Cured Sausage 104 - Casings For Summer Sausage
Cured Sausage 104 - Casings For Summer Sausage
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What Are Common Styles Of Casings?
There two styles of casings that are commonly used for making Summer Sausage, Fibrous Casings and certain types of Inedible Collagen Casings. Fibrous casings are made from a paper-like product that will be dry when you take them out of the package, closed on one end and can be clear, mahogany or have some pattern or picture printed on them. The collagen casings are a specific type of collagen that is inedible, they will be dry, tied on one end and clear when you get them.
What Does Pre-Stuck (PS) Mean?
Prestuck means that the casings have been manufactured with small holes in them. The purpose of these holes is to allow some pressure to bleed out of the casings during the smoking process but more so to help the casing conform to the meat after the cooking process has finished. If you purchase nonstuck casings you will need to purchase something like a Casing Perforator to create these holes.
What Are The Sizes Of These Casings?
Casing size varies in summer sausage maybe more than any other casing. You can get standard casings as small as 1.5" X 12" all the way up to 2.9" X 24". Because of this variation, these casings can hold anywhere from a 1/2 lb of meat up to 4 - 5 lb of meat.
How Are Casings Prepared For Use?
Fibrous Casings - These need to be soaked in warm water for 30 minutes before being used. This will make them pliable enough to be stuffed full. You should only soak how many casings you are going to need but if you soak too many casings you can let the unused ones dry back out and you can use them again in the future.
Inedible Collagen - The easiest way to remember how to prepare these casings is to remember the rule of 15s. They need to be soaked for 15 minutes, in a 15% salt solution that is 15°C (59°F). Doing this will rehydrate the casings and make them pliable enough to be able to be stuffed. Even though this is inedible it is still made from the same basic process as regular collagen so it is made from the hide of beef and or pork.
Advantages and Disadvantages To Fibrous and Collagen.
The main difference in these two casings is the preparation that is required for the inedible collagen casings. The rule of 15s is very simple to follow but with fibrous casings, you do not even need to do that. Because of that Fibrous Casings are the more common casing for summer sausage.
Both of these casings are very strong, blowouts should not be a concern when stuffing them. The tie that already comes on one end will have a loop in it so that you can slide this over a smoke stick and hang them in your smoker.
*Because you will be hanging these from the side that is already tied you need to secure the other end very well as all the weight from the meat will be pushing down against whatever you used to seal it. The best way for the home user to do this is with a Hog Rings and Auto Load Hog Ring Plier.
I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.
Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.
Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??
Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.
@Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.
One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.