Cured Sausage 105 - Casings For Smoked Sausage
Cured Sausage 105 - Casings For Smoked Sausage
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
What Are Common Styles Of Casings?
Smoked Sausage covers a wide variety of products, technically snack sticks and summer sausage would fall under this category. For our purposes today though we are talking about a bratwurst like product that is going to have cure added to it and will be smoked in a smoker. The type of casing that is used for this will be important as not all collagen casings are suitable for this.
The two most common styles of casings for this type of sausage are Collagen and Natural Casings like Hog or Sheep intestines. Collagen Casings come in 3 different styles, Fresh, Clear and Smoked. For a smoked product, Fresh Collagen should not be used, they won’t stand up to being hung in the smokehouse like Clear and Smoked will.
What Are The Sizes Of These Casings?
Collagen - Smoked Sausage will generally be 30mm or larger. Both Clear and Smoked Collagen have many options above this size.
Natural Casings - Smoked Sausage like Boudain or Kielbasa will almost always be 32-35mm or larger. However, you could make a strong argument that Hot Links belong in this category and those can be as small as hotdogs, around 26mm. So for natural casings, they can range from 26mm sheep casings all the way to 42mm hog casings.
How Are Casings Prepared For Use?
If you are using collagen casings there is no preparation necessary, simply remove them from the package, load them onto your stuffing tube and begin stuffing.
For Natural Casings you will need to rinse the salt off of the outside of the casing with clean running water and then soak them for 60 minutes in warm water before they are ready for use. If you purchased your natural casing in a “home pack” you will also need to flush the inside of the casing by running water through the middle of them. Then you load them on to your stuffing tube and you are ready to stuff.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The main advantage of collagen is the convenience, no preparation is needed for these casings to be ready to use. Another benefit from collagen is uniformity, they will be the same diameter throughout the entire run, this is especially important for commercial processors. Collagen casings are also less prone to blowouts than natural casings are. The biggest drawback of collagen is that it does not accept a twist as natural casings will. You can twist them and they will stay that way until you go and cut them at which point they will unravel and open slightly.
The main advantage of Natural Casings both hog and sheep is that they will accept a twist and once cut they will remain closed. Some people also prefer the snap of natural casings. The biggest drawbacks are the difficulty in getting them ready and the fact that they are prone to blowouts.
Other Styles Of Casings
Cellulose Casings can be used for skinless smoked sausage products like some types of hot dogs. Cellulose is made from plant material, is very strong, smoke permeable and even has a black stripe down the side to let you know if the casing has been removed or not.
*For beginners I always recommend collagen casings over cellulose or natural hog or sheep casings. They require less work and make the entire process less complicated and the fewer complications the better!
@cayenneman That is more like smoking pork butts or brisket. I did a whole wild turkey at 225F and since there is so little fat on them to start with I used it to make a turkey noodle soup and that little bit of extra smoke on the turkey is a game changer! I used the bones to make the stock and it also had a little smokeyness to it, delicious. Don’t be afraid to run the smoker up 225-250F. Just make sure get it warm and dry before putting the smoke to it so it will stick better.
@rhjbarney That is the second time in recent weeks I have heard sausage referred to as Cigars, I like it and I am sure I can come up with a clever (for me at least) social media post about it. Also, I use a lot of the pictures our users post here on Walton’s Instagram, Facebook and twitter accounts and also Meratgistics Face Book accounts. Consider this my shameless plug to follow our social media accounts.
@Boxie Give us as much information as you can on your process and we will see if we can figure it out. So, it was 60% pork and 40% venison? What cuts of pork did you use? How much water, what seasoning, what was your mixing and grinding like, did you get enough protein extraction, what was your smoke schedule?. Pretty much as much detail as you can give will help because at 60/40 with carrot fiber there is no reason it should be dry.
Oh, and what tye of sausage were you making?