Sausage Making

How to Make Sausages.

Whether you’re new to the craft or an experienced hand, it’s always good to keep up with a few tips and tricks when it comes to sausage making so we’ve given Luke (the owner of The New Zealand Casings Co) a bit of a spruce up and set him loose in front of the camera to do what he loves to do best – making great tasting sausages using our 100% natural sausage casings. Make sure you listen right to the end to hear his number 1 tip.

It’s Time to Make Sausages…

How to Use our Natural Sausage Casings:

  • Rinse Your Casings. It is essential to rinse all visible salt off the casings. Do this by running the casing under the tap using cold water. Try to massage between the folds. Do not remove the casing from the tube provided.
  • Soak Your Casings. Once rinsed, you must soak your casings in fresh, warm water, ideally between 20°C and 30°C (68-86°F). (FYI your body temperature is 37°C so your water should be cooler than your body temp). Make sure they are fully submerged and avoid water any hotter than 30°C/86°F. Soak your casings for at least 45 minutes. Alternatively, casings can be soaked overnight in cold tap water.
  • Get the Right Sized Nozzle. Different sized casings need a different sized sausage maker nozzle (also known as funnel, stuffing tube or stuffing horn). Sheep casings require a smaller nozzle than hog casings. For our casings we strongly recommend a 13mm/0.5″ nozzle. 13mm/0.5″ is the width/diameter of the nozzle at its tip.
  • Thread your Casing onto the Nozzle. Our casings have been threaded onto tubes for easier use. Remove the casing from the water and slide the casing tube onto the piping nozzle. Slide the casing off the casing tube onto the sausage making nozzle. Tie a knot in the end of the casing. You are ready to start filling.

Steps to Making the Perfect Sausage:

  • Chill everything. One of the most important things to remember when making sausages is to keep everything cold. You want to use meat and fat that is almost frozen. If you grind meat that is warm or room temp it will turn into sludge, cold meat grinds really nicely. This is because warmth ruins the emulsification (structure) of the meat and prevents both liquid and fat from absorbing into the meat. This leads to a dry, crumbly and less flavourful sausage. We recommend putting your meat or sausage mix and also your grinder blade and plate into the freezer for a minimum of 20 minutes before you start your grinding and sausage making. If you have a large batch of meat, keep anything you can’t fit into your grinder/sausage maker in the fridge until you need it.
  • Prepare your Meat. Trim and discard any hard fat and nerves from the meat. Cut meat into small cubes (about 2.5cm/1 inch).
  • Mix Meat and Seasonings. Using your hands, combine the diced meat, fat, salt, pepper and any other ingredients (herbs, spices, garlic etc) in a big mixing bowl.
  • Grind your Meat Mix. Set the sausage grinder on coarse grind. Gradually feed meat into the grinder, combining it with pieces of fat to achieve an even blend of meat and fat. Note that the finer you grind the meat the finer the texture will become (with less visible bits) and the firmer the sausage will be.
  • Give Everything a Good Mix. Thoroughly mix the meat and spices by hand (preferable) in an oversized bowl or in your electric mixer using a paddle attachment for at least 2-4 minutes to help the mix bind. You know the mix is ready when you grab a handful and tip your hand upside down. If it sticks to the palm of your hand it is ready.
  • Pack Your Sausage Stuffer. Assemble your sausage stuffer. Place the sausage mix into a piping bag or fill the stuffing machine sausage meat canister. Press down and compact the meat to get rid of any air pockets. Put any meat that doesn’t fit back into the fridge until you are ready for it.

How to Fill Your Sausages:

  • Fill your Sausages. Press the knot at the end of the sausage casing firmly against the end of the sausage nozzle. Begin piping the sausage mix into the casing, ensuring the meat is filling the casing evenly. Pinch the casing every 15cm/6 inches to make space to later create links in the sausages. When all the meat is fed into the casing, turn off the machine and tie a secure knot at the end of the casing.
  • The amount of fill is a balancing act you will get better at the more times you do it. Ideally, you want to find the sweet spot where the casing is filled with meat and a little amount of air remains but not so full that it will burst when you begin twisting or the skin will snap open when you cook it. However, generally speaking, it’s better to very slightly over-stuff than under-stuff your sausages, since fat and moisture will escape during cooking, making the meat shrink.
  • Make the Links: To make the links in your sausage, pinch and twist the filled sausage casing with thumb and forefinger approximately 15cm/6 inch apart, then and spin the sausage between your fingers (kind of like a skipping rope). Move your way along the filled casing, making sure to spin the sausage in alternating directions for each sausage.
  • Note that you cannot make sausage links with collagen casings (they will just untwist), which is another great reason to choose natural sausage casings.
  • Hang Your Sausages. Once you’ve mastered all of that, your sausages need to be hung in a cool, dry place for around 24 hours. This gives the casings time to dry out, and the flavours time to steep and develop to their full potential.

How to Store Our Casings?

Our sausage casings are dry salted for preservation. They will last for at least 12 months as long as you follow the three golden rules:

1) Keep Salted. If you have left over casings and have washed the salt off then remove any excess water by running your fingers down the casing (if off the tube) or squeezing the casing on the tube (if still on the tube). You then need to generously re-coat the casing in finely ground salt eg normal table salt (no fancy rock salt or flaked salt thank you). The easiest way to do this is to put your casing in a bowl and sprinkle a generous amount of salt over it, then roll the casing around in the salt. The salt will stick to the residual moisture on the casing. You want the casing to be completely covered in salt. More salt is better than not enough so if in doubt add more, too much salt will not harm the product.
2) Keep Air Tight. Wrap in clingfilm/gladwrap and put back into the pouch packaging or into a container.
3) Keep Cool. Store your sausage casings in a cool, temperature-controlled environment of between 5°C and 10°C – ideally in the fridge. Store casings away from direct sunlight and heat at all times. We do not recommend freezing your casings.

How does sausage casing sizing work?

Casings are generally sold based on their diameter (often referred to as ‘calibre’). Natural sheep casings generally range from 20-30mm, sold as either 20/22 (as in 20-22mm), 22/24, 24/26 or 26/28. Hog casings generally fall between 30-45mm (32/35, 35/38 or 38/42). The sausage casings in our online products are 24-26mm (or 24/26). This means they range from 24mm diameter to 26mm diameter, and that your sausage will therefore end up between 24-26mm. This is about the same size as a NZ $2 coin. Certain sausages have traditionally used certain sized casings but at The New Zealand Casings Co we are not size-ist. Our motto is that it’s not the size of your sausage that counts. What’s important is the quality of the finished product.

Traditional sausages made with natural New Zealand casings.

Storage

Store your sausage casings in a cool, temperature-controlled environment of between 5°C and 10°C – ideally in the fridge. Store casings away from direct sunlight and heat at all times.

Preparation

Before stuffing your sausages, it is essential to rinse all salt off the casings by soaking them thoroughly in fresh water. The ideal bathing temperature is between 20°C and 30°C. Avoid water any hotter than 30°C as it may promote bacterial growth and damage the strength and integrity of the casings.

Soaking Guidelines

Sheep casings need to be soaked for at least 45 minutes.
Hog casings need to be soaked for at least two hours, or better still overnight.

Stuffing Tip

It's better to very slightly over-stuff than under-stuff your sausages, since fat and moisture will escape during cooking, making the meat shrink. Just be careful that it’s not too much or the skin will snap open when you cook it.

Recipes.