am intrigued by this technique and I think I will give it a try. Is this technique meant to finish the sausages or do you just bath them for a while and put back in the cabinet to finish cooking?

    I would like to touch on stalls again. Driedstick I know you said you don't crank the heat when going through a stall but you follow your normal procedure. My normal procedure is to bump the temperature 10 degrees every hour, but back when first started making sausage someone told me that the cabinet temperature and sausage IT should never exceed 20 degrees difference (I have never been able to achieve that by the way), so when my cabinet temperature was set to 150 and the sausage IT was 115 I stopped bumping up the temperature, because I was waiting for the IT came up. Should I have continued to bump every hour until I reached my maximum cabinet temperature of 180 degrees? or do you wait for the sausage IT to catch up?
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The easiest is to add smoke and water bath at 160 ish...   wait for IT to be achieved...   

    I smoke my sausage to final IT...  I set the smoker at 160 and wait...  up to 24 hours..
  8. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Yes Dave has you covered,,, you have cure, you are good.. I still bump mine 10* also each hour to 160-170 to get to the final IT,,, . mine will take anywhere from 8 - 12+ hours,,, Everyone has a little different way to do it. 



    They should be done by now right LOL 

    A full smoker is a happy smoker 

  9. Not really interested in finishing the sausages in the water. I think I will stick to the smoker.

    Next time I will follow my procedure and bump 10 every hour even if they start to stall. I have been so hung up on keeping the IT and cabinet temperature close together. It sounds like I need to let that go.

    Yes DS they are done:) Sorry didn't take pictures. Consider my lesson learned, next post will have pictures.

    As always you guys (driedstick and DaveOmak) make this a wonderful site. Thanks again for being willing to share your knowledge.

    By the way: Thanks for your service DS! God bless you!
  10. tjmitche

    tjmitche Smoke Blower

    Totally agreed with DS. I use my Maverick when doing sausage and put it in a couple spots to average out differences. Stalls happen in almost every smoke. Its just a patience and waiting game at that point.
  11. The guys didn't mention it, but the main benefit (IMHO) of the water bath is that it is much faster to finish vs the smoker. I am looking at getting a big electric turkey roaster to finish mine in. I can use those extra lost hours to do something else, rather than be tied to the smoker.
  12. donr

    donr Smoking Fanatic

    I would check your thermocouples on your non-built in thermometer once in a while.  I have one of my Maverick ones fail on me, it reads temperatures wrong.  I keep a spare of each on hand.

    Most electric smokers have temperature swings because the controllers are mostly on/off switches.  Like the thermostat on a forced air furnace. It raises temp up so much and then lets them fall a certain amount below "set temp".  Some are better at it than others.  I put gravel, some use sand, (I think about any large, food safe mass will work) in my water pan to help even out the temp. swings.  Does it help, who knows. 

    As far as the stall goes, I've noticed it while I've done Summer sausage as well.  I also use the lem 1-1/2" dia. (read cracker sized) casings.  I just raised the chamber temp. my 10°f every hour and it turns out ok.

  13. couger78

    couger78 Smoking Fanatic

    I found the water bath resolved pretty much any and all temp stall problems I had encountered early on. I know the process may not be for everyone, but for me, the consistent results and HUGE time-savings by using a water bath finish was a no-brainer.
  14. Is roasters the typical method for water bathing? If so what brand works best? I would imagine some hold water temp more consistently than others?
  15. couger78

    couger78 Smoking Fanatic

    Sausage-makers use large cooking pots, stove top basins or turkey roasters— whatever is large enough to accommodate the load of sausages.

    The nice thing about turkey roasters is one is able to set the temp & forget, whereas stove top pots require additional monitoring.

    Prices range from $30-80+ for a new electric roaster— so find one that is large enough and fits the budget.

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