New To Forum -Fat Smearing???

K98 AL
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New To Forum -Fat Smearing???

Post by K98 AL » Tue May 31, 2016 15:54

New to the site - I hope y'all can help a floundering newbie.

Last week I made some hot links. 27/73 fat/meat ratio. I ground the fat through fine plate, then the meat. Mixed spices and meat/fat together, reground. Stuffed into good quality hog casings. Dried for a couple hours, smoked at 100-120 for four hours. Poached at 160 for 15 minutes, raised water temp to 175, checked IT after a total of 37 minutes in water - reached 160.
Sausages were watery/greasy - as in casings were not tight, it was as if meat stick was smaller, surrounded buy jacket of liquid contained by casing.

I've poached bratwurst like this with no problem - my first thought was smoking temp, drying casings....I don't know. I've about decided I screwed up with the fat.

I even cut a couple very small pieces of that same batch of fat, put in ziplock bag and poached to see what would happen....in short, nothing! I even let temp get to 200 and the fat did not melt. What's going on here??????
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Butterbean
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Post by Butterbean » Tue May 31, 2016 16:15

Its hard to say but my guess is you rendered the fat with heat. I had this happen once due to a faulty thermometer. I now try to always use two thermometers.

Also, when you ground the meat did it come out in individual strings like spaghetti on both grindings? Sometimes people neglect to re-chill the meat before the second grind and this can lead to problems. Sometimes this doesn't matter but sometimes it will make a big difference if the meat is not well chilled. If you had spaghetti like strings on both grindings I'd be more inclined to think its you thermometer or a problem with uneven heat when you heated them.
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Post by Bob K » Tue May 31, 2016 16:46

Like BB just said heat was more than likely the culprit and not fat smearing. 152° F is really the max temp needed for almost all cooked sausage, anything over 160 will cause the fat to break down. I would also poach at a lower temp, even though it takes a bit longer.

And also like BB said all thermometers are not accurate, it pays to get one you can calibrate.
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Post by K98 AL » Tue May 31, 2016 17:10

Butterbean wrote:Its hard to say but my guess is you rendered the fat with heat. I had this happen once due to a faulty thermometer. I now try to always use two thermometers.

Also, when you ground the meat did it come out in individual strings like spaghetti on both grindings? Sometimes people neglect to re-chill the meat before the second grind and this can lead to problems. Sometimes this doesn't matter but sometimes it will make a big difference if the meat is not well chilled. If you had spaghetti like strings on both grindings I'd be more inclined to think its you thermometer or a problem with uneven heat when you heated them.
Thermometers checked out. Fat wasn't frozen, but came out in nice strings. (maybe a coarser grind will help?)

Meat was partially frozen.

I really suspected that I left sausage in hot water too long, but after putting those small bits of fat in so long and nothing happening, I'm really scratching my head.
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Post by K98 AL » Tue May 31, 2016 17:11

Bob K wrote:Like BB just said heat was more than likely the culprit and not fat smearing. 152° F is really the max temp needed for almost all cooked sausage, anything over 160 will cause the fat to break down. I would also poach at a lower temp, even though it takes a bit longer.

And also like BB said all thermometers are not accurate, it pays to get one you can calibrate.
I thought about 160, but the book says 175-185, so I tried to follow instructions. I think I'll try the 160 next go round.
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Post by Bob K » Tue May 31, 2016 19:00

K98 AL wrote:Thermometers checked out. Fat wasn't frozen, but came out in nice strings. (maybe a coarser grind will help?)

Meat was partially frozen.
To prevent fat smearing it is best to:

Partially or semi freeze both the meat and the fat.
Grind the meat and fat together, not separately.
K98 AL wrote:I thought about 160, but the book says 175-185, so I tried to follow instructions. I think I'll try the 160 next go round.
The temp of the sausage should not exceed 160° F, 152° is all that is needed for safety
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Post by K98 AL » Tue May 31, 2016 19:21

Bob K wrote:
K98 AL wrote:Thermometers checked out. Fat wasn't frozen, but came out in nice strings. (maybe a coarser grind will help?)

Meat was partially frozen.
To prevent fat smearing it is best to:

Partially or semi freeze both the meat and the fat.
Grind the meat and fat together, not separately.
OK - so I'd want to cut fat into pieces, weigh, put in freezer to almost freeze, same with meat. Grind together, mix spices/cure, put in cooler for a while, regrind (or not?)

Lets sausages dry.

Smoke at 100-120 (can't get any cooler than that unless it's a cold day in winter)

Poach at 160F.

I am not arguing, y'all have experience and I sure don't, but I don't get why the book says poach at 175-185, when it states that I can't smoke at that high a temp?
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Post by Butterbean » Tue May 31, 2016 21:18

Grinding a second time is no big deal if the meat is good and cold. Problems happen when the meat is warmed by the first grind then ground again and warmed more which could cause smearing.

What they may be saying is this. When I poach meat I might bring the water to 185 then drop the sausages in the water and the water temp will drop really fast to around 160F and I hold it there. One thing you could do is use a crock pot as your poaching vessel. This will keep you from being overzealous with the heat. Also, have you tried just leaving the sausages in the smoker and gradually increasing the heat but not exceeding 175F? Most of what I make is done this way then they are followed by an ice bath.
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Post by Butterbean » Tue May 31, 2016 21:26

Also, when mixing be sure to mix till things begin to bind and you can see peaks when you take a handful and let it fall out of your hand. In other words it needs to be sticky feeling.
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Post by Bob K » Tue May 31, 2016 22:07

K98-

BTW welcome to the forum!

