• Hi All,

    I was wondering if anyone could help me understand case hardening and the smoking process?

    I’m making snack sticks in the UK using devro casings from Waltons and i’m struggling with the casings being very tough to bite when they come out of the smoker. I’ve tried low humidity, high humidity, low temps, high temps, short cycles, long cycles, but it never changes.

    To fix it i let them bloom on a work surface then put them in the fridge for a few hours and the casings seem to soften up, then they’re fine.

    Question: Does everyone suffer this problem and if so do you solve it the same way? Does anyone have any success just taking them out of the smoker and letting them bloom at room temperature, without the need to put them in the chiller?

  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Big Green Egg Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Canning Power User

    Do you put them in a ice water bath to chill them? Have you tried finishing them in a hot water bath/sous vide then ice bath then bloom?

  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Big Green Egg Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Canning Power User

    pthomas1992 also check out the Walton’s web site they have some excellent tutorials with regards to smoking meats and explanation of case hardening. What is basically happening is the outside gets cooked and dried out and the inside can’t get the moisture out.

  • YooperDog i’ve water bathed a few batches and find it has the same effect as putting them in the chiller, if anything perhaps making them a little soggy. Never tried a sous vide as the smoker seems to be capable of managing the temperature pretty easily. Correct me if i’m wrong but people generally seem to use the sous vide if their smoker can’t quite get up to the final temperature?

    I guess what i really want to know is how the commercial producers do it? Are they putting massive batches of sticks in a water bath or a sous vide?!


  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Big Green Egg Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Canning Power User

    pthomas1992 not sure what the big commercial processor’s do. The butchers I know have some pretty technical smokers that cook, smoke, steam and cold water finish. Typically what folks are doing is cooking and smoking their snack sticks and such to within 10° of finished product and then finishing in a hot water bath/sous vide to final temp. Then chilling quickly in an ice water bath to stop the cooking and then allowing the sausage to bloom. This all helps with casings and finished meat product.

  • Team Blue Regular Contributors Green Mountain Grill Masterbuilt

    pthomas1992 You have to use ice water not just cold tap water. What I do is fill my sink with ice and then fill it up with cold water. When I pull snack sticks, summer sausage, or any other smoked sausage I then put it in the ice bath for about 15-20 minutes. Then put on cookie sheets on the counter or table for an hour or two then into the fridge overnight then package in vac bags and freeze. I use the smoke/cook schedule that Walton’s recommends and as long as I follow the directions they have come out great.

  • AdamCA yeah i used ice water! It sounds like we all have to use ice water and/or pet them in the refrigerator for some time to get the casings to soften. I just wanted to make sure this was the only way of doing it, ie that there wasn’t a way of just bringing them out of the smoker and letting them sit at room temperature for a while. Thanks for the help!

  • Yearling

    I dunno. I threw my last batch into a big plastic tote, directly from the smoker, and just let them rest in the garage at around 45deg F till the next day. Too lazy (it was late when the temp hit 160) to ice them etc. Everyone likes them.

    But did some 17mm sticks that had tough casings a couple batches ago. People were troubled a little. Not up to my usual product. I need to keep experimenting. I am certain that there are a bazillion ways to do this, but also a lot of ways to screw it up. We all need to find out process.

    I do think its not a good idea to mix sizes in the same batch. My 17mm fail (not really, were still quite edible) was part of a mixed batch. So they got over cooked while waiting for the 19mm to get to temp.

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