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NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:13 am
by badjak
I am not sure if this is in the right category, just figured "beginners" is the catchall place to be.

I am looking at making snack sticks according to NCPaul's recipe/method.
Just to avoid cluttering his thread, I figured it was better to start my own.

I have just grabbed a piece of sheep casing and put it into water to see how long I should actually soak it to make it do what I want it to do. I remember working with sheep casing being a bit of a pain.

The temperatures at my place are between 20 oC (night time) and 30 oC day time at the moment, with a humidity (I estimate) of 85%+ at night and 75% at daytime.
I have the use of a fridge (drinks fridge) and a controller. So can set the fridge at most temperatures. It's a fridge with quite a high RH and a glass door.
I also have a box I use to make biltong. Made out of wood, with fine mesh in the front, and a light at the bottom to ensure airflow.
With my temperatures, I might be able to ferment the sticks in this box? Without the light on?

I got both T-SPX and F-LC.
They are both in sealed packages in the freezer and are a couple year old.
Which would be the best to use and in what dose?
I was thinking of 2-3 times the dose NCPaul used, just to make sure that they still work. The dose Jeff Weiss suggests seems very high.

I do have destrose.
I don't have sherry, but I got shiaoxing rice wine (it's a strange world if you can get rice wine, but no dry sherry).

I got a normal soil pH meter for testing.

For meat: I got pork chops, and belly pork fat. Looking at the recipe the fuel seems to contain about 40% fat?
Based on that I will be looking at about 30-40% fat content.
Cure looks like it's 150 ppm. I think anything between 120-150 ppm should be fine?
Salt seems high at 2.8%, I do realise that salt is necessary for safety and making sure the weight loss takes place quick enough. I will keep it as per recipe. But if I do find the sticks too salty, could I safely reduce?

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:30 pm
by NCPaul
These are good questions. :D

I try to soak sheep casing for at least 4 hours. Knots are almost impossible for me to untie, so I'm careful about pulling on them.

I use mostly F-LC and would be inclined to ferment with your nighttime temperatures and humidity. T-SPX I believe likes the warmer temperatures. I think an increase in dose to a multiple of what I used is a good idea. I would give the culture 0.3-0.4 % dextrose. I would dry the sticks in the cold fridge. I'm usually at about 30 % weight loss after a week of drying. If you are at the upper end of the fat content, this may be as far as you get.

The salt is high but still makes a fine snack stick. In my recipes I like setting the salt at 2.3 % and haven't made anything at less than this. I typically use cure #1 at 150 ppm having gone to the school of wheels. :D

I'm eager to see how you do with this.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:00 pm
by badjak
I just looked at the timeI have in the coming week, so it's all going to happen after Easter.
Meanwhile, I'll be monotoring temperature and RH.

How do I know how long to ferment?
Do you ferment to a certain pH?

By the way, I just started reading Marianski's "the art of making fermented sausages"

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:55 pm
by NCPaul
I like for the pH to be 5.3 or less. The pH is directly controlled by the amount of available sugar for the culture. The Marianskis' book is great.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:40 am
by badjak
My one fridge is pretty stable around 85% RH, even when we had a powercut yesterday.
It seems to hold that humidity at all temperatures.
So the plan is to set it for 24 oC and use F-LC as starter. The fridge will go off at nigh and work a bit at daytime.
Found this online about starters and working temperatures: ... 20Uses.pdf

I may be overthinking things, but heck, this will be the first time doing fermented sausages.
Mincing etc should be done with cold meat and mincer materials etc, but I assume that once the spices, cure and starter are mixed in, it is not necessary to keep things cool as you want the fermentation to take place?

Should the starter be taken out of the freezer a bit before doing anything else to get it to room temperature (to activate), maybe mixed with the liquid?.

And just wondering as it is difficult to get starters here: I have a sourdough starter in the fridge. Would it be possible to use some mixed with meat as an alternative?

Already looking at a next project as well (if this goes OK): Saucisson sec
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Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:27 pm
by NCPaul
You can add the culture to a small amount of water if you wish (I add it directly to the mix after the salt and spices are incorporated). Keep the bulk of the culture in the freezer.

Sourdough cultures have (possibly) some of the right bacteria but also a large population of yeasts. Some have tried active yogurt cultures but I couldn't recommend that either.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:35 am
by badjak
My projest is still ongoing.
Been checking all my fridges for temperature and humidity and there have been some surprises.
The fridge that I though was quite cold actually varies in temperature between 3 and 7 oC with an RH of 32-45%. This is also my newest fridge.
The other one sits around 0 oC and is quite stable (RH 41 %). I keep my bacon, cheese, dried ham etc in this one.
The one I am going to use initially sits at 85% RH at almost all temperatures.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:34 am
by badjak
I finally got around to making fuet sticks.

They are now hanging in my fridge (fridge is off, outside temperature is 25 oC, fridge temp is the same. Hope it maintains it reasonably well at night time as we are having a bit of a cold spell (min temp 13 oC)).

My pH meter indicates that everything has a pH of 7. Inclusive of vinegar and milk, so that's not very helpful.
Going to have to work with pH paper.
What's the best part here: 1 part meat, mixed with 1 part water and then measure?
I put a small bowl (unvovered) with some mince in the same fridge as the sauasages.

I also misjudged the amount of casing needed, so now I got seasoned/spiced ground meat left over.
Can I just fry and eat it (it contains cure #1. I can't see the F-LC culture doing any harm).
I put the left over meat in the fridge for now (a proper fridge).

And getting the sheep casing on the stuffer is an absolute mission. Luckily I got stainless steel tubes and I found that the only way to do it is in a bowl with water and the tap water running through the casing

I'll post a picture once I have uploaded them.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:21 am
by badjak
The pH doesn't seem to drop much....
Should I leave the sausages at the higher temperature or move them to the (working) fridge?
Or am I just to impatient?

temperatures have been around 18-27 oC

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:14 am
by NCPaul
I would move at 48 hrs. Without a pH meter, it will be difficult to know where the pH really is. The sticks should develop some color and aroma by this time.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 7:21 am
by badjak
I have moved them.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 6:37 am
by badjak
Quick update:
My fridge was a bit on the wet side (high RH), but the sticks did dry out.
The difference between what you see and think that happens and what you measure is quite interesting...
After 13 days they had lost 36 to 41% in weight.
I carefully tasted a little piece. Tasty, quite peppery and a bit salty for me. Quite addictive though.
I am going to leave them a little longer as I like them a bit drier.
I assume that lowering the salt is not an option (safety)?

Once they are done to my liking, I will start playing with my fridge to turn it into a more proper drying/curing device.

Slightly off topic:
I dislike working with sheep casing. Maybe because of the type I get here and would way prefer hog casing.
Now, I have seen a recipe that uses pork casings and a farily simple drying chamber. I would like to try that, but am not sure if I am allowed to link to it (it's on another (reputable) forum).
I would like all of your input though

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 10:40 am
by NCPaul
I would advise against lowering the salt level as you are preserving a meat product. The drying amount is something of a taste and texture preference but can be effected by the quality of the meat, the ratio of lean to fat, whether of not beef is included, the pH after fermentation and a few other factors as well. :D I'm glad you liked the taste and now have a framework to make your own snack sticks. The process you followed is similar to what salami requires without the equipment and time inputs. Redzed's recipe is fine, but be aware that the larger you go up in casing size, the more closely controlled the drying conditions will need to be to avoid case hardening.

Re: NCPaul's snack sticks- questions

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 11:31 am
by badjak
It is indeed Redzed's recipe ;)
But before attempting anything, I will be working on fine tuning humidity in my fridge