At Okie's request I've started a new thread on this topic hoping we can put our heads together on the popular subject.
I replied to Dave in this earlier "Snack Stick" thread;
I use Cabela's 11# vertical stuffer and love it.
I have used collagen pepperette casing but prefer the finished texture of sheep casing.
The natural casing is very finicky to work with and you will waste a pile until you get the hang of it.
Were you using the collagen casing dry ? (you're not supposed to soak it).
I don't think I ever burst a collagen pepperette casing using the Cabela's stuffer.
If you make (or want to make) sausages I highly recommend Rytek Kutas' fantastic text, "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing". You can buy it from his company, (Sausage Maker), or on Amazon.
Most importantly it explains properly how to use cure, (sodium nitrite).
If you're smoking sausage you had better understand the process clearly before you make yourself pretty sick.
I have used the pepperette recipe in the book with success but recently switched to a commercial formulation from Malabar Super Spice in Burlington, Ontario.
Their 2kg pouch, (enough to do several hundred pounds), sells for around Cdn$30 and tastes as good as any commercial pepperette.
It also contains sodium erythorbate to maintain the nice red color of the finished product.
This was the original recipe I used (per 10#s meat);
2 tsp. Instacure #1
6 Tb. non-idodized salt
1 Tb hot cayenne, (I find 2gm/kg gives a nice zing)
1 tsp. ground allspice
5 tsp. ground anise seed
You can substitute the cure and salt with Mortonï¿½s Tender Quick, available in any Super Wallyworld.
Use their directions for amounts.
Your stuffing problems are likely related to your meat mixture being too stiff, (ie. not enough liquid).
It's pretty tough trying to get a stiff mixture through a small tube !
In order to avoid a stiff mixture you should only mix in the spices, (esp. the salt), just before you stuff.
Also, I add at least 10% by weight of liquid, (usually water but you can use a [cooled] broth made from scraps/bones if you have the time).
I don't smoke my sausage in my Smokette - God knows I've tried.
Sausage smoking in a Smokette is a whole other story, (I can get into it if you wish).
I now get all my sausages and salami smoked commercially.
Hope this helps....
Then in response to GeiyserQ's comment about smoking sausage in a Smokette I spewed;
Don't get me wrong, I'm not bad-mouthing the Smokette's ability to smoke "cooked" sausage.
The Smokette's shortcomings are its inability to cold smoke and its lack of draft.
Due to the costs involved, home cold smokers are unheard of - you pretty well have to build your own.
But cold smoking is needed for dry cured sausages such as pepperoni and salami.
So, I have them done commercially by a local deli that has cold smoking units the size of nuclear reactors.
The draft issue poses a problem in the Smokette.
As you know, the sausage casing must be dry, but not too dry, before smoke is applied in order to achieve even and proper smoke penetration.
You need lots of draft to achieve this.
Yes, you can prop the door open a crack but that doesn't allow even air movement.
You'll get some sausage that are crispy while others are still soggy and you haven't even added the smoke yet!
Also, when smoke is applied to sausages you require a large volume of "soft" smoke and a way to quickly get rid of the moisture that continues to be generated by the sausage - again only achieved through good draft.
If you're making small batches of cooked style sausage and are willing and patient enough to move them around as they dry you can certainly get a decent result in a Smokette.
So....Anybody else got some comments, suggestions, ideas, deep thoughts ??????
Sausage making is my favorite hobby so I would enjoy kicking it around !
I luv the sausage thing too. I dont however make the dried variety though. Just semi- dried.
I emailed Smokin the process i go through. When I get the photos, I'll email him those as well. Then maybe he'll post them here.
I like Rytek's book too. I borrow it from a coworker from time to time. I also like Eldon Cutlips book "Sausage & Jerky Handbook"
I think I probably typed the following post in the snack stick thread while you were starting this thread
Seems reasonable - Smokette good for cooked sausages, not so good for non-cooked ones. But it might be possible to build an add-on box that would stay cooler and have more of a draft.
I was thinking that too tjr. Maybe even add a small fan in that box you're thinking of.
What if you smoke them at say 150 degrees for four or less hours ...Just to get the smoke flavor, then bloom them in ice water?
Dave - what kind of sausages are you thinking of? At 150F for 4 hours, small ones will be pretty well cooked in my experience.
