Making Deer Snack Sticks

When you've finished reading this page, you'll see that making deer snack sticks is an easy way to turn ground venison into tasty meat snacks. For the best results, there's one tool that you should get.

An extrusion tool is a must-have item if you plan to make deer sticks. Hand rolling the meat would take forever, and unless the formed sticks are perfectly even in diameter, the dehydrating results will be less than perfect.

Making Deer Snack Sticks

Combining the Ingredients

Curing Mix in Snack Sticks

Deer sticks contain salt and seasonings, and usually include a curing mixture of some kind, like Morton® Tender Quick® Cure Mix. The curing mix serves two purposes...

  • It improves the texture and flavor of the finished product, and
  • Retards bacterial growth

To ensure that deer snack sticks are safe to eat, it's important to include curing mix in the recipes you use. Some types of bacteria can make a person very ill, or can even cause death. So play it safe when making snack sticks and use a curing mix.

Mixing It Up

If a snack stick recipe includes more than one type of ground meat, combine those together first. And don't be afraid to use your hands to do the mixing. Squishing and kneading with hands and fingers is an extremely effective mixing method. Wear plastic gloves if you like.

After combining the ground meats, the salt and curing mix are added. Thoroughly mix in these ingredients. Be sure to use a plastic, glass, or stainless steel container when mixing and refrigerating meat and other foods, especially acidic foods. Aluminum pans and containers can react with food, adding metallic flavors you don't want.

The curing mix needs time to work and "cure" the meat. Refrigerating the meat for up to three days allows the meat to cure. Twice a day, the meat should again be thoroughly mixed as it cures in the fridge, to be sure that every particle of ground meat comes in contact with the curing mix.

The remaining ingredients are usually added when the snack stick mixture is mixed for the last time. The flavors of the spices and seasonings will be fresher tasting and more pronounced if they're added near the end of the process.

It's best to mix the remaining ingredients together first, before adding to the ground meat. Make sure to mix the seasonings thoroughly into the meat. Five minutes of mixing is not too long. Mixing distributes the flavors, plus it helps improve the texture of the snack sticks. After the final mix, allow the seasoned meat an hour or two to rest, so the flavors can absorb into the venison.

Forming Deer Snack Sticks

The best way to form the snack sticks is to use a jerky gun, a sausage stuffer, or a meat grinder with a sausage tube attachment. Use either a 1/2 inch or the 3/8 inch size tube for forming the rounds. The 3/8 inch size will dry a little quicker than the 1/2 inch diameter size.

Dehydrating Deer Snack Sticks

Place the formed venison onto lightly oiled dehydrator trays or on a cookie sheet if drying in the oven. The rounds can be laid directly on the grate of a meat smoker, or smoke-dried on a cookie sheet other flat pan.

Snack Stick Drying In a Food Dehydrator

If using a dehydrator, the trays should be rotated hourly if the dehydrator has no fan, or a fan in the bottom. If the fan is in the rear of the dehydrator, it's usually not necessary to rotate the trays. It normally takes six to eight hours to dry snack sticks. Follow the manufacturers instructions for best results.

Oven Drying Snack Sticks

An oven should be set at 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit to dry the snack sticks. If it can't be set that low, just run it at it's lowest temperature. Leave the door cracked open a bit for the moisture to escape. Allow four to six hours drying time in the oven.

Drying Snack Sticks In a Meat Smoker

Meat smokers can be used when making deer snack sticks, too. Maintain the temperature at a minimum of 150 degrees. Try not to let the temperature rise above 200 degrees. Smoke the snack sticks lightly...too much smoke will give the venison a bitter, unpleasant taste.

Oak and hickory are good choices for smoking wood. The light flavor of alder and apple works very well, too. Drying time in a smoker depends on the temperature of the smoke chamber. It could take from a couple hours to eight hours...the sticks are done when firm but still pliable.

Food Safety and Snack Sticks

It's important to cook safely, especially when dehydrating foods. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service provides good information about safely preparing jerky and dried meat. The FSIS recommends that meat be heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before the meat is dried.

Bacteria is killed with moist heat. The normal dehydrating process used for making jerky and snack sticks doesn't get the meat this warm before it's dry. Please visit food Safety of Jerky to learn the safest method of preparing jerky and snack sticks.

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