How to handle natural casings

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Renowned Sausage Maker
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Apr 28, 2010
Thought I would post up what I do with natural casings. I use naturals 99.9% of the time when making sausages be it sheep or hog casings. I get compliments about how the casing are very delicate and have a perfect snap when you bite into the sausage.  I believe the quality of the casings is part of it but how you handle the casings is another step towards a tender bite. Natural casings usually come packed in salt, wet salt or a salt solution. Casings in a salt solution require short soaking periods changing the water frequently where as casings packed in salt take lengthy times from days to weeks.  My 36-38mm casings from Wolfson's come in this solution and I normally soak for a few days before using them. If I don't soak them for a few days and use them the same day (not removing the salt saturated in them) they tend to dry out quickly, not be as elastic, turn a darker color on the stuffing tube and sometimes stick to the tube and cause blow outs..... I have had great success when casings become fully washed and pliable. The casings need to be able to stretch without breaking making them thinner when the sausage is stuffed into them. I usually stuff sausage at the brink of it tearing.

Here I am trying (first time) new casing out I bought from the sausage maker. They are 38-42mm and came in a wet salt brine. not a salt solution brine.

not much liquid but they are wet

Place them in the container and add some fresh water. Change the water frequently during the course of the day and return them back to the fridge.

After soaking them for a few days in the fridge they are softening up

Once they are clean and looking silky soft I remove them from the container, discard the excess water and place the casings back into the container and add 1/2 cup of non iodized salt to the casings, mix and store in the fridge for future use. The casing will have become so saturated with water you will not need to add any.

When ready to use the casings remove the whole hank from the container and place into a large bowl of cold water and wash the casings like you were scratching your head changing the water several times removing the salt from the casings. You will see the casings have become saturated and are looking silky smooth and pliable..... Here you will be able to grab a piece of casing and pull it out of the hank in one whole section without tangling. Place it into another container of water and take what your going to use removing what you'll need. I usually pull 18 inches per lb depending on the size.

Here's how they look on the tube. Wet,soft, and pliable. They will be easy to stretch without breaking and wont blow out.

Take your unused casing, drain them, place them into the container for storage and add the 1/2 cup of non iodized salt and put back into the fridge. You can add 1 cap full of vinegar if desired. I usually do

Back into the container with a good shake and back into the fridge for next time

Over all the casings from the sausage maker were very nice. Good quality but a little pricey. I will use them again...

I stretched these to the max. Fat

Thanks for looking
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Great info and recommendation. Have yet to order anything from SausageMaker but knowing a respected link maker such as yourself is OK with their products is a good endorsement for me. That is a LOT of casings...LOL....for a guy like me but I imagine they last forever if stored properly. I also need to order some SS tubes for my Lem stuffer before getting serious again....will probably order a combo pack to cover all bases. Thanks for the info.....Willie
Thank you for the very informative introduction to natural casings. I am wanting to start making my own sausages and this will help a lot.
well thanks..

i have always had trouble getting a few casings out of THE TWISTED MESS ....  ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR !!!!!

so by soaking the whole works i will be able to pull out 1 at a time.... sounds too good to be true but you have never let me down so thats what im gonna do next time i make sausage......

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That's one serious stuffing tube you've got there. What's that 4 links in the tube? That looks like a plastic pipe extruder......... really nice consistency on those sausages, 'course you are D'sausage man! Excellent Post

Very informative, great Q-view, had a good beat, Mr. Clark I'd give it a 10!
How long are the casings good for?

If you hang and dry them in the refrigerator then pack them in pure salt they should last indefinatley. These should last a year doing it this way
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FYI.  Casings from the SM are from China.  I don't buy anything from China, if possible. 

"what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?",
I'm talking about farm raised seafood in raw sewage, things that last a short time, due to bad quality, etc.  Besides, I don't drink tea.  It's my money and I'll spend it where I want.

I spend my money on American products whenever I can.  Sorry, if we disagree.

BTW, did you watch the Olympics, where citizens were wearing masks due to the pollution and events were canceled because of air quality.
Oh, c'mon, don't take it so seriously.
I actually avoid Chinese food products too...and lately I've been avoiding the SausageMaker altogether....they have a retail store near me but whenever I go there they don't have half the stuff I need, their prices are outrageous and I can order from elsewhere, pay the shipping, and still get it for less.

Anyway....great tutorial Joe!!!!

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'Nuff said.  Been having some bad things going on with family.  Thanks for bringing me back to reality.  Take care and be safe Guys.
Great tutorial on the casings and sausage, as always, Joe.... I'm gonna try your washing/storage method..... My casing don't come out looking like yours....

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