Bratwurst, Kielbasa, the Vienna sausage, bangers, Frankfurters; no matter what you call them, you’ll probably recognize this cylindrical meat product in just about any culture. There are hundreds of words for sausages that come from countries around the world, and thousands of ways to cook them! But one thing that these meats have in common is that they are made with sausage casings. If you’re a connoisseur of fine sausages, you may already know that there are two main categories: natural and artificial. But how do you know what casings are best for any given situation? If you plan on making your own tasty sausages, you’ll want to start by learning the difference between natural and artificial casings.
Sausages, a mixture of ground meat, fat, seasoning, and sometimes fillers, are traditionally made with natural casings. Natural sausage casings often come from the small intestine of Hog, beef and sheep. Natural casings are made from sections of an animal’s digestive tract, including the small and large intestines and the stomach. Casings may also be made from the bladder, caecum, or esophagus of an animal. Natural casings often lack the uniformity found in artificial products such as cellulose and/or collagen. To their advantage, these casings ‘breathe’ and are permeable to smoke, and so are a better option for many homesteaders and cooks because when cooked they are more tender and flavorful. The richness of flavor and natural look of these casings makes up much of their appeal.
The most common natural sausage casings are made from hog, sheep, or beef intestines and can be used for a wide variety of traditional sausage types, such as pepperoni, bratwurst, and frankfurters.
Artificial casings by contrast are generally inedible with the exception of collagen which is edible. Casings such as cellulose are permeable to smoke but must be peeled after cooking. Artificial casings are more prominent in low cost commercial use because they allow for greater weight and size control, while allowing faster running speed on manufacturing equipment. You might not even notice the widespread commercial use of synthetic sausage casings because most companies cook their sausages and remove the casings prior to packaging.
While a number of synthetic casings are made from animal collagen (which includes the hides of cows and hogs, and sometimes bones and tendons), they can also be made from plastic. Plastic casings are the strongest, but are usually not as permeable as other types of casings. These are the cheapest sausage casings, as well as the strongest, even amongst other synthetic casings.
Reconstituted collagen casings are almost a hybrid of natural and synthetic casings. These sausage casings are edible, and are made from collagen derived from the corium layer of beef hides. These cases are also breathable and great for smoking, but are fragile and contract on the sausage when cooked. While they do not hold up well to mishandling and manipulation, they include many of the benefits of both natural and artificial casings. These casings are generally used for dried sausages, such as snack sticks you might find at the gas station or grocery store.
Whether you’re a commercial industry or a local sausage maker, you need to get your sausage casings from a well known, quality supplier. In the industry, DCW Casing LLC is one of the best known and best reviewed sources for both natural and artificial sausage casings. Check out our full line of casing options at http://dcwcasing.com/.
700 S Fulton Ave,
Mt Vernon, NY 10550
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