Stuffing Natural Casings
Step-by-step instructions for stuffing natural casings. Natural casings usually come to the consumer pre-flushed and packed in salt or a salt brine. They should be thoroughly rinsed in cold water (three or four times) and soaked overnight in a refrigerator prior to using. Leftovers can be repacked in salt and stored in a refrigerator for up to one year.
To begin the process choose a recipe and gather up all the ingredients. Weigh out the appropriate amount of meat and coarse grind through 3/8" or 1/2" grinder plate one time. Add salt, curing salt if you're making smoked sausage according to recipe; mix thoroughly. If your using premixed seasoning add to meat at this time. Make a small quarter-size patty from the seasoned meat and fry until the patty is fully cooked. Cool and taste. Make changes at this time and keep notes so you can duplicate your final results. Next, fill the stuffer with the seasoned meat mixture.
Slide a strand of presoaked casing onto the appropriate sized sausage funnel (1/2" funnel for sheep casings and 3/4" funnel for hog casings). Slide the casing until it's flush with the funnel opening. Crank or turn on the power an begin filling the casing with the sausage mixture, pinching the end of the casing with your forefinger and thumb so the mixture doesn't spill out of the casing. Your objective is to maintain a firm, uniform thickness without bursting the casing. If you're not sure just how full they need to be cut off a couple feet of filled casing and practice twisting some links.
Position your forefinger and thumb at the point where you want to form a link and press gently. Carefully twist the link clock wise five or six times. Repeat the procedure and twist your next link counterclockwise. Continue, alternating twists from clockwise to counterclockwise until you're done.
1. Rinse natural casings in cold water 2-to-3 times; add additional water and refrigerate overnight. Or rinse in lukewarm water and use immediately.
2. Combine meat and fat with seasonings and all ingredients: mix thoroughly.
3. Slide prepared natural casing onto sausage funnel; leave about one inch hanging from the funnel.
4. Start the sausage mixture into the casing; squeeze the end of the casing between the forefinger and thumb so the casing begins to fill with the mixture.
5. Continue stuffing the sausage mixture into the casing, filling the casing snugly but not so tight it will burst open during the linking process.
6. To form links press the casing gently with your forefinger and thumb and twist four or five times in one direction, repeat and twist in the opposite direction.
7. Another method is to press into the casing with the forefinger and thumb, then tie off the link with butcher twine which gives your sausage an old-fashioned flair.
8. To smoke the links position them evenly along a smokestick making sure the links don't touch as they won't color properly.