Most people have heard of a Landjeager, as it seems this European style fermented sausage has found its way around many parts of the world. Here at Valbella’s, Walter has been making Landjeager’s for over 40 years. Anyone that has lived in Canmore long enough knows if you want a good Landjeager, Valbella’s is your spot. But what about Valbella’s sidekick to the Landjeager, the infamous black Chimney stick? Personally, its one of my favourite Valbella products and out of the over 300 products we make that says a lot!
The term Chimney sticks comes from the original name of the sausage, “Buure Schublig”. “Schublig” is a type of sausage and “Burre” meaning farmer or “Burrenhof” meaning farm. But to say that’s its simply called a farmer’s sausage would be misleading. It gets its name because of how and where it was smoked on old central European farms. Just like Valbella’s keeps its old school cold smokehouse constantly and ever so slightly smouldering away to achieve a constant level of thick natural smoke, the old barns of the past did the same. Smoke was made in a wood stove kept on the main level of the barn, and this smoke, instead of being funnelled out of the barn through a chimney was sent up into the attic of the barn. It was called “Buure Rauch” which translates to “barn smoke”. The sausages would hang in the barn’s attic until nicely dried and heavily smoked, or until required.
Chimney sticks and Landjeager’s make for the ultimate shelf stable snack. Whether on the old battlefields of Europe or on a summit of the Canadian Rockies, nothing beats a chimney stick. The protein to fat ratio and salt content as well as the fact that they are shelf stable make it perfectly suited to any activity. Unlike Beef jerky or cured meats that are very lean, chimney sticks still contain a good amount of fat and in the absence of carbs, fat equals energy! Remember eating fat doesn’t mean getting fat, good fats are the building blocks of life.
One of my favourite things about chimney sticks is the fact that they are shelf stable. I tend to find them rolling around on my passenger seat in my truck or tucked away deep within last years dirt biking backpack. A quick wipe to get any dust off and voila, its snack time. Its like a good friend that’s always there for you when you need them.
Lets look at the science of what makes them shelf stable. 45 years ago, when Walter started making Chimney sticks and Landjeager’s in Canmore he did so without a PH meter and a water activity meter. He did so with the schooling and knowledge passed down generations before him that simply knew it was safe and shelf stable. Today that is not enough for the health inspector and as much as we still “know” what we’re doing, there’s an extra step involved just to be sure. Shelf stable means it can be kept without refrigeration at room temperature and that is only possible if we can be sure there is no bacteria growth. I’ve heard this works with a MacDonald’s meal as well, but that’s because its full of deadly preservatives that bugs or bacteria wont touch. But don’t worry its safe for you and me because some overlord (who surely profoundly cares for your health) at the FDA said so. So then if there is no preservatives what makes chimney sticks (as well as any fermented sausage) shelf stable? PH and Water activity
The PH of a fermented sausage needs to be below 5.3 (on a scale of 1-14) and the water activity (aw) needs to be below 0.92
Simply said, this creates a slightly acidic environment with exceptionally low water or moisture content which doesn’t allow for the growth of bacteria. On top of this and to help get to this environment a starter culture is added to the sausage mix. It’s a starter culture of “good” bacteria that makes sure no bad bacteria can grow. Its like moving your house to the top of a mountain where there is no food or water and some odd creature that is somehow able to live there has already called it home. Its simply not survivable and that’s what its like for Mr. Salmonella when he tries tries to call a chimney stick home.
Because chimney sticks make for the ultimate outdoor snack, Valbella’s would love to see a picture of where you have enjoyed them. Tag us @valbellagourmetfoods to enter to win a draw for $100 dollars worth of chimney sticks!