How We Make Our Snack Sticks
Nolechek’s snack sticks are hand crafted every step of the way to ensure attention to detail and the highest quality finished product. With over 10 varieties to choose from we guarantee that you’ll find something for everyone’s taste!
To end with a quality product, it is vital to start with the highest quality cuts for the meat block. The two cuts we use for our all beef snacks sticks come from the chuck primal which is the shoulder area. We use the whole muscle mock tender and shoulder clod because of their rich, beefy flavor and their leanness. The two cuts are ground and chopped with beef trim to ensure just the right ratio of lean-to-fat for the perfect bite.
Nolechek’s two all pork snack sticks, Honey Ham and Ham & Cheese are made with lean picnic trim that comes from the picnic shoulder and Boston shoulder primals.
After the meat block has been mixed with the seasoning and water and then chopped to the perfect consistency, it is stuffed into an edible collagen casing. Nolechek’s uses collagen casings for our snack sticks because they are safe and easy to use. Their consistent diameter and length make it quick to load on the stuffing tube. The mahogany color, combined with a tender, good bite makes the appearance and taste exactly what Nolechek’s expects in a finished product.
The meat is stuffed into long ropes and hung on smoke trucks. The snack sticks hang overnight in the cooler, to allow the flavors to come together. The next morning, the trucks of snack sticks are placed in the smokehouse. Nolechek’s utilizes data loggers, which continually record temperatures during the cooking and cooling process to ensure product safety.
After the cooking and cooling process, the snack sticks loose approximately 30% of their starting weight. This is because we dry them to our exact specifications and texture.
Next comes time to cut the snack sticks. We first trim the ends off the snack sticks to prepare them for the cutting die.
The long ropes are then placed in the cutting die. Nolechek’s cuts two lengths of snack sticks. A long, individual snack stick that is 1.7 oz. and a shorter stick that goes into a small package that contains 8 sticks and is 5 oz. Here is Caroline cutting the sticks for the 5 oz. packages.
After cutting, it’s time to package the sticks on our Rollstock machine. Our packaging machine makes it easy and fast to wrap 600# of snack sticks. With two people loading, someone labeling, and taking off, it goes fast. After the pockets are formed under the forming head, the snack sticks are loaded.
The machine moves the product to under the sealing head, where the top film adheres to the bottom and all the air is removed. After the product is sealed, we place a label on each package.
The product then moves to the cutters, which automatically cuts the packages. After the packages have been cut, they come off the machine on the conveyor.
The snack sticks then go into nesters for easy storage and access. All ready to be put out for sale and enjoyed by customers all over the country! What’s your favorite variety?