Friday, February 13, 2009

Method For Rinsing Sausage Casing

It is almost impossible to fit sausage casing onto a stuffing tube unless you flush it with water first. If you don't, it will bind to the stuffing tube and gum up when you try to pump the forcemeat. The most commonly accepted way to flush casing (the membrane that lines the intestinal muscle of any one of three domesticated animals typically, pigs. sheep and cattle.) requires that you run water through it to lubricate the interior so that it slides off of the stuffing tube as you express the filling from the stuffer.

Over the years that I've been making sausage and salami, I've used several methods to flush casings. But it was only yesterday that I hit upon this method. The method, which requires that the casing be suspended in water as the flushing water pushes through, assures that the casing will not bind and explode when the inevitable kinks constrict the flow. Moreover, because the casing is suspended in water -and so less resistant to pressure from the water from the spigot- the slight pressure of the flushing water is usually sufficient to force apart any kinks in the casing.

Previously, the best method I used required that the full length of the casing be pushed up onto the spigot arm. Next the water is turned on and the casing flushed as it is pulled off of the arm. But this earlier method is pretty time consuming and there is no guarantee that the casing will not kink and tear as it is sinched up over the spigot arm.

I'm sure you don't need to use a bucket as you see me doing in the video. I used the bucket because I've got a big sink and did not think it was prudent to fill the thing when something smaller would suffice. If you are doing this in a home you can simply plug the drain in your kitchen sink and get the same result.

And by the way. You will notice in the video and in the still photos that I have water running continuously during flushing. This is not strictly necessary as you can simply pulse a quantity of water into the casing and squeeze it through. Be advised however, that this latter more parsimonious method is not as mesmerizingly funny as watching the casing grow into a great swirling diaphanous coil of guts as the water seeks its egress.


Jon in Albany said...

I couldn't get the movie to play. Said it was private.

Looks like a great idea. I was making sausage earlier in the evening and the casing snaked down the drain exactly as you described it. I'll give this a shot next time.

Bob del Grosso said...

Sorry! I forgot to make the video public. It should be okay now, please let me know if it is not.

Kevin said...

Great idea. oted for next sausage day.

Dr Zibbs said...

..and it's pretty cool looking.

Jeremy said...

Absolutely freaking genius! You deserve an award for this.

Bob del Grosso said...

If anyone is interested nominating me for an award for my method of rinsing hog gut, please contact

The Nobel Foundation
P.O. Box 5232, SE-102 45 Stockholm, Sweden

Now all I have to do is rent a tuxedo

Jim said...

Doesn't this just get whatever it is on the inside you're washing out of the casing onto the outside of the casing? I mean the water comes out from the inside of the casing and the coil is soaking it that very water??

Bob del Grosso said...

The casings are actually very clean out of the bag. The only reason to rinse the casing at all is to remove the salt that is on the outside and lubricate the inside so that it slides easily on and off the stuffing tube.

Now if the casings had come directly from a hog, that would be an entirely different story. But they don't all of the nasty stuff is removed by the processor.

Jim said...

Gotcha, Thanks. now to get that sausage attachment for the kitchenaid.

Ed Bruske said...

Great post, Bob. Very useful. I have it seared into my memory now for next sausage adventure.

dave said...

Any tips on how to easily unravel a given length of casing from what I get from Butcher-Packer? I always end up threading one end through this way and that as I hit snags - rather laborious.

Bob del Grosso said...

The hank is tied at two points: the middle and the end with the plastic ring. Untie the middle knot first and open the hank completely. You should end up with about a half dozen stands of mebrane stretched out more than 10 feet. At this point I cut the hank in half at the middle so I have two 5 plus foot bundles of gut.
I never use a whole hank at time, so at this point I fold the half with the plastic ring carefully, knot it at the middle with a piece of plastic string and put it away.

Then a get a sheet pan, separate the strands from the remaining half-hank and place them on the pan in neat piles before flushing them.

The process is slow, and you have to be patient, but it works.

dave said...

Thanks, Bob. I'll give that a go over the weekend.

I was actually planning on taking another cue from you and doing my fermentation pre-grind in the fridge. I find Bactoferm F-RM-52 to be a bit too sour when incubated at warm room temperature, so I figured I'd try some alternate fermentation methods before springing for other cultures.

Bob del Grosso said...

When you use Bactoferm do you follow the dosage directions on the package or are you using someone else's dosage recommendation? I find it works well and is not too sour when I use the manufacturer's recommended dosage.

dave said...

I don't have my notes at hand, but off the top of my head I generally use somewhere between 2 kg to 4 kg (manufacturer's rec) meat to 1 g of starter culture. My recipes have mostly been from Ruhlman and Polcyn, with adaptations pulled from Jason Molinari's and your site. Certainly the biggest adaptation has been to disregard R&P's advice regarding dosage of starter culture.