Sausage-Making 101: Common Issues

Sausage, Sausage Making Class

Here are the top issues that our sausage-making enthusiasts report and Aaron’s best recommendation for preventing these common mistakes.

Crumbly Sausage

Cause – Proper protein extraction has not been achieved, or has been broken down. The most important step in sausage making is this, so we must check the below contributors to see if 1, or possibly a few points apply.
  • Not enough mixing – Mixing sausage cannot be timed or calculated, as many variables relate to protein extraction. Ensure that the meat block has been sufficiently mixed to achieve “protein extraction”. Always follow the “Stickiness” test, as this will rule out any concerns before stuffing.
  • Too much water/liquid – At a certain point there will not be enough proteins within a meat block to hold all the liquid, resulting in moisture that is left able to break down whatever bind was created.
  • Too much fat – Same as water, fat must be encapsulated for a proper sausage consistency. Having too much fat in your meat block will be too much for the proteins, and allow the fat once cooked to break down what bind was created.
  • Acidic presence in ingredients – Acidic ingredients such as vinegar, orange juice, as well as pickled products like pickled jalapenos, will break down the proteins, rendering them incapable of encapsulating fat and water.
  • No Salt – Salt is a necessary ingredient when making sausage. The proteins we are trying to extract are salt soluble, therefore the proper noncrumbly sausage texture cannot be achieved without the presence of salt.

Chewy Sausage Casing

May occur with natural and collagen casings.
  • Collagen Casings – Have very specific instructions on what type of sausage they may be used for (Fresh/Smoked). It is very important that you follow the directions on the label, as this is the number one cause for people referring to collagen casings as “tough”. Collagen casings designated for “Smoking”, or “Processing”, will be tough if baked, fried, or grilled, and are only to be used in a smokehouse cooking setting.
  • Natural Casings – commonly comes down to not being properly prepared. When getting ready to make sausage using natural casings, it is important that they are fully soaked before stuffing. An area that is often overlooked is the preparation of natural casings. Soak in lukewarm water for roughly 1 hour prior to stuffing for best results (the longer the better). Nearly all of the salt will be leached out in this method, allowing the casing to not only be easier to work with, but to also soften when cooked.

Fat Pockets Developing When Cooked

This phenomenon occurs when you have a protein extraction issue. Protein extraction issues are caused by either not properly mixing, or too much fat in the meat block.
Fat Pockets may also occur if a meat block gets too warm while processing. This increase in temperature changes the consistency of the fat, allowing it to separate from its encapsulating proteins.

Split Sausage During Cooking

There are only 2 possible reasons a sausage would split when cooked:
  • Casing is overstuffed
  • Sausage is overcooked (more likely)

As always, we are here to help! Please call one of our locations and a friendly, knowledgeable staff member will be happy to assist you with your sausage-making needs.

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