Advanced Snack Stick Processing

Advanced Snack Stick Processing

Make the best homemade snack sticks with Walton's and Meatgistics using this advanced recipe! In this process we will go over all the little tips and tricks we know to help you make professional quality snack sticks using your Walton's home processing equipment. All the tips and tricks listed here will not make an enormous difference individually but when added up, they will go a long way to setting your snack sticks apart from the ones your buddies make once a year out of their deer!

Make the best homemade snack sticks with Walton's and Meatgistics using this advanced recipe! In this process we will go over all the little tips and tricks we know to help you make professional quality snack sticks using your Walton's home processing equipment. All the tips and tricks listed here will not make an enormous difference individually but when added up, they will go a long way to setting your snack sticks apart from the ones your buddies make once a year out of their deer!

Advanced Snack Stick Tips

Make the best homemade snack sticks with Walton's and Meatgistics using these advanced tips! In this blog post we will go over all the little tips and tricks we use to help you make professional quality snack sticks using your Walton's home processing equipment. The individual tips and tricks listed here will not make an enormous difference by themselves, but when added up they will go a long way to setting your snack sticks apart from the ones your buddies make once a year out of their deer!

Meat and Seasoning Block

Snack Sticks can be made from almost any animal protein. Wild game works almost as well as any farm raised animal if you practice good butchering processes and use the correct ingredients, additives and quality pork fat. Snack sticks are a semi dried product, so we want to avoid using Carrot Fiber as a binder, unless we are looking for a juicier snack stick.

The majority of Excalibur Snack Stick Seasonings are designed to season 25 lb batches. For this class we are going to consider the weight of the seasoning and other additives (aside from cheese) as part of our meat block. So, if we choose seasoning and additives that total 3 lb we will only use 22 lb of meat. This will give us a more intense flavor, if you like a milder snack stick but want to still follow this advanced process, simply use 25 lb of meat.

Equipment and Supplies

For this process you will need both a quality grinder, like a Walton's #8, #12, #22, or #32 Processing Grinder, a 20 or 50 lb Meat Mixer, and a Sausage Stuffer. Buying preground meat can be substituted for grinding your own, but it needs to be freshly gound, and the final grind must be through a 1/8" plate.

Meat Preparation Tips

Sanitize everything

Some of the bacteria we will be worrying about here can duplicate every 20 minutes, meaning within 8 hour a single cell can become over 8 million cells! If you have a hard time believing that here is the math, every - represents 20 minutes passing. 1 - 2 - 4 - 8 - 16 - 32 - 64 - 128 - 256 - 512 - 1,024 - 2,048 - 4,096 - 8,192 - 16,384 - 32,768 - 65,536 - 131,072 - 262,144 - 524,288 - 1,048,576 - 2,097,152 - 4,194,304 - 8,388,608. 23 - and each dash represents 20 minutes, so that gives us 7.6 hours and over 8 million bacteria cells!

Know your enemy

Throughout the entire grinding, mixing, and stuffing process heat will be the enemy, we want to do anything we can to keep the temperature of the meat cold. This means lowering the temperature in your processing room to as cold as you can, or planning well and leaving the meat out of the refrigerator for as little time as possible. Cut meat into pieces small enough to easily fit down the grinder throat and be grabbed by the auger without having to use the stomper.

"Freeze" before grinding

We want to freeze the meat to a point where the meat has a good amount of rigidity to it. We do not want to freeze it solid, but we also want it to retain its shape when we press on the meat with our fingers. If the meat is still pliable and soft return to the freezer until it is partially frozen. Meat does not freeze at 32° F like water, so an internal temp of around 28° F for your meat is a good target temperature.

Grinding Tips

White oil is your friend!

White Oil is a highly refined mineral oil that is a great lubricant for all the equipment we will be using today. At just a few dollars for a 4 oz. bottle of it there is no reason to not always have some on hand. You will want to oil the side of the plate that will come in contact with the knife and oil the sharp edges of your knife. Having these two surfaces come into contact with no lubrication will cause friction which will heat up your plates, damaging your meat and causing unnecessary wear and tear on the plates and knives, shortening their lives.

