Need help with sausage casing lengths

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by golson, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. golson

    golson Fire Starter


     I am new here and just bought a masterbuilt digital electric smoker. I heard good things about them but this is my intro so not a lot of money spent. I have one problem. I want to smoke deer sausage and the casings are 20 inches long. But the longest i can put in the smoker without touching bottom pan is around 14 inches. Do I just cut what I use or can i get a smaller size casing for the sausage?
  2. jjmrascal

    jjmrascal Smoke Blower

    Welcome aboard, Golson.  You will find plenty of info and help here.

    Are you using summer sausage casings (2 1/2" dia x 20 - 24" long) or a premade collogen casing?  In either case you just trim to the length you need.  Not sure how the Masterbuilt heat element sets in the chamber but I do know you want some clearance between the heat source and sausage or else the ends of your sausages will dry out. 

    If you use natural casings that are very long, you can stuff the length then just keep wrapping the sausage over the smoke stick.

    Hope this helps.  Shout back with questions and have a great Thanksgiving.
  3. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Welcome to SMF golson,

    I'm just getting into sausage making, but how about making them 20" and then tie them at 10" and drape over a rod in your smoker?

  4. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Make two out of the one casing is what I do also,

    I stuff it halfway and tie it off. Then leave 1or 2 inches and tie it again and stuff the second sausage and tie it off. You can drape smaller diameter ones over the smoke stick but the bigger sausages work better if you cut the two apart and  hang them  by a string from the stick.

    Of course you can lay them flat on racks too. they'll still taste the same , but they might be a little less round.

    Let us know what ya do and how it comes out.
  5. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Are you talking snack stick size or regular sausage size or summer sausage size casings? 
  6. que-ball

    que-ball Smoking Fanatic

    GOLSON, welcome to the forum and the world of sausage making.  From your question it sounds like you are talking about the fibrous casings you would use for summer sausage and such.  You can cut them to a shorter length that will fit into your smoker, but you will waste alot of casing unless you tie off the piece you cut off and stuff that too.  You can buy shorter casings to start with, but they will probably also be a smaller diameter.  The 2.5x20" casings found in most grocery stores will hold 3# meat.  The next size smaller casing is 1.5x12" and will stuff 1#, according to my catalog. 
  7. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome  Golson, If you look at some of my pictures in my album you can see one option, as a couple of the other guy suggested, if you are using the natural or collogen casing. The looping works well for me it, I like to make them as long as possible, but that is just me......It seems like I have to make more everytime I make sausage or smoke.....I started out making 5lbs at a time and now I'm up to 25-30lbs at a time....since I started the wife    and kids seem to love anything that comes out of the smoker more and more....I have the kids helping and have even got the wife making her own sausage recipe lately.....[​IMG]  If you have any questions their is a lot of great advice on this site, feel free to ask everyone is helpful. Good luck Shoneyboy
  8. golson

    golson Fire Starter

    WOW...You guys know your stuff....I think I will use the 20 inch casings and cut half of the casings and clip tie the ends. Would it be best to use clips instead of string to tie the ends. That way i can use most of the casing as possible. 
  9. que-ball

    que-ball Smoking Fanatic

    You'll need string at one end to make a loop to hang them by in the smoker, unless you plan to lay them down on the racks.  Clips or hog rings are fine for the other end, and are easier than keeping the filled casing twisted with one hand while tying a knot in the string with two hands.  Unless you have someone else willing to supply th third hand, of course. 
  10. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What I do is fill my casing loosely; once I have finished stuffing it I will go back and twist my links.  I don't like to waist my time with a lot of extra work like fighting with string and hog rings, but that just my opinion.  When I want links, I use my hand to judge how long I make them and from experience I know that 4 links are about pound and work from their. One piece of advice is, write down everything that you do. Write down the recipe and ever little detail as far as changes that you make to your recipe. The temperature that you cooked at and the wood that you used. It will help you a lot and if you don't it will drive you crazy trying to remember what you did or changed after it's done.  It's a hobby don't make it work.....Have fun with it.....
  11. golson

