How to Make Sausage Casing Tender

You finally decided to stuff your first sausages and then smoked or grilled them. Everything went smoothly, but when you took a bite of the sausage, it was a bit tough and slightly chewy. What went wrong?

You most likely didn’t clean or flush the casings enough. But don’t worry. Continue reading to discover how to make sausage casing tender and learn what makes casings tough in the first place.

three sausages on a plate with another sausage lying on top sliced down the middle so you can see the inside and casing lining

What Causes Tough Sausage Casings?

Sausage casings need to be handled carefully, and you need to take the right measures when working with them to make sausage.

If you have sausages casings that aren’t tender, there are a few reasons for why this could have happened.

You Haven’t Washed the Casings Properly

When you first get casings, they’re usually tough. If you’ve skipped on washing and flushing them, that could be the reason the casing was chewy after smoking or grilling.

Casings are Old

If the casings have been stored in the fridge for over six months, they’re not good for stuffing. It’s best to throw these casings away and get new ones.

You Smoked the Sausage Straight From the Fridge

Like most other types of meat, you shouldn’t smoke sausages right after getting them out of the fridge. Let them sit on the counter and get to room temperature before smoking them. The initial temperature shouldn’t be too high (over 180°F), or else the casing will become tough right away.

roles of edible collagen casing for sausages

You Didn’t Pierce the Casing

To prevent casings from becoming chewy, make sure to pierce them before smoking the sausage. Doing so will make the casing much more tender. The reason why the casing stays more tender after having been pricked is because it allows a little bit of the air and fat to get out.

If you don’t pierce the casing, fat heats up and air pressure builds inside of the casing while smoking, which can cause the casing to crack and lose even more fat and moisture than it otherwise would have.

The less fat and moisture there is, the tougher that casing ends up being. Piercing  may also loosen some of the fibers in the casing, also resulting in more tenderness.

You Cooled the Sausage With Cold Water

Many sausage lovers like to soak sausages in water after smoking them. While that can make the casing tender, it’s important to use lukewarm water. Cold water might toughen the casing.

How to Make Sausage Casing Tender

The key to making a sausage casing tender is washing and flushing it. Once you determine how much you’ll use, rinse the casings with water. Doing so will remove excess salt. Then, let the water flush through the casing to clean it thoroughly. Make sure to wash the outside as well.

After that, you should put casings in fresh water with a tablespoon of vinegar and let them soak. While vinegar might sound strange, it’ll tenderize the casings and make them more transparent.

Wait from 30 minutes to an hour before flushing and soaking the casings one more time.

roll of edible hog sausage casing

How Long Can You Soak Sausage Casings?

Generally speaking, the manufacturer from whom you purchase the casing should include information regarding soaking on the label. Some recommend doing so for thirty minutes; others suggest a few hours.

Even if the casings soak for a few hours, they won’t become too chewy or be more prone to cracking.

How to Make Sausage Casing Tender When Cooking

If you prefer cooking to smoking sausages, you might still get chewy casings. To prevent this, don’t put sausages in boiling water. Put them in a pan of cold water, and bring it up to simmer. If you need to increase the temperature, do it gradually.

In Summary

Learn what can make sausage casings tough and chewy and how you can prevent this from happening are key steps when it comes to sausage making.

After all, no one wants to bite into a sausage expecting juiciness and texture, only to find their teeth unpleasantly grinding through the casing. Follow my tips here for your next batch of sausages, and you’ll get professional, butcher-level results!