The question of how long to smoke sausage pops up often among first-time sausage smokers. Well, this is pretty much understandable for they are just learning the tricks of smoking sausage. Yet, this question has been answered a dozen times in many forums and blogs. If you collate their answers, you’ll get a bunch of conflicting answers.
The answer may not be that outright simple. This is because there are several factors to consider when smoking sausages. These factors include the type of sausage, meat mixture, and the size of the sausage you are going to smoke.
You also need to consider the smoking method you are going to use and how you intend to serve your sausage.
What Kind of Sausage to Smoke?
Subjecting the sausage to a smoking process quickly enhances its flavor. In some countries, like Germany and Poland, for example, smoked sausage account for almost 60 percent of all the ready-to-eat meat products in the market. Moreover, you’ll get more varieties of sausages in any European supermarket than in any US supermarket.
Smoking sausage, of course, has a long history in Europe. But originally, our ancestors did not care much about which sausage to smoke. Yet, now that we already have immediate access to the different varieties of sausages, we can be very selective of the sausages that we want to smoke.
Although you can smoke any sausage that you like and that there is no bad sausage on the smoker, you should always go for fresh sausage when smoking sausage. Find a small shop that makes its own sausage. Then, get some pieces of advice from the shop owner. The shop owner will surely provide you with the best advice as to which among his sausages for sale is best for smoking.
Yet, you can always go for the more popular sausage types in the market today like that of the kielbasa. If you want to go international, however, you can be a bit choosy and select mettwurst, teewurst, podhalańska or go Chinese with the Lap Cheong. But whatever sausage you would smoke, make sure that you do it correctly.
How long and what temp to smoke sausage & time?
As mentioned above, the time needed to completely smoke a sausage depends on several factors like the meat mixture, size, the smoking method you use, your intended way of serving it, and the type of sausage you would smoke. You can either hot smoke or cold smoke sausage.
If you are opting for hot smoking, then you should stuff the sausage with hot smoking flavors as a preparation. Then, you should cook the sausage using hot smoke. Hot smoking generally takes around one to three hours of smoking and it varies depending on the recipes that you are using and some other factors. The ideal temperature for hot smoking is from 105°F to 140 °F
Cold smoking sausage, on the other hand, might be more lengthy than hot smoking. This is because the temperature is lesser than that of the hot smoking process. The temperatures for cold smoking range from 52°F to 72°F. This process may also range from a day up to 14 days with breaks for drying.
Smoker’s Temperature and Internal Temperature of the Sausage
When smoking sausage, you need to be wary of two temperatures—the smoker temperature and the internal temperature of the sausage. You should keep the smoker temperature at a consistent level to keep the internal temperature consistent likewise.
If you are smoking a Polish sausage, for example, you should keep the smoker temperature within the range of at least 180°F to 200°F. After an hour, at this range, you can bring the internal temperature of the sausages to the correct level of 160°F.
The temperature is generally measured at the barrel’s top using a digital thermometer, under the rugs. You can smoke sausage at 225°F to 250°F. Given this temperature, you need to smoke the sausage for at least 3 hours.
You also need to turn the sausage every 45 minutes. There is no danger of the sausage drying out as long as it is fatty. Moreover, the best woods for this type of smoking are cherry, apple, or hickory.
Other Tips for Smoking Sausage
As mentioned above, there are different approaches to smoking sausage. Some keep the temperatures at about 175°F to maintain the minimum internal temperature for sausage at 152°F. This will keep the casing of the sausage from becoming tough.
Based on the FSIS, however, the internal temperature of heat-treated sausage should be at 144°F. If you fully cook them, the temperature should be 160°F. You should also let them chill down properly from 130°F to 80°F within 90 minutes. Then, chill them down again to 80 to 40 °F within 5 hours. You should do this after reaching the desired temperature.
If the sausages are uncooked, you should heat them until their internal temperature reaches 160°F. This is also the recommendation of the USDA.
If you are smoking previously smoked rope of homemade sausages, for example, you need to thaw them for a while if they came from the refrigerator. You can smoke them at 200°F. Within 60 to 90 minutes, the internal temperature of the sausages will reach 160°F.
There are many factors to consider when smoking sausage like the type of sausage, meat mixture, and the size of a sausage, plus your method of smoking, and how you intend to serve the sausages. Moreover, you need to keep an eye on the smoker’s temperature to achieve the desired internal temperature of the sausage. Plus, the consistency and taste that you would like to achieve also factor well.
A cursory look, however, at the answers to the question of how long to smoke a sausage suggests that there are varying ideas about smoking sausage. Yet, all zero in on the fact that the internal temperature of sausage should be maintained within the range of 105°F to 140°F if you are hot smoking and 50°F to 72°F if you are cold smoking.