How Sausages Are Made

If you’ve ever wondered how sausages are made, you’ve come to the right place. From whether to use rusk or breadcrumbs to which stabiliser and skins to choose, you’ll find everything you need to prepare and make the perfect sausage.

Which Sausage skins do I use?

The choice ranges between collagen, which is a formeddried skin made from the hide of bovine, and the fresh casings from sheep, hog or ox. They range in size from 19mm to about 36mm. The most popular sizes are 22/23 for chipolata type sausages, and 28- 35 for the breakfast and bbq type sausage.

Fresh hog, sheep and ox casings which are made from the intestines of the animal are cleaned, bleached and preserved in salt and these must be soaked in cold water for at least two hours before use (preferably overnight). Fresh casings have a shelf life of about two months if kept in salt and kept refrigerated. The sheep casings are very delicate and require more skill. Nowadays the fresh casings come on tapes or tubes so that they are easier to thread onto the filling nozzle and avoid the arduous task of unravelling a large knotted mass.

The collagen casings do not need any preparation. They are ready to use and are not salted. They have a shelf life of about two years if kept in a cool, clean and dry environment. They do not need to be refrigerated. Once these casings have been filled, it is important that the sausages are left in the refrigerator overnight to rest. The herbs and spices marinate with the meat and the skins rehydrate. These skins look and feel just like normal skins and are often less “chewy” than fresh casings.

There are other casings on the market however these are not edible. They are used to fill and cook sausages and then need to be peeled. These are known as synthetic or artificial casings and are made from fibre or plastic.

What is a sausage stabiliser?

Sausage stabiliser is made from lactose and vegetable protein and it helps the sausage meat to have good binding qualities, preventing a “crumbly” sausage. It is not essential to use but the results are definitely more consistent and juicy.

Why do I need to use Rusk or Breadcrumbs for making sausage?

Rusk is used mainly when large amounts of sausages are being made. It is relatively cheap but has to be purchased in large quantities. The nutritional value is quite low. Breadcrumbs on the other hand are easily made from left over dried bread – white, wholewheat or rye by blitzing in a blender or grating. There are other alternatives that can be used as fillers if you do have special dietary needs and they are polenta, gluten free bread, rice, cous cous or bulgar wheat. Cream crackers make an excellent filler. The key is – the drier the filler, the better!


Why do my sausages keep bursting?

Sausages burst because they are either overfilled in the skins/casings, or they have too many air bubbles when making the sausages. When using collagen casings they must be left to rest in the fridge overnight. Too much liquid in the sausage can also cause bursting – hence the name bangers (from the war years when water was added to make them cheaper – they had a tendency to explode! BANG!!).

Cooking too quickly or putting in a very hot pan can also make the skins burst.

Can I smoke Sausage?

Yes. The sausages can be hot or cold smoked on either a barbeque with a cover, in an electric smoker or a hob top smoker. This gives them a delicious taste. Cold smoking will preserve the sausages and hot smoking cooks the sausages giving them another delicious flavour. Different flavours can be achieved by using flavoured wood pellets or chips such as Oak, Alder, Orange, Jack Daniels, Maple, Sassafrass and many more.

What is the best way to cook Sausage?

Sausages should never be pricked as this releases the juiciness of the sausage and can cause splitting. Always start to cook from a cold oven, cold pan, cold grill or a low heat barbeque so that the skins do not split. Cook at a low heat (150 deg C in the oven). The general rule is cook on a low heat for longer. Make sure that they are cooked through in the middle.

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