Snack stick casings extremely tough
We recently visited the Waltons West store in Wichita and purchased the jalapeño snack stick mix, several spices, hi temp cheese, and a small stuffer. Enough for 25lb of snack sticks.
I already had some brand XXX edible collagen snack stick casings from a name brand supplier at the house so decided to use them instead of buying more.
Using ground elk with 10% pork fat added at the processor, decided to add some cheap pork sausage for additional fat content and seasoning.
After cooking on the Traeger, monitoring the internal temps with a blue tooth thermometer, brought them in and cooled in an ice bath according to instructions.
Conclusion: I wish we didn’t add the cheap sausage. The flavor was of excess fat, not meat/seasonings.
The edible collagen casings ended up extremely tough. So tough they are just about not able to be eaten. Why so tough?
The casings could have just been dried out, or coming from another supplier, who knows how long they were on the shelf before they were sold to you. That would be one reason I’d recommend our casings. The casings that come from us are also the same high quality casings that commercial meat processors are using, whereas the casings from another retailer many times can be a lower quality and cheaper casing.
If one was to assume the quality of casings was not an issue, case hardening (tough exterior and casing) is typically a result of cooking temperatures. Sometimes it is from cooking at too high of a temp, or simply increasing the cooking temp too quickly. Adding a water pan to the smoker to help increase humidity and avoid a dry/hot heat can help as well. We recommend starting out the cooking with a low and slow incremental rise in temps (recommended cook cycle is 125F for 1 hour, 140F for 1 hour, 155F for 2 hours, then finally 175F until the internal meat temp is 160F). If you can’t hit some of those lower temps, keep the smoker as low as possible to start and don’t increase the temps past 200F.
Those are at least a few ideas to start with. If you don’t think the cooking process was the issue, let us know what your approximate cook cycle was, and we can help brainstorm further from there!
I'll have to admit the casings were old. Probably well over a year at our house, and no telling how long they were hanging in the store. Pretty tough getting them on the stuffer tube even when coated with some vegetable oil.
Next batch will be with fresh casings.
As a general rule of thumb, we highly discourage using vegetable oil for anything involved with meat processing.
It can ultimately cause more problems than it solves.
If you are using vegetable oil for lubricant to slide casings on the stuffing tube, that could be a portion of the problem in this specific case too. If you get oil on the casings, it can dry them out and almost fry them while smoking/cooking. It can at least cook them faster and dry them out though.
I’d say there is a good chance you reduce the casing issues you had by not using the vegetable oil.
What is recommended for a lube to get the casings on the stuffer tube if vegetable oil is not good?
Perhaps it was the old casings being the issue, but the casings were very difficult to get on the tube without some sort of lube. Bacon fat?
Bacon makes everything good! LOL.
The best answer would be to just use a smaller stuffing tube, or use a larger casing that fits better on your stuffing tube.
Using fat would be better than vegetable oil, but still the best answer is to match up the stuffing tube and casings for a better fit.
It sounds like you used casings that were intended for semi-dri, smoked or fermented snack sticks. For a fresh breakfast sausage you would want to use a “fresh” collagen or natural hog or sheep casing.
@papag Thank you!! That is what I had intended to do but wanted verification.
On the measurements, I measured & calculated the five pound container of cure mix three times & got three different answers as would be suspected for something that should be weighed. However, since I do not have a food scale anymore I settled for about 2.25 cups to equal 1 pound of cure mix. Thank you for the suggestion on the liners & I will look into that too. I tried to find a food safe five gallon bucket, but was unable. I used my typical Aluminum Turkey Pot that I usually use with up to 2.5 gallon freezer bags for smaller turkeys, butts, briskets, etc. However, since this ham was so big, I had to go & get a 10 gallon freezer bag to use for the ham & put that into the Turkey Pot to keep it together. That ham has been taking a bath now for a day. Thank you all for all your help.
Please help me if you can. Let’s say I wanted to mix two flavors like habanero and ranch yup that’s the request from the wife and friends and I’m down to try. Would I mix for the whole 25 lb batch or cut each in half? Main question is are there salts in these blends or just flavor?
I made a batch of breakfast sausage. This is my first time using collagen casings. I used 19mm Mahogony edible collagen casings.
Well, I pan fried them this morning and the casings were like rubber. I was able to slide the sausage out of the casings so all was not lost.
Any ideas why the casings were not really edible?
Thanks in advance
I smoked many a summers on my traeger. Turning them a few times during the process will ensure that you won’t get “cooked product” on the side that is facing the grill.