Frequently Asked Questions—Natural Casings

Information Provided by DeWied Casings

 

How do you soak out casings and for how long?
What is the shelf life of natural casings?
What is the best way to store natural casings?
What is the most popular size casing for a fresh and smoked sausage?
My casings smell bad, are they still good?
What can I do to knock out the bad smell in my casings?
What can I do to improve the bite on the casings?
What is the length of a bundle or hank of casings?
How many strands should a bundle have?
How long do you smoke sausage?
How do you keep unused casings?
How tight should the sausage be stuffed?
What are the casings tough after cooking fresh sausage?
How can I make my casings more tender?
What is the webby looking spot on my casings?
Why do my colored casings get dark streaks when I smoke them?
What products are made in sheep casings and hog casings?

   

ANSWERS:

 

HOW DO YOU SOAK OUT CASINGS AND FOR HOW LONG?

Salted Hog Casings:
For best results soak over night in refrigerator in water that starts out at 90º F (32.2ºC). 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.  Link Bratwurst's Additional Note: Flushing the inside of the casings allows better sliding onto and off the horn.  Open the end of the casing and dip it into the bowl allowing a bubble of water to enter casing.  Pull casing out of bowl and water bubble will follow down casing until it comes out the other end.  You can do this with a faucet as well.

 

The fast soak:

Rinse salt from casings

Soak in fresh water at 70º F (21.11ºC) for 1 hour

Soak in fresh water at 90º F (32.2ºC) for 1 hour

Place in fresh warm water 90º F (32.2ºC) at the stuffing table

 

Sheep Casings:

Soak in fresh water at 85-90º F (29.44ºC - 32.2ºC) for 30 minutes

Place in fresh warm water at the stuffing table.

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WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE OF NATURAL CASINGS?

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.

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WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO STORE NATURAL CASINGS?

Store in the cooler at 40º (4.44ºC) or less in brine or well salted. NEVER freeze casings.

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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. How many links do you want to make up a pound, etc.? (ie: 5 links per pound(436g) and 5 inches (127mm) per link). Traditionally, smaller sizes are used for fresh sausage and larger sizes for smoked sausage.

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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.

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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 refrigerator 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.

If odor persists, call The Sausage Source for assistance.

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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. Consult your smoke house supplier about the best smoke cycle for the most tender bite.

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WHAT IS THE LENGTH OF A BUNDLE OR HANK OF CASINGS?

The traditional hank or bundle of hog or sheep casing was 100 yards. However, today there is no standard length.
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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 how 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 strand.

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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. See page 9 for these instructions.

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HOW DO YOU KEEP UNUSED CASINGS?

Cover unused casings in brine solution or granulated salt and store in cooler at 40º (4.44ºC) or less but do not freeze.

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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 (1/8”) 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 (1/4”) 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.

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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.

  • Origin of casing.

  • Sausage was under stuffed

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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.

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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.

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WHY DO MY COLORED CASINGS GET DARK STREAKS WHEN I SMOKE THEM?

  • Dry cycle was too short

  • Showering with water containing chlorine or high mineral levels.

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WHAT PRODUCTS ARE MADE IN SHEEP CASINGS AND HOG CASINGS?

The kind of casing used for a particular sausage will depend on what you want the sausage to look like and tradition. Ask your supplier, The Sausage Source, which casing would be appropriate for the sausage you want to make.

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