Cured Sausage 103 - Casings For Snack Sticks
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
What Are Common Styles Of Casings?
For Snack Sticks the most common types of casings used are Smoked Collagen, known as the Processed Stix Variant. These casings are tough enough to stand up to being hung in a smokehouse without spilling the meat or breaking under their own weight, they have a mahogany color that will impart a reddish color after being cooked and they still have a tender bite.
Clear Collagen casings, also known as Processed Fine-T variant, are also sometimes used for snack sticks. These casings have an opaque appearance when they are fresh but as they are cooked they will become clear. This gives you a casing that will look similar to fresh collagen, or natural casings when finished.
A few people still use natural casings to make snack sticks, because of the small diameter desired with snack sticks sheep or lamb casings would be the only ones used.
What Are The Most Sizes Of Casings?
Snack Sticks can range from 15mm in diameter up to 21mm when using collagen and as large as 22mm if using sheep casings. In recent years home processors have been trying to make smaller and smaller snack sticks, with 16 and 17mm a desirable size. However, it is more difficult to stuff these size casings as you need to use a considerably smaller stuffing tube and therefore it will require more force to push the piston down through the cannister. The best and most common sized casing for the home user is the 19mm smoked collagen.
For sheep casings, the only ones that should be used are the smallest size of sheep casings (22-24mm) or lamb casings, which can be difficult to find.
Advantages and Disadvantages To Collagen and Natural.
Smoked Collagen Casings are the most popular casings for a snack stick for good reason. They are easy to use, simply take them out of the package and put them on to the tube. The Processed Stix (Smoked Collagen) is a strong casing so when you are stuffing them blowouts are not a major concern, stuff until the casing looks full and smooth as it comes off of the stuffing tube. Walton’s also makes many sizes of collagen casings so you do not need to purchase an entire “caddy” which would process multiple hundreds of pounds of meat. The major disadvantage to collagen, that it will not hold a twist, does not apply to snack sticks as you don’t twist snack sticks, you just cut them into the desired lengths.
The major advantage to Natural Casings is that some people prefer the “snap” of these casings. The major disadvantages are that they need to be rinsed, soaked and sometimes flushed before using them costing you valuable time. They are also more prone to blowouts than Collagen Casings are.
Collagen casings do have a correct way to be loaded onto the stuffing tube. If you look closely at the casings when they are compressed into a single solid piece you will see that they look almost like bowls stacked inside of each other. You want the casing to come off of the stuffing tube as if you were taking one bowl out from another.