Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

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Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby br549 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 3:26 am

Hello all,
I am a 40 + year veteran of making sausage at our family business where we have a Mom and Pop meat packing plant.
Can anyone tell me what would make my snack sticks turn gray at the bottom ??
This is a dry cured product smoked with hickory.
In all my years of sausage making I've never had this happen...What could cause this ?? Bacteria ??

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Thanks
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Re: Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby NCPaul » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:19 pm

Welcome to the forum. You'll need to give us more of an idea of your process and recipe.
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Re: Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby NCPaul » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:32 pm

I think from what you posted on the other forum that you have a pH problem, can you measure that?
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Re: Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby wheels » Sun Mar 05, 2017 7:26 pm

Welcome.

Looking at the void in the sausage (I'm assuming that with all your years experience that the void isn't a stuffing issue!). It looks like a problem during fermentation. NCPaul?

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Re: Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby DanMcG » Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:31 am

The fact that it's only happening on the exposed ends makes me think it's bacterial thing. More details would help.

Looking at the pic with the sticks in your hand, they look flattened out? Is that how they dried or were they squeezed like that? How much water was added to the mix?
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Re: Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby br549 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:10 pm

Thanks for adding me to the forum !!!!

Here is the process for 100 lbs. smokies:
50 lbs. 90% beef trim
50 lbs. 72%-75% pork pics

grinding plate is 3/16 ( Biro grinder)
we double grind all sausages
meat temp at time of mixing is around 38 F
spice ingredients: salt,corn syrup solids,spices,msg,garlic,spice extractive, not more than 1% soy bean oil added to prevent caking, 4 ozs. speed cure (6.22% nitrite)
Seasoning weighs 5 lbs. 14 ozs.
I put about a quart of distilled water in my mixing bucket, put the speed cure in the water and dilute it
then I add the seasoning and make a soupy, slurry out of it and pour it over the meat.
I have a Mainca 200 mixer that is set to run 5- 30 second mixing cycles, then it runs 5- 23 second kneading cycles. The mixer alternates the cycles,mixing /kneading/mixing /kneading and does that 5 times. BTW, I do not use a starter culture....

In the past I have had to add more water to get the snack sticks to flow better through my Mainca hyd. stuffer.( I have to add at least 2 gallons of water per 200 lbs. of deer smokies to get them to flow at a reasonable rate out of my stuffer or I would be there stuffing all day, BUT I have never had a batch of smokies go bad no matter how much water I added.) BTW, I would never recommend a Mainca stuffer.......

The snack sticks are stuffed in 21 mm clear collagen casings.
We loop the stuffed smokies over poles and cut them at the bottom of the loop to make a 9" long stick.
I put the smokies in my incubation room which is around 62 degrees F and around 40% humidity and let them in the room over night.
Next morning I put them in my smoke house that is made of glazed tile.
Start my fire using hickory wood only.
I keep the fire low ,temp around 60-70 degrees and gradually build the heat up to 90 ish over a 5 hour period. I only need to smoke them for 5 hours or less.

I then place the smokies in my drying room until they are dried down.
I do not have a PH meter but we had the Purina labs test our product last year,.
results are as follows:
PH level-4.87

We have an old plant folks and in 99 years of business we have never had any formal training in butchering,sausage making,etc. We learned what we know the hard way and when it comes to sausage making we do the same thing,the same way week after week and it always turned out great until a month ago.

I am at my wits end trying to figure out what is going wrong with my snack sticks.
I have steamed,bleached,high alkaline treated,and scrubbed everything involved in my process and it still turns out the same.
You can see in one of the pics how the color is grayish and in the gray areas the stick actually hollows out. What is really weird is when you pick up a pair of sticks that are connected, one side has the grayness and the other side isn't as bad.

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In the first pic you can see my sticks after sitting overnight in my incubation room. the stick on the left has basically the same seasoning only it contains sodium erythorbate. the stick on the right is the stick made with the previously mentioned recipe.
Can you see the gray ring around the edge of the stick on the right ?
This never happened until a month ago....

If you need more info , let me know.
Thanks again for all the input. I'm very glad I found the forum !!!!
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Re: Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby br549 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:41 pm

DanMcG wrote:The fact that it's only happening on the exposed ends makes me think it's bacterial thing. More details would help.

Looking at the pic with the sticks in your hand, they look flattened out? Is that how they dried or were they squeezed like that? How much water was added to the mix?


The flat looking sticks is because I have to dry them too fast to keep up with demand sometimes.
Normally I like to dry them around 65 F.

I only add enough water to dilute my seasoning. Sometimes I have to add much more water to get the deer smokies to flow at a reasonable rate......I use a Mainca 200 stuffer, and I would not recommend it ....

I too think it is an air born problem, but we have steamed ,bleached,used high alkaline cleaner (floors) on all of the equipment and still have a problem.
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Re: Need help ,snack sticks turning gray.....

Postby RodinBangkok » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:51 am

It looks to me like oxidation, you might try adding antioxidant, the myoglobin may be oxidizing related to airpockets in the stuffed product or exposure to air before processing. Google meat oxidation for more info and antioxidants to try.

The fact your modifying your process due to time constraints leads me to believe you may be modifying other process steps also, if this problem has just arose.

It's very important you don't change your process to meet schedule demands, instead adjust your production capacities to compensate.
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