Nightmare with Sheep Casings

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by navier, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. I originally posted this a couple weeks ago and couldn't figure out why I was receiving no replies. Wasn't until today that I realized I posted it in genereal discussions instead of sausage forum.

    Finally got a little time to spare so I thought I would try some sausages and pepperettes (slim jims)

    All I had was hog casings and 19-21 collagen so I took a trip into the city to buy some sheep casings. Man they are expensive here. (canada) 18.99 for a bag of lems that does 15 lbs.

    Got my meat all ground half pork half beef and picked up a lem original cause it was there. Had my casings soaking for an hour. Now this is where I ran into problems.

    How the heck do you get those things open to rinse them out. They are the size of spaghetti. Spent well over an hour trying to rinse half a bag. Now time to stuff.

    I have a Kitchener 5lb stuffer, same as lem with plastic gears. Thought I had a tough time getting them open at the sink. This took me half an hour to open the first one at the stuffer.

    Then to top things off once I did find the opening I couldn't get it on the tube. I used water, I used oil and still couldn't get it. Half hour in I finally get it started and it rips, so I cut it off and back to square one. Finally manage to get one on, or so I think. Start stuffing and it starts coming out fine, for about 3 inches, blowout another 3 blowout. Well that was enough for this day of using sheep casings. Ripped that one off and went with the 21 collagen. Going to be thick slim jims, more pepperoni size. Now its getting late and I still have 10 more lbs of pork ground up. Guess what I am doing tomorrow. Doing damn brats or polish and staying away from sheep casings.

    Any advice on what I did wrong or an easy way to open.

    I am under the impression that the tube that comes with this stuffer is just too big for sheep and slim jim casings. Will have to pay through the nose to get a 3/8 shipped up from Lems, unless I find someone else to mail it snail mail from the states.

    On a good note I started smoking my bacon last night at about 1am. Used pops brine this time, last was a dry cure. Smoked for a good 6 hours from both ends of the amps. Also using Bears method of 120 heat and bumping to 130 the last couple hours. Bacon has a gorgeous colour and the smell is amazing. Good thing about Canada I get to use my shed for a fridge in the winter. Theres where the bacon is at right now. Sitting for a day and will slice tomorrow. Will try to get picks prior and after. Made one big mistake on this batch. I didn't taste test until after the smoke and of course this one would turn out to be salty only because I missed the earlier step of tasting prior.

    If they say you learn from your mistakes I'm going to be one smart Canadian

    In closing shoot me some opinions and advice and if anyone has a good polish recipe that I can smoke send that way, My intention is to try to end with a hillshire/johnsenville type smoked sausage with cheddar only better. I raided the bulk store and got almost every spice that I saw mentioned in threads. Wife got me a big toolbox and a whole whack of little jar type canisters to store the spices. She also snagged me a pack of assorted cleaning brushes. Does that ever make cleaning meat grinder plates easier.



    On an update I think the snacksticks came out very well, polish cheddar were delecious with the garlic. sorry I didn't get pics, severely underestimated time involved but more severe underestimated how big the MES 30 is. Ended up having to do 3 smokes as it looks like a good size until you try to do sausage.

    My wife and daughter found the snack sticks too spicy so I have another post here looking for non spicy recipes.

    thanks again

    Brian aka navier
  2. bkleinsmid

    bkleinsmid Smoking Fanatic

    Oh........we could sit around a table tilting a few and tell stories about sheep casings.

    IMHO........I have found that sheep and hog casings in "home packs" are less than fun to work with. The full hanks seem to be much better.

    As for snack sticks, I started using 16 mm to 19 mm collagen casings and have been very happy with them.

  3. for sheep casings that small, i wouldn't use a stuffer tube bigger the 3/8s. the casing blow outs, well, that is partially a sheep thing, and not many good words to share about lem casings either. keeping them sopping wet helps, i squeeze the meat through the stuffer tube until just a little bit begins to come out the end of the tube, makes sliding on the tube a lot easier. once you get them slid on the tube, i recently seen reference (((((((i have never used this trick YET)))))))) to putting some water into the end of the casing before you tie the knot, it will assist in bringing the casing off the stuffer  tube as you crank and guide the casing.

    soaking them several  hours changing the water frequently (for me every hour or so) also makes them easier to work with. 

