An Introduction to Sausage Casings
It’s impossible to make homemade wieners without sausage casings. Those components serve to surround the sausage meat and maintain the sausage’s form. Sometimes, like with smoked hot dog casings, they even give taste to the sausage itself. Making sausage for the first time can be a little intimidating. Countless alternatives exist. It it be the method of preparation, the ingredients, or the seemingly endless selection of casings. Don’t worry; we’ve collected everything you need to know to get going without making the same blunders we did.
Sub-mucosa, or the animal’s intestines after they have been removed, is sometimes used to casing homemade sausages. I understand if that doesn’t pique your interest at all. However, bear in mind that this is a very natural and ancient manner of sausage casing. Because the intestines are scraped both internally and externally, natural casings have an irregular shape. If they become wet, they become porous and brittle. They fortify considerably after drying. For this reason, most casings you find in stores have been dried before they were put on the shelf.
The most common choice in Europe’s most renowned sausage-making countries, like Italy and Germany, is pig casing. In various regions of the world, sheep, goat, cattle, and even horse intestines are used. These casings are likewise sourced from natural sources, but they go through extensive processing before being used. Casings of varying sizes are made by processing and extruding animal collagen. The types of collagen casings available are extensive, and they include the fresh, processed, rounds, and middles.
Cellulose is a strong, transparent casing material extracted from plant cell walls. Those who follow a vegan diet will appreciate these casings. Skinless sausages are also made using them by commercial manufacturers. See my vegan sausage guide if you’re interested in making your own sausage but don’t eat meat. You can safely consume any type of sausage casing. I can’t say for sure if they’re all tasty. Casings made of cellulose and some natural casings are safe for human consumption. If you’ve ever purchased sausages from the grocery, the casing was likely something you munched on.
However, not all casings are meant to be consumed because they are either overly thick or taste bad. Collagen casings are manufactured for larger sausages and salamis. They are constantly being removed. All you’ll find inside a skinless frank is a cellulose casing, which you’ll discard once the franks are cooked. In other cases, taking off the shell might be a real pain. When you skin a lot of them, the skin sticks to the flesh, breaks apart, and gives you a headache. Sausage skinning is easiest if done with the meat still frozen.
Some sausage manufacturing novices, I’ve found, find it difficult to figure out which casing to be using and how it should be used. What I would suggest is to dive in and try things out. The art and technique of sausage manufacturing is best learned through trial and error rather than through a book.