Marry your plate and knife

Grinder Plates and Knives should be "married" together. This means that one plate should always be used with the same knife. Grinders generally come with 1 knife and 2 plates, meaning you should always be buying an extra knife when you buy a grinder. Failure to marry a plate to a knife will result in uneven wear and the plates and the knife will dull more quickly.

Prepare for the 2nd grind

Your first grind will be through a 3/8" plate and if your meat is cut properly, and partially frozen this should be the work of just a few minutes. Once the meat has been ground once the second grind is going to take significantly longer. This is because the auger is no longer able to get a grip on the large chunks and push it down to the plate and knife as efficiently. If your meats temperature climbs above 30° F or to the point that it no longer has any rigidity to it you should place it back in the freezer until it is very slightly stiff. Since the meat is already broken down the meat will freeze very quickly, we do not want to freeze it solid, just get a good crust on it. Once your meat is ready for that second grind

Mixing Tips

Get a mixer!

The Walton's 20 lb, or 50 lb Meat Mixers are almost essential for making a great snack stick. During the mixing process we are doing a few things, obviously we need to evenly distribute the seasoning, water and additives throughout the meat, but we also need to get the proper level of protein extraction without overly smearing the fat. This is very difficult to do if you are trying to mix by hand as by the time you have worked the meat enough to achieve protein extraction you have almost certainly begun to smear your fat.

What is Protein Extraction?

Proteins start to extract as soon as we add salt to the meat and begin to work it. The proteins begin to stick together and become tacky and sticky. With the proteins binding together it will act almost like a Velcro around the fat, which will help keep the fat in the meat instead of allowing it to simply render out of the meat. If you added enough fat and ended up with a dry somewhat tasteless snack stick you probably did not get enough protein extraction and the fat rendered out of the product. As we all know, fat is flavor! It melts as you chew it and coats your mouth, allowing you to taste the flavor of the seasoning more intensely and for a longer period of time.

Let the machine do the work!

The Walton's 50 lb Meat Mixers will hook up to the Walton's #12, #22, or #32 processing grinders and the motor will spin the mixer for you! This makes this process simple, all you need to do is hook it up, turn it on and monitor the progress, you don't need to spin the handle!

Stuffing Tips

Collagen has a direction

Collagen Casings come in long runs that are compressed down so that as much of the casings as possible can fit on the stuffing tube. These casings are compressed in a way that they look like a stack of bowls. You want to load them onto the stuffing so that as the meat fills the casing, and the casing comes off of the stuffing tube the bowls are being unstacked by "lifting" one bowl out from another.

Take all the air out

As you are loading the cannister of your Walton's Sausage Stuffer you want to make sure no air pockets are created in the meat. If there are air pockets in the cannister you will push that air out into the casing, causing problems during the cooking process. To help prevent air pockets you should load them in alternating angled levels. When you put your first "level" of meat in you want to leave it at a slope, so one side of the bottom of the cannister is almost visible, and the meat on the other side will be about 4-5" high. Then the next level should alternate, so the low side is now the high side. Continue to push down on the meat with your fist as you continue to add meat.

Thermal Processing Tips

Start low

You want to start the thermal processing within 20° F of the animals living temperature to avoid overstressing the proteins. This almost always means 120°F or thereabouts. If you have a smoker that will not start that low, then you should load your meat into your smoker before you turn it on. As the smoker gets up to temperature your meat will be able to have more time near the ideal initial cooking temperature.

Don't smoke, at least not right away.

For the first 60 minutes you do not want to add any smoke, or humidity. This is a conditioning or drying phase where we are trying to properly dry the outside of the casing and adding smoke or humidity can cause issues here.

Add Humidity to get past the stall

We've covered this in a previous blog post HERE but by adding humidity to your smoker you will get past the stall quicker as it will be harder for the moisture coming off of the meat to cool itself.

ICE BATH ONLY

A cold water bath is NOT the same as an ice-bath! An ice-bath helps stop the cooking process quickly and helps set the collagen to the meat. With a cold water bath, you are not stopping the cooking process as quickly and you are far more likely to have the casing separate from the meat.

20th Jun 2022 Jon Tremblay

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