Snack Sticks 101: Adding Value to Pork

( Jennifer Shike, Farm Journal's PORK )

What goes into making a snack stick? Doug Hankes of Thrushwood Farms in Galesburg, Ill., says you need high-quality pork, the right flavor combinations, and a little science to create this added-value product that is gaining popularity in the snack industry as more and more people are looking for protein-rich snack foods. 

Hankes took Farm Journal PORK’s editor Jennifer Shike on a step-by-step tour of the process. 

Step 1
Step 1: Gather seasonings, encapsulated citric acid, salt and celery juice powder (natural) or sodium nitrite (traditional).

Step 4
Step 2: Weigh pork trimmings, typically consisting of boneless picnics or pork shoulders. 

Step 3
Step 3: Run the meat for through the grinder. For this first run, use only meat.

Step 3
 Step 4: Blend all the seasonings together for even distribution.

Step 5
Step 5: Add seasoning to pork trim. 

Step 6
Step 6: Run meat through the grinder for the second time, including both the seasoning and the meat 

Step 7 
Step 7: Stuff sausage into snack stick casing. Each casing if stuffed to approximately 50” in length.
Step 8
Step 8: Each smoke truck contains 2,400 feet of snack sticks. Place the snack sticks in the oven and cook for 5 to 6 hours depending on the product. 

Step 12
Step 9: Cut the snack sticks to the customer’s specifications. 
Step 13
Step 10: Place finished product in container until its ready for packaging.

Step 11
Step 11: Place product in horizontal thermo-forming machine per customer’s requirements. Snack sticks are either placed in multi-packs or individually packaged. 
Step 12
Step 12: Mission complete – enjoy the finished product!

Related Articles:

Thrushwood Farms: The People Behind the Pork

Building a Snack Stick Empire