Casing management?

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eightysixCJ
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Casing management?

Post by eightysixCJ » Mon Mar 19, 2012 02:07

Hello all,

I finally made my first batch, a whole lot of fun. Organizing/separating the hank of hog casings was a learning experience. I figured out spreading them out on a 6-foot folding table was the way to go. Rinsing had some more learning. A couple of questions;

How much rinsing of the inside of the casing is needed? I filled about 10-inches of casing with water and raised the casing to flow the water through the length. Is that ok to do once, or twice, or more?

Is there a trick to prevent the long casings from knotting up as the water flushes through and twist the casing?

Thanks,

Tom
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Post by Chuckwagon » Mon Mar 19, 2012 06:36

Hi Tom,

Hog casings (upper intestines) are sold in 91-meter lengths cut into "hanks" 1 to 2 meters long and gathered into bundles called "shorts". Their average diameter is about 35 millimeters and may be used for cooked sausages, pepperoni, Italian sausage, Kielbasa, Kishka, larger franks, and a host of other stuffed sausages.

Hog middles (middle intestines called "chitterlings") are curly in appearance and cut into one-meter lengths, sold in bundles of nine or ten. They are available in wide, medium, or narrow calibers, determined by the location of the item within the animal. Middles are ideal for Braunschweiger, liver sausages, dry salami, and Italian salami. Hog bungs (called "fat ends") are the intestine`s extreme southern end of a north-bound pig. Bungs are sold individually and are used primarily for liver sausage and Branschweiger, Genoa salami, Thuringer, and summer sausage. Diameters vary from 55 to 90 millimeters.

There is no real "trick" to handling the stuff, but there are a few things that may help. First, you need a large, washable, work surface or table. It`s best if it has a small tilt to drain water, and even better, a sink in it. Stainless steel is ideal but expensive. If you go to the plumbing and hardware shop, you can get all sorts of ideas for making your own nozzle for quick loading of casings. I have a slippery plastic "gooseneck" rising straight up from a sink in the table. The pipe is reduced to 3/4" and rises a foot and a half then makes a u-turn before being cut off, leaving plenty of workspace. A custom pointed nozzle (I made myself) fits on the end. When a "short" of hanks is removed from the cooler, I place it in a plastic bucket of water to help with the handling of the thing and to find ends. I pull the ends up over the edge of the bucket until I need them. Next, I trim the ragged ends squarely with a pair of scissors. This makes for easy loading onto the nozzle. I`ve found that if I keep a small open bowl of salt on the table, I can dip my forefinger and thumb in it to help with the handling of the casings when laying them out on the table. I place another plastic bucket into the table-sink and fill it with water. I place only one casing at a time into it while a small stream of water straightens it out in coils in the water. This is the time to loosen and straighten any knots or twists - while it`s filled with water - IN the water. You may have to turn off the flow for a moment or two while you straighten them out so as not to "blow out" a casing. A little practice makes this operation much easier, believe me. Have a little patience and practice by making lots of sausage. When the water reaches the end of the casing and flows out, I increase the flow and flush out the salt thoroughly. I`ve heard of people flushing their casing for as much as 30 minutes but I believe that is much too long. Just be sure they are flushed cleanly and are free of salt. My stuffer swivels to the sink for easy loading but I still start by filling a water "bubble" inside each casing so it lubricates the nozzle as it slides on. The bubble of water stays in front of the stuffing horn as the casing slides onto the horn. I never use butter or any other "lubricant" as this will cause "smearing" and problems with texture later in the smoker. If you are not near a sink, you may have to use a dish of water to start your bubble.

Just one more suggestion if I may. I`ve said this before but I`ll say it again, as I believe it is really important. Use a vertical, geared, stuffer to stuff your sausages. You`ll never realize just how much work this little gem will save you in the long run. I just priced a 5 lb. vertical stuffer at the Sausagemaker. Their basic no-frills model is #50510. It sells for 125 bucks and has a stainless steel cylinder and chrome-plated frame. Pretty hard to beat that. Yes, it has nylon gears but there's a reason for having them (Lubricomp™) See the tech forum for a discussion about this topic. If a prudent person stops cranking when the piston hits the bottom of the cylinder, they should last indefinitely. I used one of these for years and still use it when making smaller batches. I`ve found it to be a top quality product. Look at it as an investment. It will pay for itself in the long run and prevent you from using foul language around the kitchen!

One last thing... please don`t waste your money on one of those curved "horn-type" stuffers. It requires three men and a boy just to pull the lever down... and your language will go from bad to worse. Why, I`ve seen full-grown men throw a fit right in their own kitchen, just trying to pull that handle down. Soon, a blue cloud of language hangs over the house and the police are called in. The little woman starts packing her bags and the poor sausage stuffin` cowboy is taken away in a straight-jacket muttering all sorts of indecent, incoherent syllables with inappropriate 4-letter words. So, play it safe and purchase a vertical, geared, stuffer and save your sanity. :lol:

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
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Post by eightysixCJ » Mon Mar 19, 2012 15:02

Thank you very much Chuckwagon. I did figure out that it was much easier untangling under water. I like the idea of rinsing them out on a table. If I can't set that up, is rinsing in a large bicker possible without knotting?