    now opening the sheep ends to rinse out or begin on the stuffer, have a few cold ones on hand, because  that step can be time consuming and is enough to make the pope himself errr, ummm a bit *unholy*...... once you get it open, to rince, i keep a small funnel handy, slip it onto the bottom of the funnel, hold casing on and run water right through funnel into casing and out the other end.

    this how i've been doinng it for the longest time. next round i do sausages, im going to use the water in casing trick to assist in bringing the casing off the tube as you stuff it.

    on the stuffer tube, i  dont keer a bit to forward it on to you through snail mail. can send as gift, or however you prefer. just let me know if you want me to.

    i'm sure some of sausage kings around here can give you better advice than me.


    a.K.a. junkcollector
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  4. glad to know it just wasn't my idiocy that was to blame. Ordering a 3/8 after xmas but not sure if I will try sheep again. will probably just get small collagen and tie off the links. like the funnel tip, still have to get the damn thing open first,,,lol
  5. stayhot

    stayhot Smoking Fanatic

    I use sheep casings for all my snack sticks and they really do make all the difference. What you need to do is find a place that sells them pre-flushed and or tubed and your job will be much easier. Like someone said earlier the sheep you buy that are dry packed in salt do not yield favorable results EVER. Try a local butcher that makes sticks, breakfast links etc and ask if they'll sell you some sheep casings, that's what I did and I always know that he has plenty in stock. Good Luck!! 
  6. I can honestly say I have never heard of pretubed casings. I did a search and was amazed at the ease of it.

    Here is a link to show how easy.

    thanks for the tip. now I just have to find a supplier in Canada or someone in the states and have it shipped to my american pick up box.

    thank you.

    do these last as long as the salted and can the non used be saved?
  7. Yes, i could leave a post a mile long about sheep casings and how I hate them. First time I ever used them, it took me,after rinsing and soaking, one and one half hours of trying to get one open, not even trying to get it on the stuffer tube.  I gave up, rinsed some pork casings and got it done (20 Lbs) in no time flat.

    Those ones that come on tube, I am all for.
  8. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I use sheep casing all the time without any problems.

    I soak my casings in hot tap water for about 30 minutes, flush them out in the sink with the  warm water running real slow, open the end of the casing and slide it over the will rinse itself out, no need to turn inside out.Then back into hot water and stuff right away.

    If the water cools off drain it and add hot water again.

    This makes the casing quite pliable and they will stretch without blowing out as long as you don't pack it to tight.

    Trial and error and practice. You will get the hang of it.

    I also use a smaller size stuffing tube that fit the smaller sheep casing. They fit the collagen casing as well. ( I might add that I have difficulty at times using the collagen casings as I sometime try to back then to full then when they bust it runs a split a long way)

    I certainly hope this helps you.[​IMG]

    Happy Smokin Holidays to all,

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
  9. This something different I will have try.  When I do, I will get back and tell you.
  10. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I might also add that i do the same when using beef casings. The hot water seems to make the casings more pliable.

  11. I've had problems with lamb casings - so much so that I don't like to use them.  However, I found that if I get a regular wooden chopstick form any Chinese take out place, soak the small end in oil, the use that end as a "poker" to get the end opened and started, it makes it easier to open them.
  12. thanks for the tips Hoity will be sure to try it.
  13. Pallandini.

    I see your also from Ontario, you mentioned about pretubed casings. Did you find a Canadian supplier for these? I contacted Malabar and they only ship in large quantitys. Cost 110 to get sheep casings. Had all sorts of sausage seasoning but minimum order is 4kg bags. Let me know what you find up our way. Stuffers doesn't have them.

  14. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here is a helpful tread from Dave Omak and some of his home made stuffing tubes.

    I buy them from a butcher by the hank or 1/2 hank and rinse them like Hoity Toit but have never tried hot water. When trying to open the end I do it under running water and sooner or later the water will catch the opening. After that I run water through it and put it on the the 3/8 tube. I splash water on the casing and counter top so it coils easier and I can keep cranking. The fresh sheep casings from the butcher are white and puffy looking and 6-8 ft. long. The salt packed sheep casings I don't bring home any more. All short pieces and they blow out all the time.

  15. Halfords in Edmonton sells tubed sheep casings. They will mail the to you. I use them all the time.
  16. skhunter.

    thanks so much for the link. out of all my searching I have never come across this company. Just checked out their brochure. They have everything I need. even amps and tube smoke and maverick.

    will be placing an order after xmas. thankyou

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