Sausage has to be stuffed into something and that something is most often the intestine of a hog, cow, or sheep. Before you gasp, rest assured that these casings are kept scruplously clean and are packed in salt which keeps them fresh indefinitely. Natural casings come in an array of sizes, ranging from under one inch to a lillt over four inches in diameter. The smallest are usually sheep casings, ½" to 1 1/16" and the largest are from beef, 2½" to 4'. think of sheep casings as being the size of most hot dogs, and beef casings the size of a large salami. The hog casings are the most common since many sausages are made in the two inch diameter range. Their sizes range from small (1½ inch), medium (2 inch), and large (2½ inches). all should be kept refrigerated or frozen until ready to use. You should be familiar with two other types of casing; collagen and muslin. Collagen casings are made of natural, pure, edible protein. They generally cost a little more than intestines, are sometimes a little harder to find, but are convienent to use and usually can be substituted freely for recipes calling for natural casings. Muslin casings can be purchased or homemade and are sometimes used with summer sausage and salami. One needn't be a Betsy Ross to stitch up a muslin casing. Just follow the instructions given in Chapter 4.
Muslin Casing: You will need a piece of unbleached muslin about 12" long and 8" wide. Fold the muslin lengthwise and tightly stitch a seam across one of the short ends and continue along the open side. Keep the stitching about an eight of an inch from the edge of the material. The short side of the seam can be curved in a semi-circle to give the finished product a rounded end. Turn the casing inside out so that the stitching is on the inside. Set it aside until you are ready to stuff it.
Casing Preparation: Snip off about four feet of casing. (Better too much than too little because any extra can be repacked in salt and used later.) Rinse the casing under cool running water to remove any salt clinging to it. Place it in a bowl of cool water and let it soak for about a half an hour. While waiting for the casing to soak, you can begin preparing the meat. After soaking, rinse the casing under cool running water. Slip one end of the casing over the faucet nozzle. Hold the casing firmly on the nozzle, and turn the cold water on, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This procedure will flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any breaks. Should you find a break, simply snip out a small section of the casing. Place the casig in a bowl of water and add a splash of white vinegar. A tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water is sufficient. The vinegar softens the casing a bit more and makes it more transparent, which in turn makes your sausage more pleasing to the eye. Leave the casing in the water/vinegar solution until you are ready to use it. Rinse it well and drain before stuffing.
Your Sausage: Casing Information & Preparation is ready. Bon appetit!
Related recipes: Makemeat
Season specials: Easter Recipes, Passover Recipes, Christmas Recipes, Season Recipes, Xmas Recipes