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Need Advice on Smoking Sausage

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by justpassingthru, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Hey all,

    Since I have my stuffer I have been making sausage for the last 4 weekends, my first attempt was a chicken sausage and since then I have smoked bratwurst, Shooter Rick's kielbasa and today 5 pounds of andouille using collagen casings I bought from New Zealand, here's the problem, the chicken sausage I cooked on the stove and the grill stayed nice and plump, the sausage I smoked in my GOSM start out plump, but after they reach 140° they start to shrivel up, they don't look anything like the ones I've seen here, they taste good, it's just the looks.   I start out with temps at 110° increasing the temp 10° after every hour, after I'm at 140° I turn off the electric (up to this point they are nice and plump) and use the gas starting at 150° and increasing the temp 10° every hour up to 180°, but with the gas they tend to shrivel.  Do you think it is the casings or am I doing something wrong?

    Here are some pics of the andouille.



    The sausage laying on top is a Chinese sausage and it is very good, the recipe said to prick it with a needle and cook it at 180° for 60-70 minutes so that it would have a shriveled appearance.  [​IMG]

    Here is a pic of the kielbasa when I first put them in.


    This is at the end of the 140°, turn off the electric and start the gas.


    TBS from the AMZEN smoker, I also learned to make them shorter.

    Thanks for you help,

    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011
  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What finishing internal temp are you taking them to?
  3. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Oops, I forgot that, I try for 152° like the book and everyone says, but I don't see how that could be possible with out placing a probe in one, or opening the door every 10 minutes and losing the heat, these were taken out between 155° and 158° according to my Thermapen.

    That brings up another question, is my Thermapen accurate?  In ice water it reads 35°, in boiling water it reads 209°, but when I turn on the PID it will read the same ambient, also when I made the Almond Toffee it read the same temp as my candy thermometer at 350°, ...I don't think it's an altitude problem because I'm only 200' above sea level.


  4. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have noticed that when I use collagen casings the meat shrinks or cooks and the casings don't shrink to fit.  Try using natural casings and repeat the same procedure to see what happens.  You lose fat and moisture during cooking and the natural casings tend to form fit the cooked product better.  Just out of  curiosity you may want to weigh the sausage before and after cooking to see what you get.  

    If they taste fine then more than likely it is the casings, if they are a bit dry the gas maybe drying them out, if the meat is crumbly or tough you may have overcooked them,  What happens if you warm them in a pan of hot water when you are ready to serve?

  5. SFLsmkr1

    SFLsmkr1 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Your starting at to low a temp. Start at 140*,keep the electric going. You said you have a PID?

    140* for 1.5-2 hrs to dry the casing (no smoke0

    150 for 2 hrs w smoke

    160 for 2 hrs (smoke opt) check IT of sticks. Sticks always have a stall point around 130-137 IT of meat

    170 for 2-3 hrs, check IT again. sticks should be getting close to 145-149* If not bump PID to

    175* for another 2 hrs. Check IT again you can pull the sticks at 149-152*

    Try not to exceed 180* or your going to get a fat out
  6. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I just reread your post. I have never used collagen casings so I don't know if that's the issue but when I use natural casings I have never had that issue.
  7. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks Al for the response,

    I've tried the suppliers for casings suggested here but the won't accept payment or ship outside of the US.  Next I turned to New Zealand, but Tahiti has a law that won't allow importation of natural casing, but they could ship me collagen, hence the collagen casings.  When I first started to put together the necessary supplies to make sausage, several of the commercial sausage makers agreed to sell me casings, but that didn't materialize, that's why I had to use the collagen from New Zealand.

    Thanks for the info on the collagen casings shrinking, these shrink and when reheated the casings can be pulled off, I wondering if these casings are intended for prolonged smoking times or were meant to be boiled or grilled, the ones I grilled didn't shrivel up but stayed plump and the casing bonded to the meat, next batch I make I'll weigh them and see how much difference there is, please excuse my ignorance, but how will I use this info?

    I boiled some this morning like you said (casings slipped right off), but they lost their intense flavor, similar to most things boiled, if I nuke them for 12-13 seconds they are warm and moist and not dry or crumbly.

    I guess my next question is are there collagen casings that can't be smoked or are made to be removed before eating?

    Nepas thanks for your help,

    I'm a debutant at the art of making sausage, other than these few sausage attempts my experience is limited to making Bearcarvers skinless beef sticks, in following his method for raising smoking temps combined with info gleaned from Rytek's book is why I started with the low temps (I'm not saying your method is wrong, just explaining why i did it the way I did and I'll take it into consideration next time).  My ambient is 78° so I started out with the sausage hanging in the GOSM for an hour or so until they were dry, but they were never really wet, then I bring the smoker up to 110° and yes I have installed a PID controlled finned heating strip to achieve the low temps necessary that I can't attain with the propane at this ambient.  I turn off the electric at the end of about 5 hours of ramp and soak time because, 1 electricity is very expensive, 2 the amzn has quit smoking, 3 the GOSM will run at 150° or any temp above that with a slight adjustment of the needle valve, my total smoking times have run between 9 1/2-10 hours with smoker temp of 190° maximum.

    Interesting, you smoke yours and the starting temp is above the stall point (yes I experienced that) and they take 9 1/2-11 hours and I'm about 4 hours with the temp lower than the stall point and finish in 9 1/2-10 hours, am I correct in that you are heating with electricity?  I'm heating with electricity and after the stall point with gas, I'm wondering if the gas heating could be the problem with these casings?

    Thanks for your time Ross,

    I wish I could get my hands on some natural casings, the sausage they make here are nice and plump, but filled with fat and who knows what else and after they are cooked shrink down to the diameter of a pencil.

