Check our list below for help troubleshooting problems with fresh sausage, deli and lunch meat, and processed sausage.
Shelf Life Problems
No Particle Definition/Smear
Grease inside casing
Hog casings can vary in thickness and opacity, so buy casings with more clarity. Ask your Oversea Casing account executive for alternatives.
Threads of connective tissue, or whiskers
Try Oversea Casing’s REAL™ brand hand pulled hog casings, which don’t have threads, or Oversea Casing Fresh-Link™ casings that offer whisker-free appearance but added strength and long strands of a knife cut casing.
Deli and Lunchmeat
- Don’t overstuff. Make sure stuffed circumference matches manufacturer’s recommended measurements.
- Dry casings until sweat is out, then smoked and finished in high humidity of at least 50%.
- Soak casings in 90º–100º F (32.2º-37.7º C) for 20–30 minutes and make sure water gets inside casings.
- Check stuffing horn, clipper, stuffing table or racks in the smokehouse for burrs or nicks, which can cause splitting.
- Use high-quality, fresh raw materials. High bacteria counts in meat will explode the casing during cooking.
- Do not understuff. Make sure stuffed circumference matches manufacturer’s recommended measurements.
- Shower then hold casings at room temperature 30–60 minutes before placing in cooler. Cooling too quickly will wrinkle casings.
- Adjust clipper if metal clips clip during cooking.
Not Taking Smoke
Casing separating from meat
- Soak casings in water at 90º–100º F (32.2–37.77º C) for 20–30 minutes and make sure water gets inside the casings.
- Avoid very high humidity and drying in the first cycle, which can cause early casing release and separation.
- Use a protein-coated casing to adhere casings to the meat. It is best used on summer sausage, beef logs and products not intended for peeling and slicing.
Casing won’t peel
- Smoke casings at 25–30% R.H., then finish at least at 50% humidity. If entire cook cycle is too dry, the casings may not peel.
- Shower casings after smoking.
- Use an “Easy Peel” casing coated with a release agent on the inside.
Casing won’t stuff out to an even diameter
Soak casings in water at 90º–100º F (32.2–37.77º C) for 20-30 minutes and make sure water gets inside the casings. Improperly soaked casings won’t stuff correctly.
Pear or teardrop shape
- Soak casings in water at 90º–100º F (32.2–37.77º C) for 20–30 minutes and make sure water gets inside the casings. Improperly soaked casings won’t shape out right.
- Don’t understuff. Make sure stuffed circumference matches manufacturer’s recommended measurements.
- Beware large diameter casings in very long pieces: They may contain too much weight for the casing walls to keep their shape.
Bursting in the smokehouse
- Check clipper setting to ensure metal clips aren’t too tight.
- Inspect clips, clipper or other equipment in contact with sausage for burrs or nicks.
- Use strong casings. Those that are weak and have holes can cause bursting.
- Check smoke cycle and consider adjusting.
- Consult with your Oversea Casing account executive for additional help.
- Check your meat block. The choice of meat block is important to achieve a good emulsion that will not separate or grease out.
- Use muscle meat to make an emulsion that will bind everything together to stand up under the heat of processing. Connective tissue or organ meats aren’t good for binding. They require additional protein sources such as milk powder or soy protein.
- Check your smoke cycle and temperatures, which play a key role in setting protein to hold emulsion together.
- Consult with your smokehouse supplier.
- Make sure sausage is tacky to the touch, but not too wet when it goes into the smokehouse. Water forms a barrier to smoke absorption.
- Check smoke circulation and balance in the smokehouse. Smoke flow should be even throughout.
- If using liquid smoke, check nozzles to ensure proper atomization.
- Make sure smokehouse is properly filled, not too full, and product should not be touching.
- Check mixing cycle to be sure the cure is dispersed throughout the formulation.
- Consider adjusting cook cycle for better reddening.
- Check smoke circulation and balance in smokehouse, as the uneven color could be a smoking issue.
- Use UV-filtering plastic packaging, which can help but won’t stop color loss.
- Try Oversea Casing’s Flavo-Fresh Color™ casing. It’s dyed in smoke tone colors that stop the fading and keep smoke sausage looking fresh longer. It can even help increase smokehouse productivity.
Check for hard water. Some water supplies have high lime content that leaves a powdery residue.