Page 1 of 1

Tough Casings - Causes and Solutions

Posted: Mon May 08, 2017 05:43
by redzed
Butterbean wrote:Speaking of tough casings on smoked sausages, what are some things you can do to prevent this?

I don't think my smoked sausages have tough skins - in my opinion - but I have a lady who loves my smoked sausages but complains about the tough casings. I'd like to satisfy her in this area but I don't know if its just her subjectivity or what because I can't see where mine are any "tougher" than store bought smoked sausages.

That is a very good question! And in my specific situation described above I am confident in ascribing the reason for the tough casing to the heat and low RH in my electric smoker. But there are so many different causes of hard casing, so each situation has to be evaluated on this own. I will start a new thread, and we will Sticky it for future reference, where we will discuss the many reasons why the casing is hard. The other question is why can't we easily peel off the casings? In some sausage cultures the casing is always removed before consuming the sausage, for example many of the German sausages such as the weisswurst. I can think of almost a dozen reasons already and will also take a look at the Polish forum and start the new thread tomorrow.

Tough Casings

Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 13:29
by Bob K
I also have to admit that I don't like smoked pork casings because they always seem chewy, even if they have a "snap" when bitten into. Fresh sausage Poached or grilled the casing seems to be tender. My solution has been to use cellulose casings for smoked sausage, so a skinless sausage.
redzed wrote:In some sausage cultures the casing is always removed before consuming the sausage, for example many of the German sausages such as the weisswurst.

Casings on poached sausage are more easily peeled. Many Germans consider Pig casings tough and prefer sheep. Br├╝hwurst (scalded or poached sausage) like weisswurst and fleischwurst are peeled or or literally zuzeln (sucked) out of there skin. :mrgreen: ... eisswurst/

Posted: Mon May 15, 2017 23:11
by redzed
Why is my casing tough, hard or chewy? That is a question that is impossible to answer with any certainty, as each situation can be different and in fact there are many reasons. Below is a compilation of some of the reasons and causes that I gathered from my personal experience, from talking to seasoned sausage makers and from the Polish forum of Wedliny Domowe. Feel free to comment and add to the list. My list concerns itself with standard salted hog casings, but we can also discuss other natural casings here is well
1. To begin with, the casings should be properly prepared. Most manufacturers instructions will advise you to soak the casings for one hour, flush and soak for one more hour. But soaking longer and changing the water more often will never hurt. The key here is not only to re-hydrate the salt preserved intestine, but also to get rid of the salt. So just to make sure that this is accomplished, soak the casing for a couple of hours, flush out the inside, change the water over several hours, and change the water a couple of times more before stuffing. Best is to plan ahead and start soaking in the fridge a couple of days in advance.

2. Hobbyists/amateurs tend to smoke theirs sausages longer than do the commercial processors. The long smoking phase will result in a dryer sausage and a tough casing. Next time you are smoking weigh a few sausages before and after smoking, and you will discover that you can have a weight loss of as much as 10%. Electric smokers are particularly notorious for this. Placing a pan of water in the smoker can help, but also try shortening the smoking time. Once the sausage has achieved good colour, turn up the heat and bring it up to the necessary IT. If you like the flavour of a heavily smoked sausage and will be smoking it heavily for a long time, don't expect the casing to be soft. Instead use a collagen casing and peel before consumption.

3. Poaching the sausage after it has picked up colour will almost always result in a softer casing. But if you keep it in the smoker for an extended period of time, poaching will not help.

4. After stuffing the sausage needs to set. This is usually accomplished at room temp for 1-3 hours, or several hours in a refrigerated environment. Here we have to be careful so that the casings do not dry out too much. They should be dry to the touch but still moist and flexible. If the casing dries to the consistency of paper, the casing will be tough. Hanging in a frost free fridge with air blowing over the sausages is also not recommended.

5. When stuffing, the farce should be packed in firmly with as little air as possible. Loosely stuffed sausage with air between the casing and meat will cause a dry casing. On the other hand, if the sausage is stuffed too tightly, the casing will be stretched out to its maximum and may also become tough.

6. Start smoking with at a lower temp, 52-55C. Once the sausage starts taking on colour increase the temp to 60C. A hot smoker will quickly dry and shrink the natural casing.

7. If cooling with water, after smoking or poaching do not chill thoroughly. There still needs to be some warmth inside the sausage to dry the exterior. There are also claims that ice cold water should not be used but rather room temp water.

8. The addition of a large amount of binders such as soy protein powder, or non fat milk powder (non-instant) may cause excessive adherence of the meat to the casing which will harden when heated, giving the illusion that the casing is tough, when in fact a dry ring is formed on the meat inside. My dad, a Polish trained butcher, claims that it is also more difficult or even impossible, to peel off the casing a sausage with binder will also be harder .

9. And of course one of the main causes of a tough casing is the casing itself. Larger diameter casings and especially those from older pigs will be naturally tough. Casings not prepared properly by the processor may also be faulty and therefore hard. And we have come to terms that natural hog casings are just that, and no two are alike.

Posted: Tue May 16, 2017 01:45
by Butterbean
Thanks Redzed for a great explanation. I've found following some of these steps makes the smoked sausages more tender to me but there is always that person - like the one I referred to - whose idea of tenderness is - I'm afraid - unattainable with smoked sausages. However, I will continue to experiment with different things and see if I can't please her. (women can be pleased right?)

Posted: Tue May 16, 2017 12:41
by K98 AL
"Hobbyists/amateurs tend to smoke theirs sausages longer than do the commercial processors. The long smoking phase will result in a dryer sausage and a tough casing."

I noticed this by accident - sausages that I didn't have time to smoke as long, actually had a nicer casing and better "feel" than ones I smoked longer. (what I'd assumed was better)

One thing I've noticed, though - boudin, whether I buy it or make it always seems to have a tough casing. I use the same hog casing for it as I would for a smoked sausage or bratwurst. Could be the absent poaching step has a pretty big influence on toughness.