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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Snack Stick Tutorial

    Last year I promised Glued that I'd post a tutorial. I didn't. Oh well, better late than never. Right? Here it is. Hope I don't bore you.

    The first thing you have to do is decide on your meat. I chose deer, beef and pork. Deer because I have I lot of it. Beef because I just took a steer in for processing and still have 18 lbs of ground beef left. And pork because the deer and beef are too lean for sausage. And I like the flavor pork adds.

    Choose good meat. Not too old, and not freezer burnt. If it smells bad, it is. Pork should comprise approximately 25% of the total weight. So if you have 15 lbs of deer or beef, then you'll need 5 lbs of pork butt, or pork back fat, or whatever you prefer. I like to grind up a whole pork butt.

    You'll also need;
    Seasoning-since this tutorial is about method and not the recipe, I used a pre-mixed seasoning from Leggs. It's good and if you think it's boring, you can always doctor it up. Or search these forums for another recipe.
    Cure #1-trust me, not only does it preserve the meat and make it safe for smoking at low temps, it also enhances the flavor without over salting.
    Encapsulated Citric Acid-easiest way to get the store bought fermented flavor.
    Cutlery-to cut your deer and pork butt into chunks or strips for grinding.
    Meat Lugs or some other type of vessel to hold and mix the meat in.
    Scales-to weigh meat and ingredients.
    Latex Gloves-keep everything as sterile as possible. If you prefer not to wear gloves, stay close to a sink and wash often. Cross contamination is the #1 reason people get sick.
    Meat Grinder and whatever size grinding plates your prefer. I like a fairly course grind, I don't like the texture of mush. Freeze your grinder, auger, knife, and plates until ready to grind.
    Meat Mixer-I don't have one, so my daughter mixes for me with her hands. Works fine, just makes her hands cold.
    Sausage Stuffer-you can get a 5 lb stuffer from Grizzly for about 60 bucks. If you don't have one, I suggest you get one. It's a whole lot faster than using a grinder. Plus it doesn't mush up the meat like a grinder can. Also freeze your stuffer and stuffer parts prior to stuffing.
    Casing-for snack sticks use 17mm to 22 mm, either sheep intestine or edible collagen on a 3/8 stuffing tube. I'm using 22mm collagen.
    Smoker-and wood of some sorts. I like hickory, apple, and cherry for snack sticks.

    Here is the pork butt cut into strips. I'll partially freeze this before grinding. The deer gets the same treatment. I don't waste a lot of time stripping sinew because if your grinder is tight, it will grind this up without a problem. And the end result is just as good as if you'd spent hours stripping. However, I do cut out the thick tendon ends.

    Here is the pork butt all ground up. I didn't take pics of the deer after grinding. This goes back into the freezer for about an hour. Time to get my dry ingredients ready.

    This is the leggs seasoning mix.

    Here's the pink cure. This should be added at .04 oz/lb of meat.

    Encapsulated Citric Acid. We'll add this in the last minute of mixing. I think this really only applies to meat mixers, but we do it that way just in case. What happens is the capsule that surrounds the citric acid melts at 140 allowing the citric acid to distribute throughout the sausage.

    Edit: I do need to add that the encapsulated citric acid is added at .12 oz/lb of meat.

    Ice water-.07 lbs of ice water per lb of meat. Ice water to keep things as cold as possible. We'll mix our seasoning and cure with the water before adding to the meat. The water also helps the meat mixture flow. Don't be afraid to add a little more, as it doesn't hurt the final outcome.

    Seasoning and cure mixed with the ice water.

    Here is the venison, beef and pork. I have to mix this in 25 lb batches as I don't have a big enough container to mix more. The whole batch today is 125 lbs.

    Here is the meat, water and dry ingredients before mixing, BY HAND!!

    This is my 9 year old mixing. We can't find gloves to fit her, so she washes very good and brushes her fingernails.

    She didn't believe I would post this pic, so here it is.

    Here's our meat all mixed up and ready to fill the stuffer. We added the encapsulated citric acid as stated and mixed for an additional minute. I will put this in the freezer for about an hour.
    It's so important to work fast and keep everything cold. Remember what you're working with.