What book are you using for a reference.
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Post by redzed » Tue May 31, 2016 22:37

K98 AL, can you give use a few more details, or post the recipe or a link to it? Since you say "hot links" did you make an all beef sausage? What type of casings and diameter. How much water did you add to the mix and at what stage? Did you add at least 1.5% salt and and work it in well into the ground meat?
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Post by K98 AL » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:39

I'm using "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages".

Recipe is as follows (Sheep meat I'm using is very very lean, similar to venison):

mutton- 942 G
pork fat - 348
salt - 23.2
cure #1 - 3.2
cumin - 1.3
black pepper - 2.6
garlic powder - 5.2
dried cayenne - 11.6
ghost pepper - 1.9

I added no water. Your question did make me wonder - could some water be entering the casings through the small holes I pricked in them to remove air pockets?

I'm using natural hog casings - I purchased a good sized lot of them and have had no problems making boudin or bratwurst.

Thanks to all of you - I appreciate all the answers and ideas!
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Post by Butterbean » Wed Jun 01, 2016 17:57

have had no problems making boudin or bratwurst.
I assume you are using pork for these correct? If so, your comment about using mutton that is a lean as venison makes me wonder if its not more of a problem with your bind. Is it meat crumbly and greasy with liquid pockets of oil in them when cooked? If so, I'd be more inclined to think you didn't mix it well enough to coat the lean mutton meat. I know this is a common problem with people who try and make venison sausages. To remedy you can add some NFD milk to the mix and this will help or spend more tie mixing till you get plenty of peaks - and the meat needs to be cold where it hurts your hands when mixing.
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Post by K98 AL » Wed Jun 01, 2016 18:19

Butterbean wrote:
have had no problems making boudin or bratwurst.
I assume you are using pork for these correct? If so, your comment about using mutton that is a lean as venison makes me wonder if its not more of a problem with your bind. Is it meat crumbly and greasy with liquid pockets of oil in them when cooked? If so, I'd be more inclined to think you didn't mix it well enough to coat the lean mutton meat. I know this is a common problem with people who try and make venison sausages. To remedy you can add some NFD milk to the mix and this will help or spend more tie mixing till you get plenty of peaks - and the meat needs to be cold where it hurts your hands when mixing.
I use pork for boudin, venison with pork fat for bratwurst. Should I add water?

In another thread on this forum, a member said the cold internal temp being suddenly thrust into hot water would have a detrimental effect on the fat. Never thought about that.
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Post by Butterbean » Wed Jun 01, 2016 20:22

In another thread on this forum, a member said the cold internal temp being suddenly thrust into hot water would have a detrimental effect on the fat. Never thought about that.
I don't fully agree with that because this would mean my hotdogs would meet the same end and they don't. I do agree that fats and collagen begin to break down at 160F and things break down real fast at higher temps but we are talking about internal meat temps. For instance, if you drop 10 lbs of sausage into 175F water the water temp will drop almost instantly and I haven't seen any harm to the sausages when this is done.

In your case with the lean venison-like mutton I'd be more inclined to think you broke the bind or never formed a good one. Unlike pork, lean meats like venison do not have any intramuscular fat so getting a good bind can be difficult if you don't know what you are looking for. You also say you used a 27/73 mix but did you really? I assume you are measuring the just like you did with other things but if the mutton was really lean then there would be no intramuscular fat in this as there would be in the other meats. Basically what I'm saying is you are probably a bit low on the fat which makes getting a good mix more difficult. To make matters worse you ground the fat through the fine plate so you have a lump of lard that you then had to mix evenly across all the force meat and this can be difficult. I'm not saying it can't be done I'm just saying you are stacking the odds against you and its the sum of these little things that make the difference between a great sausage and a poor one.

Another thing that tells me you had a poor bind is your comment about the casing not clinging to the meat and the gap being filled with watery oil. This again tells me you didn't mix the meat well enough.

If you've ever made biscuits with lard or butter you know how hard it is to mix a spoon full of lard/butter with the flour. This essentially is what you are doing when you make sausages and you must coat each piece of protein with fat but when you are doing this you must keep the temps low so as not to break the fat down and cause smearing which leads to other problems.

Should you have added water? It may have helped with the mixing some but I think you just didn't take into consideration the leanness of the meat. I process a lot of venison and have eaten a lot of venison sausages made by weekend hobbyists and generally speaking most end up just like you are describing because they just don't get the importance of this bind and they are typically abiding by the 70/30 rule but not taking into consideration that the venison has absolutely no fat in it so more fat is needed to account for this and aid in the bind.

How to fix:

Add more fat (maybe 5% more) - soft fat not back fat - and grind it with the meat and chill your equipment and have the meat to the point where there is frost on the meat and your grinder throat frosts as you grind. If you don't want to add more fat, add some NFD milk. This is a good binder. Would work even better if you added a little more fat and use the NFD milk.
Mix well but only when the mince is so cold its uncomfortable to mix. Where it almost puts tears in you eyes. Wearing surgeon gloves helps a lot. Keep mixing till it turns sticky and a ball of it will almost cling to your hand and you see peaks. Oh, and make sure your blade is sharp and true.

If you do all these things I can pretty well guarantee you can make the recipe again with no problems. You can omit a few of these things and still be successful but it would be best to cover all these bases then experiment with what you find works best for you and your situation.

Here is a venison cheese hotlink. You can see the meat is bound with the casing well and the contents are all bound well also. The casing has plenty of snap and mince is smooth and meaty with plenty of juice and a nice smooth mouth feel. This is the result of getting a good bind with lean meat. Hope this helps.

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