    I'm a newbie at sausage, hopefully I can find the answer to this dilemma and produce some good looking sausage like the rest of you.

    Thanks again everyone for your comments,

  8. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    I used those temps when I had my old MES 30, and it was before I had my AMNS. I did that gradual rise from 110˚ to get my heating element to come on more often to produce smoke.

    I made some unstuffed bologna yesterday, and started at 130˚--then to 150˚---then 170˚, and so on.

    I'll be posting it in the next day or two.

    Nepas knows what he's talking about. I voted for him as Pennsylvania Sausage Maker of the year.

    I don't think he ever takes a break!

  9. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Ahh, the best laid plans of mice and men! as I sit here chuckling.

    Ok Bear, I gotcha ya, and Rytek didn't say at what temps he started, just to be sure the sausage was dry and raise the temps gradually.

    Also I think I need to contact the supplier and ask what method of cooking should be used for these casings, I'm not certain if they 'smoke' sausage in New Zealand or not.

    Thanks Bear, I'll be waiting for your post and yeah, Nepas puts out some might fine lookin' sausage.

  10. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Aloha Gene,

    Sausages look mouth watering from where I sit.  Where'd you get the recipe for chinese sausage (lup chong)?
  11. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Hey Val,

    Thanks for the compliment, I found the recipe somewhere on the web, I only made 1 pound to see if it was any good, it's very good and I'll be making 5 pounds soon.

    Here's the recipe.

    Chinese Sausage - Lop Chong (Cantonese Style)

    5 lbs pork

    3/4 lb pork fat

    5 Tbs dextrose

    1/4 cup thin (light) soy sauce*

    1/4 cup Chinese rice wine

    1 1/2 Tbs salt

    1 tsp cure #1 (or 7 1/2 tsp Tender Quick)**

    2 tsp Chinese five spice

    1 tsp white pepper

    * it must be the light, the dark is too strong and will over power the rice wine

    ** I used TQ so I omitted the salt


    Grind meat twice through coarse disc (I only ground once), then add the diced fat.

    Mix all dry ingredients and mix in meat.

    Add wet ingredients and mix well.

    Place in fridge for 24 hours, then stuff.

    Prick casings with a needle so that the sausage will have a shriveled appearance.                                     

    Place in preheated smoker at 160°, when meat temp reaches 140° raise smoker temp to 180° (I put it in when smoker was at 180°) and cook to 152°, should take 60-70 minutes.

    I hope you try it, I think you will like it.

  12. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Gene , did you use any sort of binder in the andouille  ? 

  13. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member


    My questions about the weights and the boiling where an attempt to find out if you where just overcooking or not or maybe loosing to much fat and moisture during the cooking process.  If you are unable to get natural casings then the collagen casing will have to do.   If you are concerned about the appearance of the sausage I was hopeing a couple of minutes in hot water would plump them up for you.

    Personally when I eat sausage it is normally covered with all kinds of good tasting things and smashed between a couple slices of french bread so their appearance isn't important to me.

    I do want to thank you for the way you respond to suggestions and comments provided by both myself and the other posters.

    You know if I bring cash money to a butcher I usually don't have any problems buying anything I want you may want to visit with cash in hand.

    Hah,  I just read the third to last line of your recipe    "Prick casings with a needle so that the sausage will have a shriveled appearance  ""    
  14. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Thank you for the recipe for the Lop Chong.  I am also new at making sausages.  I will try your recipe at the next opportunity I have to make sausage.  I am looking forward to adding it to Fried Rice.

    I also have the same smoker as you have and was able to rig up  a needle valve for it per your parts list that you posted a while back.  Thank you  my friend.


  15. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  16. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Dan, no I didn't, I used K Kruger's recipe from TVWB and it didn't call for any, why, what do binders do?

    Al, Thanks for your time, advice and kind words, yes mine will probably be camouflaged with something (probably the red beans and rice recipe I saw here on the next rainy day), but you guys taught me we eat with our eyes too, so that's why I'm concerned about the looks. LOL

    Heh, heh, normally cash talks, but not here if they think you are going to give them competition.

    Val, yes, by all means try it, Lop Chong and fried rice, it doesn't get much better does it?   Just curious, how low of temp can you have with the needle valve?

    Pit, If I was anywhere close to you I would buy you a glass of pineapple juice, thank you bro for the link!

  17. weisswurst

    weisswurst Smoke Blower

    There is a lot of good info above.Soy protein concentrate ( or even soy flour from one of those bulk food places )  will help keep the sausage from shrinking. Use enough but not too much water in your recipe.Keep your temps below 180. i keep mine at or below 165.And it comes out at 152 by an internal temp check.Also be sure you are packing your casings tight enough.

      You do not want your sausages like hot dogs , bologna , knockwurst  , smoked keilbasa , to " smear " that is start to drip fat.

      Some of the sausage makers will over smoke everything to cover up for being sloppy with handling the product. Lucky for them , some people like it that way, For me it all tastes the same  , smoky , chewy , no distinctive flavor. Happy Sausage making   Weisswurst
  18. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks Wiesswurst, for the advice, I don't know if I can find soy protein concentrate here, I'll look for it at a health food store, if I can't find any can I use non-fat dry milk, I read where Rytek said it does the same thing and since I'm just beginning I'm need to learn the tricks of the trade and I'll take all the advice I can get.

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  19. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I used soy flour in my last batch of andouille. Made it much more juicy and plump.

    Got the stuff at the Asian supermarket.

  20. Gene i get my soy protein from LEM products on-line...also a great place for tender quick... some spices..and meat preparation toys..Len