    golson Fire Starter

    thanks a bunch. I was wondering if anyone had experience using "askthemeatman" seasoning for venison smoked sausage. I bought his DVD instructional videos and they are really easy to follow. The last thing on my list is to get a sausage stuffer like the  Lem Vertical 5 lb Sausage Stuffer Stainless Steel. I have a meat grinder and slicer for jerky. So i think I am almost complete...I hope so...
  12. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have been making sausage for 4yrs now. I have been kicking the ideal around of buying a stuffer for the last year or so. I have used my grinder for the last 4yrs now and it has worked fine for me so far. Don't get me wrong,  I have been considering buying one and their are many people that I have had this discussion with and many of them make a stuffer seem like it would be a great addition to my process. It's just a priority thing and it’s not on the top of the list.... yet.  I have been looking at the one that Grizzly sells lately,  due to price and basically others recommendations, but if a stuffer is stopping you from making sausage, don't let it....make loose breakfast sausage or hamburger mix use your machine if it will stuff for you or anything you want.....Oh one more piece of advice, when mixing in your seasonings, mix just a little at a time, I usually mix the seasonings into a little cold water then into the meat, this way it will mix into the meat a little easier,  make a little patty and fry it to see how you like the mix and if you think it needs something or not. It’s always easier to add a little more than to try to "fix" something that is too salty of overpowered by another seasoning......If you fry and taste it you will know what is going on with your batch and will not have a unpleasant surprise once you have spent so much time and money then be disappointed.  
  13. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I would recommand that you use the ring method of smoking. You can just wrap them around a rod/dowel and just hang the rods on the lip used for the sheving / grates. 
  14. golson

    golson Fire Starter

    perfect advice. But won't cooking the sausage taste different than what it will be smoked? Dumb question i know.
  15. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    I'd just make two 10" sausages and loop them.  I cut dowel rods to fit in my smoker and wrapped them in foil.

    I stole a great piece of advice (I think it was from boyko?) to use zip ties (the plastic kind) to tie off the bottom of my Summer Sausage. I even *color code* them now, by flavor. I gave them a quick dip in bleach water, pre-looped them and lined them up next to my stuffer. Frikken sweet way for me to stuff solo!

    For more on sausage and stuffers and stuffing in general, see my links below in my sig line. ;)


  16. que-ball

    que-ball Smoking Fanatic

    Shoneyboy's advice is good, but applies to natural hog or sheep casings used for breakfast links, brats, polish sausage, etc.  This is why it's important to be as specific as possible when you ask a question.  No offense intended for anybody, so please don't take any.

    Golson's question (I think) referred to fibrous casings for summer sausage and such.  These sausages are fully cooked in the smoker, because they are smoked to a higher internal temperature, so they would not be cooked again.  Nothing wrong with heating up a few slices of summer sausage in the frying pan before making your sandwich though!

    Princess has a good suggestion about using wire zip ties to close and color code your fibrous casings if you're doing more than one kind.  I have an automatic hog ring stapler, so I accomplish the same thing by putting different numbers of hog rings on the end and keeping clear, mahogany, and printed casings all on hand.

    You can gain a little usable hanging length in your smoker by retying the original string loops smaller, or replacing the original dowels in your smoker with larger diameter ones.  Both will result in your casings hanging slightly higher, but the extra inch or so you gain may not be worth the bother.  You will still have plenty of headspace at the top for moisture to escape.
  17. golson

    golson Fire Starter

    Ok....Point well taken...The sausage I am smoking is venison using fibrous casings. I have attached a picture of the inside smoker. I hate to keep this topic open but a couple more questions came to mind. The measuring tape from top of rack to the water pan is 13.5 inches. I assume it is safe to have a dowl system in place on the top rack which i can hang my sausages down to around 12 inches or so. I don't like to go lower than that based on too close to the elements. I was told and read not to let the sausage casings TOUCH together so you can get them cooked evenly. Another thing i read was not to lay the venison sausages on a rack. I don't have any dowels but i assume square metal dowels placed on the top rack will be fine. 

    Am I on the right track?
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  18. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I don't see the pic, but then again I had the day off today [​IMG]  

    As far as hating to keep the topic open you have to remember that others are reading this and learning from our mistakes so the more discussion about somthing, good or bad helps others.

    As far as I'm concerned you can hang it from anything that will hold the weight,  the type of stick won't effect the flavor. and as far as laying then on racks....they might not be as pretty but they will taste 99% the same as a hung sausage.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  19. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

     I personally think that's wrong info...they will cook evenly, BUT the smoke color will not be on those parts of the sausagethat are touching big deal to me
  20. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    Dan is right.  If they touch, they just won't get any color on those spots and can, (if you are using natural casings) stick a bit and risk tearing. Flavor loss is minimal in those spots.

    But hey... Bearcarver does not use casings at ALL. He just racks them to get AS much smoke as possible. They may not be "fancy-pretty" but they sure do look like they taste good, and he's way more knowledgeable than I am.

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