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With ideas of sausage swirling in my head I decided to purchase a sausage stuffer and some casings from Butcher & Packer. There are a couple of other sites that one can purchase sausage casings (LEM, The Sausage Maker & Amazon are three more) but I found Butcher & Packer to have fair prices with shipping and their website is also educational on the subject of sausages and other sundry meat processing topics.

For the Spicy Italian Sausage I ordered the 32/35mm Natural Hog casings and for the Breakfast Sausage I ordered the 21mm Clear Edible Collagen Casing. The process for stuffing sausages (described below) is pretty much the same for each casing but the preparation of the casings is very different. One thing to realize is that Collagen casing do not stretch a lot when they are being stuffed, so it is very easy to over stuff the casing a bust it open (like I have done).

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Prepping Collagen Cases

- Collagen cases are made from animal protein and arrive bunched up & wrapped in plastic. I always store unused collagen casings in the refrigerator in order to protect them from bacteria.

- Unlike natural hog, beef and sheep casings, you should not soak these prior to use. If you do, it will cause the casing to rip easier (I learned the hard way).

- For 3 lbs of sausage you will need approximately 4 feet of casings (un-bunched)

Prepping Natural Casings (mmmm animal guts)

-Natural casings come wrapped and packed in salt (the salt acts as a preservative and helps prevent the growth of bacteria).

- Natural casings, prior to prepping, look stringy and dried out, this is normal. When I first saw them I thought, "How the heck and I going to stuff anything into this?" Just have faith.

- For 4 lbs of sausage you will need approximately 4-5 feet of casings (pre-prepped). I usually prep a little more just to be safe (in case they bust open from over-stuffing).

- Place cases that you are prepping in a colander (the others can stay, well wrapped, in salt & in the refrigerator for up to a year).

- Rinse the casings with cold water until the salt is gone and then place the casings in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes.

- Rinse the casings a second time and this time open one end of the casing and let the water run through it. This helps to rid the inside of the casing of any salt (I always find this part fun).

- Return the casings to a bowl of fresh cold water (about two cups) and add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. The vinegar helps to soften the casing to make it easier to stuff. Let this stand for another 30 minutes.

- Rinse one last time with cold water and prepare to stuff some sausage!

Stuffing the Sausage

- There are a couple of different tools to stuff sausage with & as I mentioned earlier, I use the 5lb LEM Sausage Stuffer. Please note, the process below is for this style of sausage stuffer. For a more in depth discussion on sausage stuffers (hehehe, sorry, it's my sophmoric humor coming through) please see Home Sausage Making: How-To Techniques for Making and Enjoying 100 Sausages at Home by Susan Mahnke Peery.

- The first step in the sausage making process is to make sure your equipment is clean. As a nurse I feel it's important to make a little public service announcement about Infection Control and safe handling of meat. When cleaning my equipment I always use a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 100 parts water) and then I rinse the equipment very very well. Also please make sure your meat remains cold throughout the process, the last thing you want is for you or your guests to wind up ill.

- With the meat cold and the equipment clean it is now time to place your sausage mixture into the metal tube and attach the appropriate sized plastic stuffing tube.

- Lightly grease the plastic stuffing tube with a vegetable oil (I use Olive Oil). This helps to slide the sausage casings on and off the tube.

- Take your prepped sausage casing, open one end and slide it on the tube. This is a part of the process that takes practice so don't get frustrated (like I did) when the casing doesn't slid on super easy. With a little practice I promise you will get the hang of it and the next time will be much easier.

- Once the casing is on the tube turn the crank of the stuffer until a little bit of the sausage starts to peak out of the tubes opening.

- Now pull off a little of the casing that is closest to the tubes opening and tie it off, attempting to get as little air in the casing as possible.

- Lightly grasp bunched casing on the plastic tube and SLOWLY turn the crank. This is a meditation & a balancing act. Turn to fast and hold on to the casings too lightly and you get a lot of air in the casing. Turn too slow and hold on to the casings too much and you risk over-stuffing (aka busting open) the sausage (Remember: Patience & Practice & it is ok to make a mistake).

- When you get close to the end of the casing be sure to leave about two inches of un-stuffed casing.

- At this point you have two options: Keep the sausage in one big curled link (this looks great grilled for presentation) or twist them into links.

- For the big curled link (I am sure there is a fancy name for this) just tie off the end and use a small pin to prick the casing in areas where there are air pockets. [Why rid it of air? That is a good question with two answers. First, Air helps bacteria to grow in these air pockets and second, these air pockets can trap grease and "pop" when grilling, causing a nasty little grease burn]

- For links, remove the end of the casing from the plastic tube and leave it open. Grabbing the tied off end measure off a link (size is up to you) and twist it clockwise. Measure the next link and twist it COUNTER-clockwise and repeat (alternating between clockwise and counter clockwise). When you get to the last link tie off the end and prick the air pockets with a needle.

- If you have already let the loose sausage sit overnight (in the refrigerator) then you can now cook, smoke or freeze/refrigerate the sausage. If not, please cover the sausage and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight so the flavors meld (this is a step you do not want to skip.unless you want dull flavored sausage).

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Posted in Landscaping Post Date 05/14/2017


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