Natural Casing Questions

Hog - Salted        

            The fast soak: If in a hurry, follow these instructions but understand that you may not get maximum expansion capacity from the casing. Rushing the Soaking process can result in the casing being sticky and they may not slide easily from the horn. This can result in breakage and sausage that is irregular in diameter or too small.     


            For better results     

                        Soak overnight in water in refrigerator     

                        Rinse salt from casings     

                        Soak in fresh water at 70º F. for 1 hour     

                        Soak in fresh water at 90º F. for 1 hour     

                        Place in fresh 90º F. water at the stuffing table                       
Hog - Pre-flushed Wet Brine             

Soak in fresh water at 90º F. for 30 minutes         

Place in fresh warm water at the stuffing table         


Beef Rounds:    

            Soak overnight in cold water.     

            Soak in warm water 90-100º F. for 30 minutes     

            Place in fresh warm water at the stuffing table     


Sheep Casings:    

            Soak in fresh water at 85-90º F. for 30 minutes     

            Place in fresh warm water at the stuffing table.     


How long do you smoke sausage?    

            The length of your smoke cycle becomes part of your sausage formulation. Your smoke cycle depends on the type of smokehouse you have and the type of product you are smoking. Generally, you would dry the sausage, then generate smoke until you get the desired color and then cook the  sausage.     


How do you keep unused casings?         

            Cover unused casings in brine solution or granulated salt and store in cooler at 40º F. or less but do not freeze. 

How tight should the sausage be stuffed?       

            How tight you stuff sausage casings depends on the type of sausage and how it is to be linked.     

For natural casings: When making a rope sausage, without linking, stuff to slightly less than the maximum expansion of the casings. If linking by machine, stuff 3-4 mm below the maximum expansion of the casing. Consult the instructions for the linker or your linker supplier because there can be significant differences in equipment. If linking by hand stuff 4-5 mm below the maximum expansion of the casing. Hand linking can put uneven stress on the casing. By under stuffing, you can reduce breakage during linking. Check the firmness of the link and adjust the stuffing pressure.     


What is the shelf life of natural casings?       

            Salted: 1 year or more     

            Preflushed in Brine Pack: 6 months to one year.     


What is the best way to store natural casings?    

            Store in the cooler at 40º F. or less in brine or well salted. NEVER freeze casings.     


What is the most popular size casing for a fresh and smoked sausage?      

            There are no standards dictating the size casing to be used for a particular sausage. The size casing you use for sausage should depend on what you want your sausage to look like. The specification of the packaging and above all, your preference will influence the casing size. How many links do you want to make up a pound? How long must the links be for the packaging to be used? Traditionally,smaller sizes( 28-35 mm) are used for fresh sausage and larger sizes (35-40 mm) for smoked sausage.     

            For snack stick and breakfast links use 20-26 mm.     


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.     


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. Some casings are tougher because of their origin. They are usually cheap. The tough ones are usually thick and opaque. Smoke cycles can also affect the bite of a casing. Humidity during the smoke cycle is very important to maximize a tender eating experience.

What is the length of a bundle or hank of casings?      

            The traditional hank or bundle of hog or sheep casing is 100 yards. However, today there is no standard length. Some suppliers will base the length of the casing bundle on the price a customer demands.     


How many strands should a bundle have?      

            The number of strands in a bundle depends on how uniform the diameter of the sausage must be and ow long the individual strands of casing must be. The fewer strands and the longer they are, the less uniform the casings will be. In general, a hog casing will have 14-18 strands and a sheep casing will have 12-14 strands.     


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 more tender?       

            Soak casings longer     

            Add lemon juice or pineapple juice to the soak water

            Use proper moisture levels during smoke cycle     


What is the webby looking spot on my casings? - This is a patch of peyer (Pie-air) which is scarring resulting from the cleaning process and the removal of lymph nodes. All natural casings will have some scarring     


Why do my colored casings get dark streaks when I smoke them?         

            Drying cycle was too short     

            Were showered with water containing chlorine or high mineral levels     


What is the difference between hand pulled and knife cut casings?         

            North American hand pulled casings do not have threads of connective tissue on the outside (Called whiskers). They are delicate and usually have shorter strands than knife cut. They may have more holes or weak spots. Knife cut casings have the small threads of connective tissue (Whiskers). They   have an extra membrane for strength. Their strands are usually longer and have fewer holes. The threads of connective tissue on knife cut casings will melt off on smoked or cooked sausage