For small cured sausages like polish, smoked brats, or just a smoked country sausage I do the following:
After starting at 120 degrees with the door cracked for an hour or so to let the sausage dry out some, I load the wood in, shut the door, and set the stat to 170 degrees.
Depending on the thickness of sausage will depend on the time it takes. I make polish sausages about the diameter of hotdogs and it takes about 3 hrs once set at 170.
Take them to 152- 155 degrees internal. This insures they are fully cooked.
Pull from the smoker and give an ice water bath for 3- 10 minutes. You want to cool them down quick to limit shriveling.
They taste best if you refrigerate overnight, and reheat on the grill or in a skillet.
At my house we like to cut them up and bake them in a mac and cheese casserole. mmmmm good!
I left out a stage. Before cranking it up to 170, I let it smoke at 150 for an hour.
When I suggested the 150 Degree I was referring this to be a type of "Cold Smoking", meaning that the sausage would still have to be cooked.
I am referring to Italian fresh, Brats, etc.
What's the purpose of cold smoking them Dave? May as well take them to a fully cooked temp. on the smoker. Then when you reheat them you will know they have already hit that critical temp. 99% of the smoked products you buy from the store are already fully cooked.
Cold smoking sausage, unless it is a part of the curing process like mentioned above for salami and other dry sausages, is non- essential.
If you are worried about the amount of smoke you get, then you need to worry about how much wood you put in. Ground meats, be them in natural or fibrous casings take on plenty smoke plenty easily! But, I caution you. It doesnt take as much wood as you think. Go less on the 1st try and work up from there. You can always eat a not smokey enough sausage, but make one too smokey........and its down the disposal!
AND, most importantly.......if you are buying fresh Italian and fresh Polish sausages from the store, it has a 99.999% chance that it hasnt been cured. So getting it from 40 degrees to 140+ degrees in the shortest time is important.
If uncured store bought sausage is the case I would try setting the smoker at 200- 225, get the wood smoldering (2-4 oz.), and then add the sausages.
Smoke cook till they reach 155. Let rest overnight in the fridge, and reheat on the grill the next day or freeze for future use.
Just my .02
I have made this as a fresh Venison sausage..right now I have it in ths smoker, Model 008.
I have set the temp to 160 degrees and hoping to take out after four hours.
Will bloom in ice bath once I get them out.
I am using natural hog casings with a grind of 3/16 plate..
I have added sodium nitrate which is allowed by the FDA at one ounce per 100 pounds.
Just thought that the cold smoking would be all right.
Will fully smoke this batch to the internal temp of around 160 will be O.K.
Thanks for the response and I will let all know how it turns out.
Just pulled the sausage out of the smoker. Had the temp set at 170 degrees.
The fresh sausage after four hours was great.
As soon as I took it out of the smoker I Ice bathed it for 5 minutes. Casings tightened up and did not shrival.Great eating, similar to beef sticks.
Used 3 oz of Cherry for the smoke.
Hope this will help others on there smoke settings.
I guess I was use to using the olde Otters smoker.
Glad everything turned out great for you. Remember to take good notes so you can duplicate your success!
Have been making a lot of Italian and Polish sausage over the years..Have to admit that the last batch of Italian fresh sausage,(which up north call Salamini) was the best that I have ever smoked.
I just put them in the smoker st 170 degrees, 3 oz.s of Cherry and they were better than any other that I have made..thanks to the CS 008.
I have a cold smoking shelf for my smokette, so far I used it following the directions for Buckboard bacon, fish, cheese, probably some other stuff. It works great with one or two heatings of smoke. I just put in the chips, turn to 150 degrees for 20 minutes turn it off, and repeat in an hour and a half or so. I use half pan of ice which fits in almost perfectly and the oven temperature has never gotten over 90 degrees.
This however would only give you two shelves for sausage, which my guess would be about 5 pounds at the most. For (more) drying I use my meat refer to cure for 30 days or more.
Right now I only make sausage that you really can't buy in the market, or with prices $8+ per pound, dry and semi dry. I can buy good bratwurst, polish, italian etc. for under $4 (if I want a real fat fix and smoke them to eating temp (180?) right out of the Smokette.
GeiyserQ has the right approach..WHY COLD SMOKE, when you can set the temp to 160-170 and have a final product?
I did this and was more than happy with the results.
Almost most of what you buy in the store is fully cooked.
I will follow Big "G" suggestion from now on.
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