How To Make Homemade Snack Sticks
Learn how to make homemade snack sticks with Walton's and Meatgistics. Watch the video, read the guide, and then post your questions or comments below
What Is A Snack Stick?
Snack Sticks are a meat snack and semi-dried sausage that are stuffed into a small diameter casing. Typically a collagen casing is used, but it is also acceptable to use natural casings or even make skinless snack sticks. Most snack sticks have a low pH from around 4.5 to 5.2, which is what gives them that familiar tangy flavor and is what helps aid in shelf stability. Another aid for shelf stability is a low water activity, which means binding water in the meat snacks to make it unavailable to support microbial growth. Water activity is not something that can be measured by a home meat processor, but we still set up our process and thermal processing to attempt to achieve a lower water activity. Snack sticks can be made from just about any type of meat, from beef, pork, chicken, other poultry, wild game, or a combination of meats. Walton’s recommends using a lean to fat ratio of at least 80/20, and many times a 30% fat ratio, with a maximum of 40% fat. Fat is where most of your flavor comes from so changing your lean to fat ratio will change the overall taste and mouthfeel of your product.
25lb 80/20 beef trim 1
1 package Excalibur Snack Stick Seasoning
1oz Sure Cure 2
6oz Sure Gel Meat Binder 3
4oz Encapsulated Citric Acid 4
2 to 3 lb High Temperature Cheese
19mm Collagen Casings
1 Quart Ice Cold Water 5
Start the initial grind with a 3/8in (10mm) grinder plate, then grind a second time through a 1/8in (3mm) grinder plate. Always use a sharp grinder knife and plate. This will help you retain a better particle definition, color, and help prevent any smearing of the meat. If you cannot easily distinguish the lean from the fat when grinding, then it may be time for a new grinder plate and knife.
Using a meat mixer is preferred to hand mixing when making snack sticks. We need to make sure we get a lot of protein extraction, and that is a bit more difficult to achieve in hand mixing but still a possibility to do if you don’t have an actual meat mixer. We are going to want to mix for about 8 minutes, and we’ll want to reverse the direction of the mixing paddles every 1 minute. When you start the mixer, just start adding all the ingredients, except the Encapsulated Citric Acid and High Temp Cheese. These last two ingredients can be added in the last 45-60 seconds of the cycle, or just long enough to evenly disperse. Over mixing Encapsulated Citric Acid could lead to breaking the encapsulate and over mixing the cheese can lead to smearing and loss of shape.
Avoid creating air pockets when you load your sausage stuffer and begin stuffing until the casings are full with a smooth exterior. We will stuff into as long of ropes as we can, and then we’ll cut them to length when we actually hang on smoke sticks in the smokehouse.
For information on adding humidity to your smoke schedule go HERE
Either hang on smoke sticks or lay on racks in your smokehouse or oven. Just be sure to leave a slight gap between the snack sticks. A simple cooking schedule you can follow is here:
125F for 1 hour
140F for 1 hour
155F for 2 hours
175F until internal meat temp of 160F
To help set the casing to the meat and also prevent wrinkling we need to shower the snack sticks when they are done cooking or put them in an ice water bath. It should only take around 10 minutes to get the temperature to drop down. Then, we’ll let them set out for about 1 hour before moving to the refrigerator/freezer. After we are totally done with the cooling process, then we will package in vacuum pouches for longer term storage.
It’s easy to get the basics on making snack sticks, but practice does make perfect. Walton’s has everything you need (except the meat) to make great snack sticks, plus we have the knowledge to help you perfect your own process. If you have any questions or need help in your process, please share your questions or comments below.
- Using a binder like Carrot Fiber, or Soy Protein Blend will not change how much water you put into your product.
- Place a small pan of water in the bottom of smokehouse during the entire cooking cycle to help increase humidity
If your smoker, smokehouse, dehydrator, or oven cannot reach temperatures as low as 125F, just start as low as possible and slowly increase the temperature over time
1. Or use 18 lb wild game meat and 7 lb pork fat or beef fat, though beef fat will have different texture and taste (Return to text)
2. Sure Cure packet is included with seasoning (Return to text)
3. Instead of Sure Gel also try 4 oz of Carrot Fiber (Return to text)
4. If you do not use a cure accelerator like Encapsulated Citric Acid or Smoked Meat Stabilizer, then after it has been stuffed into its casing hold in a refrigerator for approximately 12 hours or overnight (Return to text)
5. For Home Processors 2 Qts Will Make Stuffing Easier (Return to text)
Watch WaltonsTV: How To Make Snack Sticks