When it comes to eating sausage, most people never think about the fact that the actual sausage is most likely covered in an edible casings. Casings are necessary to hold the sausage itself together, because the fresh sausage is made from ground ingredients.
These ingredients would not be easier eaten with a spoon than on a bun without the casing to give the sausage its mold and shape.
There are many different kinds of casings for sausage, and here is an overview of the 4 best casings for sausage, which can help you in choosing a brand of sausage that you purchase from the store, or even when making your own.
1. Natural casings
Natural casings are made from the intestines of pigs, cows and sheep. While it might seem gross to many people (though some people eat only the casings), the animal’s intestines are thoroughly cleaned and then processed to be used as very reliable casings.
A natural casing will have no taste, so you don’t have to worry about it altering the taste of your sausage. Natural casings are the most commonly-used type of casing because of their various sizes for use with different types of sausage.
This type of casing is also quite popular because people are able to get the best sausage flavor using natural casings.
Sheep casings are very small in diameter, so they’re used when making breakfast sausage links, since these links are typically smaller.
Pig casings are used for a majority of sausage, because they’re the ideal size and texture.
When using natural casings, if you choose a salted kind, then it will be necessary to soak it and clean it before use, while the unsalted kind doesn’t require any type of pre-treatment.
2. Cellulose casings
Cellulose casings or fibrous casings are an alternative type of casing that is used for sausages and that have many advantages as well as disadvantages.
A cellulose casing will be made from plant materials that have undergone special treatment of caustic chemicals, and they are not edible. This means that once you make your sausage and cook it, you will need to remove the casing before eating it.
The benefits of using cellulose casings is that it’s usually cheaper and easier to use than other types of casings.
These types of casings can also be stuffed at a very rapid pace without bursting open, as they’re very sturdy and durable.
3. Collagen casings
Collagen is a protein found in the muscles and joints of animals, and this material has been used for some time now to make some pretty effective sausage casings.
One thing that you need to remember when using a collagen casing is that you should refrain from overstuffing them, as they can burst and you will have a huge mess to clean up.
Furthermore, if you’ve had the casings for a while, it’s important to rehydrate them before stuffing for maximum stretchability.
Sausages made with collagen casings are easy to cook, and like natural casings, your sausage will turn out wonderfully flavored.
Like other types of casings, collagen casings come in both edible and inedible types, so you need to read the packaging carefully before using them.
4. Plastic casings
Plastic casings can be stretched and used to make large sausages. This type of casing is frequently used in commercial manufacturing, and often isn’t used when making homemade sausage.
However, plastic casings have some advantages, with one of the main ones being that the casing is permeable, so smoke and flavors can seep into the sausage during the cooking process.
However, plastic casings are not edible, and they must be removed after cooking.
Plastic casings are extremely durable, making it easy to stuff them completely to create a fuller sausage, without the need to worry about it bursting open.
This type of casing is not only used for making sausage, but for making other meats, as well, with bologna top on the list.
FAQ about the Best Casings for Sausage
These are the answers to some commonly asked questions regarding casings for sausage, including the most and least popular types.
What type of sausage casing should I use?
You should use the type of sausage casing that you think would work best for the type of sausage you’re making. If you don’t like the idea of using anything artificial, then stick with natural.
You can easily purchase natural casings online and in local butcher shops. While most natural casings are edible, be sure that the brand that you opt for is edible, or they will have to be removed before consumption.
When deciding on the best casings to use for your sausage, be sure to take these factors into consideration: the shape of the sausage that you plan to make, the taste that you plan to achieve, and more.
Casings have a direct impact on taste, so if you don’t want your sausages to taste a certain way or have their taste compromised, then you might want to stick with natural. There are even natural smoked casings that can give your sausage an extremely delicious flavor.
What are the two main types of casings for use in sausage making?
The two main types of casings for use in sausage making are natural and synthetic. Natural, as discussed above, is made from a layer of pig, cow and sheep intestines and is often the most preferred.
Synthetic casings are made from collagen, cellulose, or even plastic. There are pros and cons to using both types of casings, so you must decide which type of casings to use based on your expected outcome. Many people like to experiment until they find their favorite kind.
What are most sausage casings made of?
Most sausage casings are made of natural materials from cows, pigs and sheep. Natural casings are the most popular because they don’t change the taste of the sausage like some synthetic casings sometimes do.
What is the difference between sausage casings?
There are many differences between sausage casings. Natural casings, which are made from the intestines of animals, can give your sausage the best flavor, and many brands are edible, so you don’t have to worry about removing the casings prior to eating them.
Cellulose casings are often inedible and must be removed before consumption. Cellulose casings have some benefits, but most sausage makers find more negative aspects of using this type of casing than positive.
Collagen and plastic casings have their own specific set of positive features, and again, many people who like making homemade sausage simply experiment with different casings in order to find the one that works best.