Problem : Warm environment increases bacteria growth.
Solution : Keep meat block below 40º F (4.44º C) or cooler. Do not freeze — it can weaken the casing once opened. Seal collagen and fibrous casings in vacuum pouches or a sealed plastic bag in a dry cooler once opened.
Problem : Improper storage spoils ingredients.
Solution : Keep natural casings in salt or brine in a cooler at 40º F (4.44º C) or lower. Do not freeze — it can weaken the casing once opened. Seal collagen and fibrous casings in vacuum pouches or a sealed plastic bag in a dry cooler once opened.
Grease inside casing
Problem : Softened fat forms smeared grease on inside of casing, creating patches of opaque material which obscure particle definition.
Solution : Keep meat block temperature at 32º–34º F (0º–1.1º C) when processing and don’t overwork the sausage formula, which creates friction and heat that softens the fat particles. Also, changing from a smooth horn to a fluted horn may minimize or eliminate smearing.
Problem : Oxidation causes sausage to change colors.
Solution : Use UV-filtered plastic overwrap on tray packs. Use it on manufactured-style fresh sausage along with UV-blocking overwrap to increase sausage sales.
Problem : Cloudy appearance makes it more difficult to see fresh ingredients in sausage, which is unappealing to consumers.
Solution : Hog casings can vary in thickness and opacity, so buy casings with more clarity. Ask your Oversea Casing Account Executive for alternatives.
Problem : Sausage casings split open.
- Don’t overstuff. Make sure stuffed circumference matches manufacturer’s recommended measurements.
- Dry casings until sweat is out, then smoke and finish in high humidity of at least 50%.
- Soak casings in 90º–100º F (32.2º-37.7º C) for 20–30 minutes and make sure water gets inside casings.
- Check stuffing horn, clipper, stuffing table or racks in the smokehouse for burrs or nicks, which can cause splitting.
- Use high-quality, fresh raw materials. High bacteria counts in meat will explode the casing during cooking.
Problem : Casing looks wrinkled.
- Do not understuff. Make sure stuffed circumference matches manufacturer’s recommended measurements.
- Shower then hold casings at room temperature 30–60 minutes before placing in cooler. Cooling too quickly will wrinkle casings.
- Adjust clipper if metal clips slip during cooking.
Not Taking Smoke
Problem : Casings won’t absorb smoke.
Solution : Make sure casing isn’t too wet, forming a barrier that prevents smoke absorption. It should be tacky to the touch when put into the smokehouse.
Problem : Too much humidity causes streaks.
Solution : Control humidity levels before and during smoking to prevent droplets of moisture from running down the product, washing off the smoke and causing streaks.
Problem : High humidity during smoke cycle results in muddy appearance.
Solution : Start smoke when casings are tacky to touch. Smoke at 25–30% R.H. and finish at least at 50% humidity.
Casing separating from meat
Problem : Casings release and detach from the meat.
- Soak casings in water at 90º–100º F (32.2–37.77º C) for 20–30 minutes and make sure water gets inside the casings.
- Avoid very high humidity and drying in the first cycle, which can cause early casing release and separation.
- Use a protein-coated casing to adhere casings to the meat. It is best used on summer sausage, beef logs and products not intended for peeling and slicing.
Casing won’t stuff out to an even diameter
Problem : Casing won’t stuff evenly.
Solution : Soak casings in water at 90º–100º F (32.2–37.77º C) for 20-30 minutes and make sure water gets inside the casings. Improperly soaked casings won’t stuff correctly.
Pear or teardrop shape
Problem : Casings aren’t shaped correctly.
- Soak casings in water at 90º–100º F (32.2–37.77º C) for 20–30 minutes and make sure water gets inside the casings. Improperly soaked casings won’t shape out right.
- Don’t understuff. Make sure stuffed circumference matches manufacturer’s recommended measurements.
- Beware large diameter casings in very long pieces: They may contain too much weight for the casing walls to keep their shape.
Bursting in the smokehouse
Problem : Sausage casing burst open while smoking.
- Check clipper setting to ensure metal clips aren’t too tight.
- Inspect clips, clipper or other equipment in contact with sausage for burrs or nicks.
- Use strong casings. Those that are weak and have holes can cause bursting.
- Check smoke cycle and consider adjusting.
- Consult with your Oversea Casing account executive for additional help.
Problem : Pockets of grease form inside the casing or on outside of the sausage.
- Check your meat block. The choice of meat block is important to achieve a good emulsion that will not separate or grease out.
- Use muscle meat to make an emulsion that will bind everything together to stand up under the heat of processing. Connective tissue or organ meats aren’t good for binding. They require additional protein sources such as milk powder or soy protein.
- Check your smoke cycle and temperatures, which play a key role in setting protein to hold emulsion together.
- Consult with your smokehouse supplier.
Problem : Light patches without smoke color.
- Make sure sausage is tacky to the touch, but not too wet when it goes into the smokehouse. Water forms a barrier to smoke absorption.
- Check smoke circulation and balance in the smokehouse. Smoke flow should be even throughout.
- If using liquid smoke, check nozzles to ensure proper atomization.
- Make sure smokehouse is properly filled, not too full, and product should not be touching.
Problem : Colors are not uniform.
- Check mixing cycle to be sure the cure is dispersed throughout the formulation.
- Consider adjusting cook cycle for better reddening.
- Check smoke circulation and balance in smokehouse, as the uneven color could be a smoking issue.
Problem : Smoke sausage color starts fading as soon as it leaves smokehouse.
Solution : Use UV-filtering plastic packaging, which can help but won't stop color loss.
Problem : Powdery, white spots appear on smoke sausage after showering.
Solution : Check for hard water. Some water supplies have high lime content that leaves a powdery residue.