I gather the couple of passes I did with a bubble of water did not thoroughly flush the casing. Do I want to flush them with running water until it runs clear?

I did get the TSM 5# stuffer. It worked great with no effort (my 6 year old did most of the cranking) and was vertually clean and empty at the end of each press. No 4-letter words with this set up. ;)

Tom
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Post by Oxide » Mon Mar 19, 2012 17:56

Tom, my experience has been whenever the casings are in the water, any water flowing into the bowl/bucket will cause mass confusion to the casings, they freak out and tie themselves into knots.

As Chuckwagon mentioned, find the ends, drape it over the edge of the bowl/bucket, take them out one at a time as needed. I don't have a fancy setup, it's a 'normal' kitchen. :mrgreen: So I put a casing in a separate bowl to rinse so it doesn't knot.

As far as rinsing casings, I turn them inside out, rinse, them turn them again. Strangely, some casings are already turned, some are not. I like the spidery membranes on the outside, some people like them on the inside.
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Post by eightysixCJ » Wed Mar 21, 2012 04:25

Oxide wrote:Tom, my experience has been whenever the casings are in the water, any water flowing into the bowl/bucket will cause mass confusion to the casings, they freak out and tie themselves into knots.

As Chuckwagon mentioned, find the ends, drape it over the edge of the bowl/bucket, take them out one at a time as needed. I don't have a fancy setup, it's a 'normal' kitchen. :mrgreen: So I put a casing in a separate bowl to rinse so it doesn't knot.

As far as rinsing casings, I turn them inside out, rinse, them turn them again. Strangely, some casings are already turned, some are not. I like the spidery membranes on the outside, some people like them on the inside.
Thanks. I see that. This is one of life's lessons you need to experience to master. I did not think to turn them inside out also. I'll spend a bit more time on the rinse next time.

How far ahead of time can I rinse and prep the casings, would the day before and soak in the fridge work?

Tom
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Post by two_MN_kids » Thu Mar 22, 2012 21:42

If I place unused but rinsed casing back into a brine, how long will they keep in the refrigerator? I have a bad habit of prepping too many for my projects.

Jim~I have so much to learn!
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Post by Chuckwagon » Fri Mar 23, 2012 00:51

Jim, once back in the brine, they should last indefinately.

P.S. Did you happen to notice a goofy anatidae fly by here within the last couple of minutes. Hmmm... where's my .12 gauge?

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
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Post by IdaKraut » Sun Mar 25, 2012 19:51

I have quit using bulk casings and have been using ones that are "tubed" onto plastic that makes loading the casings onto the stuffer tubes a breeze. Yes, they may cost a bit more, but no more knotted messes. Plus they are preflushed and only need some rinsing in cool water. I like to use this company: http://www.makincasing.com/
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Post by eightysixCJ » Mon Mar 26, 2012 18:38

IdaKraut wrote:I have quit using bulk casings and have been using ones that are "tubed" onto plastic that makes loading the casings onto the stuffer tubes a breeze. Yes, they may cost a bit more, but no more knotted messes. Plus they are preflushed and only need some rinsing in cool water. I like to use this company: http://www.makincasing.com/
How do you prep them? Do you soak them on the tube?

Tom
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Post by IdaKraut » Tue Mar 27, 2012 17:57

How do you prep them? Do you soak them on the tube?

Tom[/quote]

Yes, they are already pre-flushed so all you do is set a tube into cool water to soak for a few minutes and then rinse under running water. What makes these handy is that each tube will do a certain quantity of sausage and once you start stuffing, you can pretty well guesstimate how many more tubes you need to soak in water to finish the job. I seldom do more than 15 lbs at a time, so this makes it really easy. If I have any left over, they can be re-salted and placed back in the fridge.

Rudy
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Post by eightysixCJ » Wed Mar 28, 2012 04:05

Thanks Rudy,

That sounds good to me, I'll give them a try.

Tom
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Post by eightysixCJ » Thu Mar 29, 2012 02:06

How long will casings stay fresh if they are rinsed and soaked in fresh water in the fridge?


Tom
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Post by ssorllih » Thu Mar 29, 2012 03:23

They are just fresh meat. So my bet is not long at 36°and just a little longer at 32.2°. I wouldn't allow more than a couple of days.
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Post by eightysixCJ » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:36

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks.

Tom
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Post by IdaKraut » Thu Mar 29, 2012 16:28

eightysixCJ wrote:How long will casings stay fresh if they are rinsed and soaked in fresh water in the fridge?


Tom
Tom, if you have any leftover casings after they have been rinsed in water to remove salt, you could simply let the casings dry enough so they're not dripping wet and then pack them in a zip-lock bags with plenty of kosher or non-iodized salt. I've done this many times and the re-salted casings will last at least 6 months in the fridge. You don't want to ever freeze casings since they will then split or rupture much easier when eventually stuffed (ask me how I know :sad: ).

Rudy
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