Sausage Casings Guide

Sausage Casings Charcuterie

Sometimes, given the amount of work one has to put into making sausages, it is easier to just fry your sausages in patties. However what is easy is not always what is satisfying. Making links and salami with sausage casings gives you the opportunity to preserve and add flavor to cured meats. Finding the right sausage casing when your curing meats can be confusing with all the choices available. This guide will help you understand the options available.

What Are Sausage Casings And What Do They Do?

Sausage casings are usually soft cylindrical tubes and are usually filled with seasoned and ground meat for curing and smoking. Most meat curing recipes you will find will prompt you to use sausage casings to hold everything together and provide a barrier from bacteria.

Natural Sausage Casings

Usually we get natural casings from the intestines of goats, pigs, cattle, horses and sheep. When these intestines are used to make casings, they are processed to make them soft and easy to chew. In most cases they are eaten with the sausage. Natural casings can be made from most parts of the intestinal tract that is collected from the slaughter house. Processing casings from different parts of the tract will vary because some parts of the intestines are tougher than other parts. Some sausage casings are meant to be removed before consuming.

Because bacteria begin spoiling the intestines of animals as soon as they are dead, processing sausage casings must begin right away. After the intestines are collected, their contents are removed manually. The casings are then cleaned and flushed with water. They are then de-slimed using either electronic or manual machines. One of the biggest benefits of natural casings is the fact that they are absorbent. When they absorb smoke during the sausage making process, they increase the flavor of the cured meat.

Hog Casings

While the most important part of the pig in sausage processing is the small intestines, most parts of its intestines can be used. Sausage casings from pigs are considered edible. There are about 15 meters to 20 meters of small intestines available from one hog.

We like the natural hog casings from Dewied for multiple types of charcuterie:

Dewied Natural Sausage Casings Hog

If you’ve got a large amount of meat to process, we also like Dewied’s large pack that can fill over 100 lbs of sausage!

Dewied Sausage Casings Large

Sheep Casings

From the digestive tract of sheep and goats, only the small intestines are used as sausage casings. These casings are processed so that they are tender and easy to consume. Some people like to peel them off because they make the sausage a little bit tough. Unlike most of other natural casings, sheep casing is not turned inside out as it is being processed.

One of the most popular brands offerings we found comes in a pack that can be filled with 25 lbs of meat at 20 to 26 mm.

Sheep Casings

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HFXLD0G/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=charcuterieshop-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00HFXLD0G&linkId=18e20bcee41a423cfe7513857917e44a

One of the best reviewed sheep casings we found comes in the 22 to 24 mm range:

Sheep Sausage Casings

Beef Casings

Most of the gastro intestinal parts of the cattle can be used for the sausage production process. Their small intestines have a large round shape. They are therefore most suitable for liver and blood sausages. When the cattle is slaughtered, there are already about 40m long round small intestine parts available. The middles are about 7 meters long and are mostly used for pre-cooked and dried fermented sausages. For mortadellas, the beef bladders are used. During preparation, the rounds are usually turned inside out. Unlike the processing of hog, sheep and goat sausages, the muscular layer of the small intestines is not removed.

Beef casings can be tougher to find, but we like this version from Smokehouse Chef:

Beef Sausage Casings

Collagen Casings

Just as its name suggests, this type of sausage casing is fabricated from collagen. The collagen is gotten from the corium layer of split cattle hides. The tissue is processed under high pressure and then made into a hose shape. It is then hardened. These are also fit for human consumption, and their greatest advantage is that they are strong and do not soak in water and can therefore be filled in automatic or manual filling stations.

LEM makes great casings in many varieties, including clear, smoked, and mahogany.

LEM Collagen Casings

 

Fibrous or Synthetic Casings

These are usually made from thermoplastic materials, some of which include polythene, polyster, pollymade, polyvinylidenchloride, and polypropylene. These castings are mechanically strong, impermeable and heat resistant. They give sausages a long shelf life and prevent unwanted moisture loss. They cannot be used for sausages that need to undergo fermentation, ripening, or drying. They are not fit for human consumption.

We liked these fibrous sausage casings:

Fibrous Sausage Casings

 

We hope this gives you an understanding of all the sausage casings available to you. Any questions, let us know in the comments!

Sources:
http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai407e/AI407E20.htm
http://www.sausagemania.com/casings.html
http://www.lets-make-sausage.com/sausage-casings.html

 

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