    Stuffer out of the freezer, packed and put together, ready to go to work. Try to press the meat down into the stuffer to get the air out. The valve works pretty good, but you'll find out pretty fast when it isn't working. That's my 6 year old.

    Casing loaded and ready to receive meat.

    I press the meat to the end of the tube, then tie a loose knot, then press some meat into the casing until the air in the casing is gone then I tighten the knot. When I get to the other end I back the stuffer crank up about half a turn, pull the casing off and tie a knot.

    Here it is after stuffing. This will go into the fridge to dry a little and cure over night.

    Into the smoker. I will start drying at 120 for an hour or 2 then add smoke for an hour at 120, then bump the temp up to 140 for an hour, then up to 160, for another hour, then jack it up to 175 to 180 until internal meat temp reaches 152. I might kill the smoke after it's been going for 3 or 4 hours also.
    I don't give my snack sticks a cold water bath like some do. I find it makes my casings loosen up. If I just let them cool naturally, the casings are perfectly formed to the wrinkled snack sticks.
    Those white streaks are snow flakes. The ambient temp was well below freezing.
    You can't see them, but there are 16 summer sausages behind all the snack sticks. This is the top smoke chamber (2' X 2' X 2'). The main smoke chamber (5' X 2') is also packed full.
    Last edited by Gunslinger; 10-05-2009 at 09:55 AM.

    Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. --Wyatt Earp

    Homebuilt using 150 gallon side water tank from concrete truck.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    Here they are cooled and cut up into 8 inch sticks. I also cut about 1/4 inch or so off the ends of each one for dog treats. My Boston terriers will do things they weren't trained to do for these.

    And again.

    So this is my method and it works for me. I'm sure I missed something. If so, point it out.
    With cure and smoke, you should be able to leave these out, but I still don't recommend it. I might leave them on the counter for a few days, but the kids gobble them up so fast I really don't have to worry about it.
    And if you'd like to know how many snack sticks you get from 125 lbs of meat, I didn't feel like counting that high. Actually I ran out of casing about 90 lbs into it and had to stuff the remainder into summer sausage casings.
    Last edited by Gunslinger; 10-05-2009 at 09:59 AM.

    Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. --Wyatt Earp

    Homebuilt using 150 gallon side water tank from concrete truck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Broken Arrow, OK


    Beautiful job, Tom. I've yet to try any kind of sausage making. Those sure look great. I'd eat it!

    Thank you very much for the tutorial.
    GOSM 3405
    UDS - One of a set of twins
    Custom Stick Burner - "Latifah".....(yeah, she's big and beautiful)
    Certified KCBS Judge

    Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
    -Mae West

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Central MN


    Looks good, I like your attention to sanitation. In the past, I have used a crome plated paint mixer and a drill for mixing, and have had OK results.
    22 inch weber
    20 cubic foot homebuilt smoker
    turkey fryer
    coleman stove
    If it burns, I can cook with it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    N.B Canada


    Tom those are some mighty fine lookin snack sticks .... making that much at once sure is alot of work .... great tutorial also by the way , should be of great use to those wanting to make some sausage ... nice job

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Santa Rosa Beach, Florida


    Thanks for an outstanding post! That really looks like some fine snacks and I can't imagine anyone better to share it with than those young helpers of yours. They remind me a lot of my daughter. We were very close and had some great times that we still enjoy reliving. Thanks again!!
    Florida Bill

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Exeter, MO


    Thanks Tom. Those look great!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Rogers, Ar.


    fine lookin snack sticks.

    3 UDS, Treager pellet pooper

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    San Jose, California, United States


    Those look great!

    18.5 Weber Smokey Joe Platinum
    22.5 Weber One Touch
    Ugly Drum

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Alright! I've been waiting on this one. Thanks!
    VDS aka "IT"
    Brinkman Smoke N Pit Pitmaster
    KCBS Certified BBQ Judge
    Formaly "The Q Joint" BBQ Team (The Butt Man)
    There's no place like


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