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Twelvegaugepump 01-06-2013 08:53 AM

Hot sticks casing question
I took my first shot yesterday at making my own sausage. We shot a few deer this year and are fed up with the cost of processing, and since I had all but a stuffer, we embarked on this journey. Instead of ruining venison, which is harder to come by than beef, I tried my hand at beef hot sticks in an attempt to get the flavor right and process down.

The flavor turned out great with what I tried, but I am disappointed with the casings. I used collagen casings and ended up pulling all of them off this morning since they were chewy in spots and came off in your mouth in others. Any suggestions on what I did wrong? I am thinking of switching to lamb/sheep to see if that helps.

My process:
I smoked the sticks for an hour around 125 degrees. I then bumped the temp to around 175 and smoked them until they hit 152 internal temp, which was about an hour and a half later. I then plunged them in cold water for a minute to cool them and hung them in the garage with a fan on them for about 2 hours. I cut them and put them on a cookie sheet in the fridge, uncovered, overnight.

I did notice some fat pooling in between the casings and the meat. Did I raise the temp too fast? Was the water bath a dumb idea? Should I just go with natural casings? Flavor is great, I just want to get the "snap" in the chew correct now.

Thanks in advance.

kw 01-06-2013 09:22 AM

Did you mix pork with the venison? If so, how fatty was it? What was the ratio of pork to venison?

I used sheep casings when making Kabanosy, which some say is the original meat stick. While they are expensive they are worth it.

It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong from the temps you listed.


Twelvegaugepump 01-06-2013 09:41 AM

I used 85/15 beef exclusively for this test run. Plan is to mix pork with the venison once I make those. Wondering if the water bath and a 20 degree garage with a fan blowing on the casings cooled them too quickly. Or are things usually set with the casings by then? Maybe sheep casings are a better plan?

bigabyte 01-06-2013 09:44 AM

I have always had that problem with collagen snack stick casings as well. Looking forward to solutions.:thumb:

Big Mike 01-06-2013 09:50 AM

Natural Sheep casings would be best. I bought some collagen casings and was not happy with them at all.

Don't know if this is the case or not, but if you had fat pooling, it sounds like you may not have filled the casings quite enough.

columbia1 01-06-2013 09:54 AM

Collagen casings are great to learn with, lamb casing are awesome BUT, are a total pain in the arse when dealing with any quantity(over 10#). I never used to cuss until using sheep casings ;)
They are still my preferred though, just make sure you have a six-pack near-by.

Twelvegaugepump 01-06-2013 10:02 AM

Thanks colombia. Being prepared with a few mental lubricants will not be an issue. I will look into using sheep and ensure that they are full. What is the biggest issue you have run into? I plan to do about 20lbs so I want to know what I am getting myself into. Thanks!

cheapbeer 01-06-2013 10:07 AM

I tried stuffing sheep casings with venison breakfast sausage once. I stuffed a few lbs.,found out that it is much more difficult to stuff than hog casings so I just wrapped the rest up in 1 lb.packages as bulk sausage. Nothing but hog casings from now on, Brat size sausage for me.

columbia1 01-06-2013 10:08 AM

Sheep casing average only 6-8' in lenght and many times have pin-holes which result in blow-outs, then there is the problem of getting them on the stuffer horn, soak them in water overnight and apply a little vegetable oil on the horn helps!!

IamMadMan 01-06-2013 07:32 PM

I have made snack sticks for many years, venison as well as beef. The first few times I made them, I had a similar problem. During the smoking process the collagen casings would pull away from the meat as it dried. I would have to strip the sticks to have a presentable product so others would not be afraid to try what looked like a mistake.

I found that after stuffing them, let them dry for two to six hours uncovered in the refrigerator. The moisture passes through the collagen and the casing begins to adhere to the meat. Now when you smoke, the casing shrinks with the meat and will resemble a "Slim Jim" in appearance. This makes a much more presentable product. The drying time becomes dependent upon the amount of water added to the sausage mixture.

The Sausage Maker in Buffalo, NY ( also sells a casing pricker to help the drying of sausages.

Twelvegaugepump 01-06-2013 08:12 PM

Thanks mad man. I will try that next time. I did not dry prior to smoking.

Chef Country 01-06-2013 09:40 PM

yep let them rest that will be you ticket, I also do this to my summer sausage in fibrous casing. I a quick soak afterwords on snack sticks is enough to stop the cooking process, also when you grind your meat make sure its cold, I normally have the head to my grinder in the freezer a few hrs before grinding. Same goes for stuffing you want the meat to be cold when you stuff.

Yellowhair42 01-07-2013 12:25 PM

I'll add that grease pockets form where air bubbles were.Yes sheep casing is very delicate and full of holes.Try stuffing when you have hundreds of pounds to do and can't drink.Also if you let rest before smoking you won't have to shower after the cook.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke 01-07-2013 01:52 PM

Conditioning collagen casings overnight in a moist environment such as the refrigerator prior to stuffing them should solve your problem.

Here is a helpful video from Hi Mountain.

Twelvegaugepump 01-07-2013 02:07 PM

Thanks. Another great suggestion.

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