Sausage skins will split when they are cooked for several reasons, including too much water in the filling, the sausages being stuffed too much, and the frying pan being too hot.
Read on to find out why sausage skins will burst when cooked, the science behind it, and how to prevent it from happening.
Why Do Sausage Skins Burst When Cooking?
There are a couple of different reasons sausage skins will burst when cooking. From the water content being too high to the sausage skins being too stuffed, these reasons are easily fixed and preventable. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each reason:
1. Water Content
Water content is a massive reason for sausage skins bursting when cooked. This means that if too much water gets into the casings, the water will expand and burst when cooked.
This can happen if you buy cheaper low-quality sausage. When choosing what sausage to buy, it is best to look for quality ingredients that use high-quality fillings and skins.
On average, most sausage makers use about one cup of water per five pounds of meat. If the sausage has too much water, it can cause the skins to split due to the pressure buildup as the water turns to steam. This will lead to the steam breaking through the casing.
Adding water to sausage filling is necessary because it helps ensure that the seasoning is equally distributed. It also allows the sausage to move more quickly through the sausage stuffer contraption, which will allow for less air in the filling.
2. Too Much Filling
Although filling your sausages enough is important, filling a sausage casing too much can cause it to burst. This is because there is no room for expansion when cooking and linking the skins, as they are at the maximum capacity.
3. Too Much Air
Especially if you are filling your own sausage skins, there is a chance that more air can get into the casing than necessary. This can be a problem because as the air heats up while the sausage is being cooked, the casings can burst.
4. The heat of the pan
Placing your sausages on a very hot pan will cause the sausage skin to bust. Not only that, but it will also lead to the sausages being toasty on the outside and somewhat raw on the inside.
The Science Behind What Makes Sausages Burst
When figuring out what makes your sausage skins burst, you should make sure that you understand that the skin of a sausage is like a pressure vessel.
Sausages can split due to vapor produced due to pressure buildup or even the expansion of filling. Much like a frozen coke can, sausages can expand while being cooked, leading to them splitting down the side.
As the pressure in the sausage increases, the stress on the sausage skin builds as well. When it reaches its peak, the sausage will burst.
Now, you may notice that sausages almost always split lengthwise. Why is this?
Picture the sausage skin as a very thin-walled cylinder. The sausage walls are the thinnest part of the sausage, especially compared to the diameter of the sausage.
Assuming the pressure of the filing is equal inside of the sausage skin, This means that the stress inside of the sausage will build fast, therefore bursting the sausage skin.
Now, let’s look at some of the other terms used to understand why sausage skins burst.
1. Hoop Stress
Hoop stress is the stress that runs around the sausage. Think of this as a ring around the sausage!
2. Longitudinal Stress
Longitudinal stress is the stress that runs across the sausage.
Stress is defined as the force per area. The amount of stress can be found by dividing the forces over the cross-section of the sausage.
Why Sausages Burst Lengthwise
Sausages will burst lengthwise, in the direction of where the tension is the highest. The stress circumferentially in a sausage is usually twice as high as the stress going lengthwise.
One of the best ways to ensure that the sausage’s pressure is let out is by poking holes in the sausage. However, this causes its own issues since poking holes in the sausage skin allows for the juices to run out, which will make your sausages dry after cooking.
Pro Tip: Use Ice Water
Water is essential when it comes to making sausage. Although it helps with the mixing process of sausages and the way it moves through the stuffer, adding too much water or too hot water can be detrimental to your sausages. If you add water to your sausage, you should make sure that it is ice cold.
If you’re making sausages, it is essential that you use cold meat. Using water that is colder than the meat will warm it up. This is why cold water is the best type of water to use for your sausages.
The cold temperature will help the sausage through the stuffer and will prevent it from getting everywhere, as well.
How To Prevent Sausages from Splitting
There are a couple of different ways to fix and prevent sausages from splitting on you! On top of picking quality sausages when getting them from a store or market, there are various ways to cook sausages, such as baking or sautéing on low heat.
1. Leave Sausages in the Fridge
If you want mouth-watering sausages with well-marinated meat, you should leave your sausages in the fridge overnight. It will also allow the sausage skins to settle.
2. Bake Your Sausages
Baking your sausages can also be a great way to ensure that your sausages don’t burst. You can bake your sausages at a temperature of around 300 to 350 degrees. If the temperature is too high, it can cause your sausage skin to burst and the sausages to dry out.
3. Fill Completely
Make sure that your sausages are filled completely, but not over-filled if you are making your sausages yourself. This is because if there are too many air bubbles in your sausages, the air will expand while they cook, which will cause your sausage skin to burst.
4. Don’t Add Too Much Water
Water content is one of the most significant factors that will lead to the skins of our sausages bursting. Adding cold water to your sausage mixture is essential, but it can easily be overdone.
When you add water to your sausage, make sure that you use a pre-measured amount of water that you can add in small amounts.
You will know that the sausage mix is done when it is sticky but not wet. You will find that it should pull at your gloves. One way to test this is by creating a ball of mix in your hands and holding it upside down. The ball of meat should stick to your hand!
5. Use Lower Temperatures
If you enjoy cooking your sausage in a pan, try cooking them on a lower heat so that they cook thoroughly. This also allows time for the meat to expand at a slower rate, allowing the sausage skin to adjust properly.
If you are baking your sausage, cook it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for about twenty to thirty minutes. If you are cooking your sausage on the stove, try cooking it on medium heat- if not lower. To add a crust on the outside, try upping the temperature for a moment at the end!
6. Poking the Sausage
We don’t recommend poking holes in a sausage, since it will allow the juices to flow out. However, if you keep having issues with sausage skins bursting, this will happen either way!
If you must, you can poke small holes in your sausage skin to allow for the pressure to escape without completely bursting the sausage skin.
Try not to squeeze your sausages if you do this, as you want to preserve all the juice you can. If you cook the sausages for too long or allow too much to drain, it will cause your sausages to become dry and brittle, falling apart.
Sausages with too much air or too much water can lead to the sausage’s skin breaking. This is because of the pressure buildup within the sausage skin. You can prevent this in several ways.
The perfect sausage mixture can be hard to figure out, and there will be some trial and error to see what works for you and what does not.
The amount of water you use in your sausage mix, the amount of air that gets into them while stuffing your casings, and adding too much meat mixture into your sausages can be a significant problem for your sausages. It will lead to the sausage skins bursting when cooked.
Thankfully, there are multiple ways to make sure this doesn’t happen, from baking them, cooking them at lower temperatures, to even poking holes in the sausage if you must; trying different things will lead to finding the best way of making sausages for you.