It is essential to rinse all visible salt off the casings. Do this by running the casing under the tap using cold water. Try to massage between the folds. Do not remove the casing from the tube provided.
Once rinsed, you must soak your casings in fresh, warm water, ideally between 20°C and 30°C degrees (68°F – 97°F degrees). FYI your body temperature is 37 degrees so your water should be cooler than your body temp. Make sure they are fully submerged and avoid water any hotter than 30°C/97°F. Soak your casings for at least 45 minutes. Alternatively, casings can be soaked overnight in cold tap water.
One of the most important things to remember when making sausages is to keep everything cold. A great tip from Matty Matheson’s is to use meat and fat that is ‘almost frozen’ – in his own words ‘if you grind meat that is warm or room temp it will turn into sludge, cold meat just grinds really nice’. This is because warmth ruins the emulsification (structure) of the meat and prevent both liquid and fat from absorbing into the meat. This leads to a dry, crumbly and less flavourful sausage. We recommend putting your meat or sausage mix and also your grinder blade and plate into the freezer for a minimum of 20 minutes before you start your grinding and sausage making. If you have a large batch of meat, keep anything you can’t fit into your grinder/sausage maker in the fridge until you need it.
If your recipe contains any spices then toast them in a skillet over medium heat until slightly golden and you can smell them. This releases the flavour from the spices.
Trim and discard any hard fat and nerves from the meat. Cut meat and fat into small cubes (about 2.5cm/1 inch).
Give it a really good mix through - this will ensure the spices/flavour is distributed evenly throughout your sausage.
Grinding your sausage meat is a key sausage making step and although it's pretty hard to completely stuff it up, your choices here will impact the texture of your final sausage. Simply put, finely ground meat = a smoother sausage with finer and softer texture and no visible 'bits' eg a saveloy or hot dog. Coarsely ground meat = coarser sausage with more visible 'bits' and a more 'crumbly' texture.
We always recommend grinding twice. This will help your sausage bind together. Grinding the first time with a coarse 10mm / 3/8" plate, then following with a 4.5mm / 3/16" plate is a good medium grind choice. Gradually feed meat into the grinder, combining it with pieces of fat to achieve an even blend of meat and fat. Make sure you chill your meat in-between grinds (put in freezer for minimum 20mins) Click here for more info.
Add any liquid or eggs to the minced mixture and thoroughly mix the meat and spices by hand (preferably) in an oversized bowl or in your electric mixer using a paddle attachment for at least 2-4 minutes. This is a really important step as it helps the sausage bind, so don't be tempted to take short cuts. Keep mixing until the sausage mix starts getting sticky. You know the mix is ready when you grab a handful and tip your hand upside down. If it sticks to the palm of your hand it is ready. If it doesn't stick, keep mixing. Click here for more info.
Assemble your sausage stuffer. Place the sausage mix into a piping bag or fill the stuffing machine sausage meat canister. Press down and compact the meat to get rid of any air pockets. Put any meat that doesn’t fit back into the fridge until you are ready for it.
Different sized casings need a different sized sausage maker nozzle (also known as funnel, stuffing tube or stuffing horn), otherwise you could get tearing in your casing. Sheep casings require a smaller nozzle than hog casings. For our casings strongly recommend the following nozzle sizes:
- Sheep 19-21mm = 10-13mm / 0.5" nozzle
- Sheep 24-26mm = 13-16mm / 0.6" nozzle
- Hog 32-35mm = 19-25mm / 1.25" nozzle
The measurements are the diameter of the stuffing horn at its tip.
Our casings have been threaded onto a pipe for easier use. Remove the casing from the water and slide the casing tube onto the piping nozzle. You can dab a bit of vegetable oil on the end of the casing and nozzle to make this easier. Slide the casing off the casing tube onto the nozzle until you come to the other end of the casing. Tie a knot in this end of the casing and slide right up against the end of the nozzle. You are ready to start filling. For more detailed instructions, follow this link.
Press the knot at the end of the sausage casing firmly against the end of the sausage nozzle. Begin piping the sausage mix into the casing, ensuring the meat is filling the casing evenly. Maintaining some pressure on the meat in the feeder will help and will prevent air bubbles in your sausages. Pinch the casing every 15cm/6 inches to make a space to later create links in the sausages. When all the meat is fed into the casing, turn off the machine and tie a secure knot at the end of the casing. The amount of fill is a balancing act you will get better at it the more times you do it. Ideally, you want to find the sweet spot where the casing is filled with meat and a little amount of air remains but not so full that it will burst when you begin twisting or the skin will snap open when you cook it. However, generally speaking, it’s better to very slightly over-stuff than under-stuff your sausages, since fat and moisture will escape during cooking, making the meat shrink.
You can watch Luke filling sausages here.
To make the links in your sausage, pinch and twist the filled sausage casing with thumb and forefinger approximately 15cm/6 inch apart, then spin the sausage between your fingers (kind of like a skipping rope). Move your way along the filled casing, making sure to spin the sausage in alternating directions for each sausage.
Once you’ve mastered all of that, you need to rest your sausages overnight in the refrigerator. This helps the sausages to bind and the flavours develop to their full potential, givng you a tastier, jucier sausage.
Remember not to cook too hot as you will split the casing and all those beautiful sausages juices will escape and make your sausage dry.