FAQ about Sausage Casings
What can I do to improve the "bite" on the casings?
Cooking a sausage can toughen any casing. To maximize the tender bite of a casing, cook with moisture.
Prick sausage before grilling.
Smoke cycles can also affect the bite of a casing. Humidity during the smoke cycle is very important to maximize a tender eating experience.
Why are the casings tough after cooking fresh sausage?
Sausage was cooked in a pan too hot and too quickly.
Casings were not soaked long enough.
Sausage was under stuffed
How can I make my casings tender?
Soak casings longer
Add lemon juice or pineapple juice to the soak water.
Use proper moisture levels during smoke cycle.
What is the shelf life of natural casings?
Packed in salt: 1 year or more
Preflushed in Net Pack: 6 months to one year.
Preflushed in Vacuum Pack: 6 months to one year.
Preflushed on plastic Tubes: 6 months to one year.
Colored Casings: About 6 months.
How do you keep unused casings?
Cover unused casings in brine solution or granulated salt and store in cooler at 40°F or less but do not freeze.
What is the best way to store natural casings?
Store in the cooler at 40°F or less in brine or well salted. NEVER freeze casings.
My casings smell bad, are they still good?
Usually Yes. When your natural casings first arrive there may be some gas build up in the container, especially in hot weather. This can smell pretty strong.
What can I do to knock out the bad smell in my casings?
Usually all it needs is airing out. Leave the container open in the cooler for a while. Or, take casings out of the container and air them out. If it is really bad, rinse casings in fresh water, re-soak in brine and the smell will usually dissipate.
Putting baking soda in your soak water may also help.
How tight should collagen be stuffed?
Collagen is not as elastic as natural casing. Therefore, it is not as forgiving for over stuffing. Twist linking requires under stuffing by an amount which works best for the equipment used.
Do you need to soak collagen?
No. Collagen should be kept dry and never soaked before using.
Is Collagen edible?
Yes. It is a natural protein synthesized into a casing. Some wide diameters and collagen used for large slicing products may be too tough to chew but they are technically edible.
What is the best way to store collagen casings?
Place unused portion of collagen in a plastic zip lock bag and store in the cooler.
Why can’t I twist link my collagen casings sausage by hand?
Collagen has "memory" therefore it will always want to go back to its natural state.
How long do you soak fibrous casings?
Usually they should soak 30 minutes in 90°F water.
How tight should fibrous be stuffed?
The product should feel very firm.
What is the best way to store fibrous casings?
Store casing that has not been soaked in a cool dry room.
Why is my fibrous splitting when I stuff it?
Did not soak casing properly
Casing has been stored in a hot, dry place.
Casing has been overstuffed.
Sheep Casings - The smallest of natural casings, and more tender when cooked than pork casings. The 22 mm to 24 mm size casings are popular sizes for sausage links, and 24 mm to 26 mm size casings are popular sizes for wieners.
Hog Casings - The "all-purpose" casings that can be used for fresh, cured, smoked, dried and semi-dried sausage.
32 mm- to 35 mm size and 35 mm to 38 mm size casings are popular sizes for home sausage making.
29 mm to 32 mm size casings are used for wieners, as well as Italian and country sausage
32 mm to 35 mm size casings are used for bratwurst, brockwurst and Italian sausage
35 mm to 38 mm size casings are used for Polish sausage and knockwurst
38 mm to 42 mm size casings are used for large diameter Polish, summer sausage, ring bologna and liverwurst.
Hog Middles - A medium-sized, specialty casing used for blood sausage and sopressata. Hog middles have a strong odor and should be thoroughly rinsed before using.
Hog Stomachs - A specialty casing used for head cheese and blood sausage.
Beef Bungs - About 4 inches to 4.5 inches in diameter, this beef casing will stuff about 10 pounds. It is used for cappicola, large bologna, Lebanon and cooked salami.
Beef rounds - Otherwise known as ring bologna casing, this medium-large casing is used for knockwurst, mettwurst, kiska, Polish kielbasa and holsteiner.
Storage - There are four ways to store natural casings: in dry salt, brine, individually packed hanks in polyethylene bags with brine, and pre-shirred on plastic tubes.
When preparing casings for stuffing, there are four steps. Rinse salt from casings with fresh water; soften by soaking in fresh water between 45 minutes and one hour at room temperature; place casings in a bath of fresh water at about 110°F to bring out the natural fat; and pre-flush casings by allowing water to run through the casing.
Drying and Moisturizing:
Once the casing has been stuffed and is in the smokehouse, it should be dry to the point of being tacky before smoke is applied. If smoke is applied beforehand, it will penetrate the casing and deposit on the meat surface, giving the sausage a pale, dry look.