Water pan question when smoking sausages

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by johnnyb54, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. johnnyb54

    johnnyb54 Smoke Blower

    Whenever I smoke sausage or make snacksticks in my MES my casings get very tough. I don't think the issue is the casings because when I hot smoke or grill the sausages on my Big Green Egg they are very tender. My casings are cleaned and flushed at least 3 times. They then are soaked in cool water with a bit of vinegar to clear them up. I'm thinking that when I smoke sausage in my MES I'm drying out my casings to much. I usually start the smoking process by starting out with a 120 deg. temp for 1 hr. without smoke to dry the sausage. I then apply smoke and gradually bump the temp up until I get to the internal temp I want. The question is should I be using a water pan to add moisture to the smoking process. If I am supposed to use a water pan do I place it into the MES after the initial 120 deg. drying time or use it right from the start? Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    How long are you soaking you casings prior to smoking? Hog casings? Sheep?

    I run all my smokers dry without a water pan when smoking sausage. Yes the casings are dryer than if you are cooking a fresh sausage. The higher temps you are using for a hot smoke renders out fat from the meat that absorbs into the casing during the cook. Which gives the casing a different texture.
  3. johnnyb54

    johnnyb54 Smoke Blower

    I soak my casings 2-3 hours prior to stuffing. After stuffing they rest covered in the refrigerator overnight prior to smoking. The casings are not packaged in salt but are in a brine as I buy my casing by the hank. For hotlinks or kielbasa I use 32-34mm hog casing and for snack sticks I use 19-21mm sheep casings. The casings are not necessarily dry buy tough. Tough to the point that the casing needs to be peeled off. The sausage meat is moist and smokey, it's just that the casings get so damm tough.
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

  5. johnnyb54

    johnnyb54 Smoke Blower

    SmokinAl, that's what I do for the casings. For any application other then smoking the casings are tender, supple and easy to use. This applies for casings I have purchased in a brine as well as casings packed in salt. If I smoke sausages in my Big Green Egg (175-190) the casings are tender but because of the high heat the fat collates on the outside. Again when smoking at low temps in my MES they get tough and I'm thinking the dry heat from the electric heat is causing the casings to become dry and brittle.
  6. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Try two different batches,,, one with water pan and one without and see what you come up with?? Sorry I can't help more than that,  I my self do not use water pan but I usually always do collegen casings for my snack sticks. 

    Good luck and let us know, I what to buy some sheep casings but $$$

    A full smoker is a happy smoker 

  7. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It is unlikely that you will notice much difference with or without the water pan. I have tried it both ways and whenever I slow smoke the sausages the casings are usually harder than when they are smoked at higher temperatures. The harder casings are not unpleasant but I have always found the texture of cooler smoked casings to be different to that of hotter smoked casings.
  8. Have you noticed a difference in taste and texture between smoking in the MES and green egg - other than the casing?

    Like dirtsailor mentioned - the temp and the fat content would be a big factor.

    I made a ton of venison sausage year 1 - and everything was great. Year 2 - same process (or so I thought) but the casings were all cracked and dry and crumbling - figured I had a bad batch of casings.  Year 2 part 2 - the casings were fine but I think the heat was too hot at a few points and the fat quickly rendered out - and the interior was like sawdust/particle board.

    I would do a test - egg and MES with and without waterpan.
  9. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I always soak my casing in very warm to hot water keeping the casings warm and wet while stuffing allows them to stretch more and tend to give a better snap after the sausage is smoked, cooked, or dried.

    my 2 cents

  10. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    casing have got a little pricey here as well.

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