Tough natural hog casings
I just finished up a batch of sausage yesterday and the casings were tough… My first thought was that the small batch I had oven baked were overcooked, but I baked some more this morning with the same result… I also smoked some… same result.
I had soaked the casings for over a week, changed the water 3 times, flushed the insides and soaked in warm water for about 30+ minutes before stuffing… same as I have many times in the past…
These were purchased from Waltons about 3-4 months ago, have been kept refrigerated, packed in the salt they arrived with… I had used casings from this batch 2x before (prepping them just about exactly the same way) with no problem…
What am I missing here?
@raider2119 There could be a few things that might have happened here. First, leaving them in water for that long might not be the best idea. I generally take out what I need and leave the rest in the salt solution, soak what I need in warm water for 30 minutes and then flush the inside. I have never tested taking them out and putting them in water for a week so I can’t say for sure that is the issue but it is the first thing that jumped out at me.
The most common reason for a tough hog casing (or really any casing) is cook schedule, if you start it out too high it can create case hardening. The fact that this happened across multiple batches that were cooked in different ways leads me back to the soaking them for a week as being the issue here.
Can you provide me with your cook schedule and what product you were making with what meat block? Also was it a 100 yard hank of the casings or the smaller homepack? I’ll see if we can’t get a better answer on why these were so tough when other casings from the same bag that were treated the same way did not give you a tough casing.
This was the smaller home pack of casings…
Boston Butt to make breakfast sausage (spice blend from Waltons)… BTW, it’s REALLY good!!!
+/- 45 minutes in convection oven at 350 degrees (these were slightly overcooked)
1 hr in smoker @ 150 degrees, 1 hr @ 225 degrees, removed at IT of 170 (they look beautiful!!!)
+/- 30 minutes in convection oven @ 350 degrees
@raider2119 Your cooking processes look good other than I wouldn’t cook to an internal temp of 170, there is no need to go above 160° with pork so that may play a part but since you followed the same process with your other batches I think we can say that isn’t the main factor.
So, I am back to thinking it had something to do with soaking them for a week, maybe the water had some hard minerals in it and it transferred to the casing? That’s the only thing I can come up with other than of course maybe the casings were just tougher than normal from the processor? I will keep looking to see if I can come up with any other information.
Was there anything at all that was different between these batches and others?
You may have hit the problem, very possibly a water quality issue… That actually is a difference from last time I used these casings… I will look into this (process another batch) later this week… Thanks! R…
Thank you, I really appreciate it. That is what I pretty well figured I would do & just put everything in one of those Aluminum BBQ pans I keep then into the coolers lined with Blue Ice at the bottom. The transport is only 4-5 hours, so I think it should be OK, so long as I cool it all down over night first. The ham I ended up with is 25 pounds so I will do one pan for the turkey, another for the ham (that may end up shredded), & others for smoked oyster stuffing, cream corn, sweet potatoes, smoked mashed potatoes, etc. Thank you for all your help, I really appreciate it.
I wish we could help out more on this one, but this is using someone else’s recipe and process in a way I don’t feel comfortable with (since they recommend not using a cure or nitrite/nitrate). There really isn’t an answer I’d feel safe giving you since this is not something we’ve done and tested like this before.
My suggestion on hams is always to follow our standard recipe here:
My best alternative suggestion is to look for more information from a state University Meat Extension Department. They have usually done the proper research and development to provide better guidance. The University of Missouri has an article here that might be of help: https://extension2.missouri.edu/g2526
For the future, I’ll see if we can develop a recipe and process here to provide better guidance towards processing hams in this manner.
New to the forum and excited to learn! Looking to smoke my first batch of summers on my smoker. I noticed they have strings for hanging, but my smoker is set up more like a traditional barrel grill.
Questions: If I lay my summers on the grate of the smoker, will the casings burst/burn?
Thanks in advance!
The article does not cover when to cold smoke a cured ham. I have 16 wild hog hams in brine as of last night. I need to know at what point do I put them in the smoke house for this phase of the process.
For this version of Landjaeger, we did actually cook it. It could be made differently, but for our entry level MeatgisticsU course, it’s easier and safer to give instructions on doing a proper thermal processing. (Someday we will have to try to get to doing a completely traditional dry cured version.)
Smoked Meat Stabilizer and Sodium Erythorbate are similar to each other, but definitely not a replacement for a real cure, like Sure Cure. They simply act as cure accelerators, speeding up the conversion of nitrite in sausage during thermal processing. Using an accelerator (like one of these, or Encapsulated Citric Acid) allows you to skip the holding stage after stuffing and go straight into the smokehouse.