Tough sausage casings


 

Will Tory

New member
Have been smoking and grilling on a Weber Performer Platinum and an 18 ½ WSM for 6 years and am pleased with the results except for sausage. My story:

I have struggled with maintaining low temperature on the WSM. I can maintain 135° F, 140° F and usually 150° F, but really have trouble maintaining the 160° F without experiencing fat out – chasing the temperature peaks and valleys. Temperatures at 225° F , 250° F are stable. I have used the snake method, the Minion method and just adding briquettes without any improvement in temperature control.

Purchased a BBQ Guru, and my experience was that it would allow WSM temperatures to fluctuate considerably. Based on many smoking forum recommendations, purchased an MES only to find a 25-30 degree fluctuation in temperatures. The experts told me that a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) is needed in order to precisely control temperature swings.

Since I really like the Weber cookers, and enjoy cooking on them (other than sausage), the only reason for purchasing the electric smoker was for sausage, however am reluctant to continue spending money on it chasing the sausage making hobby. After reading the Kutas and Marianski books thoroughly, I have quit chasing on-line recipes and have created the smoked sausage recipe that we enjoy, so am confident in that aspect of sausage making.

Part two of my sausage making dilemma is tough casings. I have been told that high temperatures, overnight refrigerator storage (dry casing) and improper casing preparation cause tough casings. I have used salt-packed casings, salt solution-packed casings, and casings from a local butcher. Have washed, flushed and rinsed casings daily for one week with no improvement. Is it that I am chasing the elusive “snap” bite with my sausages?

Since my WSM has a small leak at the fuel door, and another at the lid rim, I have ordered a seal kit. Hopefully that will improve the temperature control.

Is it possible to smoke cured sausage on a WSM? Hopefully the experts here are doing it, and are willing to pass on their knowledge.
 

Rich G

TVWBB Honor Circle
Hey, Will. You had asked some other questions about maintaining temps, did the answers you got in both those threads help you? I don't think I saw you respond, though I may have missed it....

As far as tough casings go..... First, can you give us more info about the sausages you are smoking? Are they store bought, or homemade (I'm guessing homemade since you discuss casings in your post, but just checking)? What style of sausage? If you made them, give us a bit of detail on the formulation, etc?

You noted some of the usual suspects in terms of tough casings above..... Source/quality of the casings could be a factor, though you did mention you tried a few already. I have also found that low temp smoking of sausages can also result in a casing that's tougher than a grilled fresh sausage, but not that I could consider "tough". Also, if you start at a very low temp, then ramp it up to finish fully in the "smokehouse", I find that's a tougher casing than just keeping them in the smoker long enough to get the smoke flavor/color, then finishing them in a 170F degree poaching bath, then cool quickly. I find the casings done this way to be a bit more tender than the former.

Last but not least, have you calibrated/tested your thermometers lately to make sure they are reading accurately? Always good to rule that one out.

I hope some of that is food for thought, and hopefully some of the other sausage makers here will see this and chime in. Thoughts?

Rich
 

Will Tory

New member
So I guess I'll simplify this subject by asking who successfully smokes semi-cured (homemade sausages with cure #1) sausages in their 18" WSM, and what is your procedure?
 

Rich G

TVWBB Honor Circle
I have very successfully done just that. As I posted in response to your question in another thread, I use the snake method both with and without my DigiQ. I can keep the temp easily between 160-180 (I shoot for lower). Once I have had the sausage in the smoke long enough to develop the color I like, I poach them in a 170F water bath until they reach 152-155F internal temp. Chill immediately in an ice water bath, let bloom in fridge overnight, eat or package/freeze.

Both Dustin and Eric replied with some of their info in response to your other questions. I wish you good luck!

Rich
 

Bob H.

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Have been smoking and grilling on a Weber Performer Platinum and an 18 ½ WSM for 6 years and am pleased with the results except for sausage. My story:

I have struggled with maintaining low temperature on the WSM. I can maintain 135° F, 140° F and usually 150° F, but really have trouble maintaining the 160° F without experiencing fat out – chasing the temperature peaks and valleys. Temperatures at 225° F , 250° F are stable. I have used the snake method, the Minion method and just adding briquettes without any improvement in temperature control.

Purchased a BBQ Guru, and my experience was that it would allow WSM temperatures to fluctuate considerably. Based on many smoking forum recommendations, purchased an MES only to find a 25-30 degree fluctuation in temperatures. The experts told me that a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) is needed in order to precisely control temperature swings.

Since I really like the Weber cookers, and enjoy cooking on them (other than sausage), the only reason for purchasing the electric smoker was for sausage, however am reluctant to continue spending money on it chasing the sausage making hobby. After reading the Kutas and Marianski books thoroughly, I have quit chasing on-line recipes and have created the smoked sausage recipe that we enjoy, so am confident in that aspect of sausage making.

Part two of my sausage making dilemma is tough casings. I have been told that high temperatures, overnight refrigerator storage (dry casing) and improper casing preparation cause tough casings. I have used salt-packed casings, salt solution-packed casings, and casings from a local butcher. Have washed, flushed and rinsed casings daily for one week with no improvement. Is it that I am chasing the elusive “snap” bite with my sausages?

Since my WSM has a small leak at the fuel door, and another at the lid rim, I have ordered a seal kit. Hopefully that will improve the temperature control.

Is it possible to smoke cured sausage on a WSM? Hopefully the experts here are doing it, and are willing to pass on their knowledge.
Just use a steak knife for the sausage?
 

 

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