Collagen Casings vs Natural Hog Casings

Collagen Casings vs Natural Hog Casings

 

Which should you choose for Fresh Sausage?

When making any fresh sausage such as a bratwurst, Italian, or breakfast sausage one of the first decisions you will have to make is what type of casings you want to go for. This blog post will go over the advantages, and disadvantages of each option to help you make the right decision for you.

Which should you choose for Fresh Sausage?

When making any fresh sausage such as a bratwurst, Italian, or breakfast sausage one of the first decisions you will have to make is what type of casings you want to go for. This blog post will go over the advantages, and disadvantages of each option to help you make the right decision for you.

Which should you choose when making a Fresh Sausage?

When making any fresh sausage such as a bratwurst, Italian, or breakfast sausage one of the first decisions you will have to make is what type of casings you want to go for. This blog post will go over the advantages, and disadvantages of each option to help you make the right decision for you.

Collagen Casings

Made from restructured beef hide, collagen casings come in three types: clear, fresh, and smoke. These are made from processed beef-hide where the collagen in the hide is broken down, separated and used to create the casing. For making a fresh sausage you will want to choose the fresh collagen, it starts as semi-translucent but will become transparent as it is cooked and are more tender than smoke and clear casings. Clear and smoke collagen casings are strong enough to use to hang in a smoker, but they have a tougher bite and aren't ideal for fresh sausage. 30mm Fresh Collagen are available in packs with two 50’ strands that hold about 40 lbs. of meat. Full caddies are also available and include 30 50’ strands that will hold about 530 lbs. of meat.

Advantages of Fresh Collagen

  • Uniformity in diameter
  • They do not need to be rinsed or flushed
  • Some people prefer the bite, or knack of a fresh collagen vs natural hog casings
  • They are processed so they do not have a strong odor to them
  • Most sizes available in 3 packs for smaller batches
  • Easier to load onto stuffing tubes
  • Less prone to blowouts during stuffing
  • Inexpensive

Disadvantages of Fresh Collagen

  • If you twist your sausage into links, they will come undone when cut
  • If cooked incorrectly they can have a rubbery texture
  • If cooked too quickly they can burst and or split
  • If cooked in liquid they can peel form the meat

Natural Casings

Natural Casings come in 2 main categories, Hog and Sheep and are the intestines of those two animals. The casings go through extensive processing to remove the inner section of the intestine and the outer "whiskers" to make them more appealing to use in processing. Sheep casings are more commonly used for breakfast sausage and smaller diameter sausages while hog casings are used for bratwurst and other larger diameter sausages.

Advantages of Natural Casings

  • They hold their twist better than collagen or other casings, even after being cut
  • They will have the bite, or knack that many people expect from a sausage
  • They are flexible, so they are less prone to blowout/split during cooking
  • Tubed casings come on a plastic sleeve to make loading simple
  • They have a long shelf-life when left in the salt or salt solution they arrive in

Disadvantages of Natural Casings

  • Since they are natural there is greater variance in sizes, even in the same "run"
  • Other than the Tubed Variety they need to be flushed/rinsed
  • They must soak for 30-60 minutes in hot water prior to stuffing
  • As they are a natural product, they have some odor to them
  • If left on the stuffing tube too long they can dry out, making them more difficult to use
  • More prone to blowouts during stuffing

Which is right for you?

This is all going to come down to personal prefference, they both have their fans and their critics. If you prioritize ease of use then it is hard to beat the collagen casings, where if you are going for the most "classic" sausage then natural casings are the way to go.

Tips for collagen

  • Collagen has a direction, load them so the "bowls" unstack from the end of the stuffing tube
  • Do not get them wet, these are a dehydrated collagen and will rehydrate during cooking
  • Seal bag that any unused casings will be stored in
  • Keep them out of direct sunlight
  • Stuff them until you can just barely see a swirling line running down the casings

Tips for natural

  • The tubed variety are selected specifically for their quality as they are being loaded onto the plastic sleeve and cost more
  • Make sure you refill your hot water when soaking them before use
  • Only take out what you need, leave the rest in the salt or salt solution they came in
  • If you know they will not be used for a long time, they can be frozen to increased shelf life beyond 1 year
  • Keep a bowl of water next to your stuffing tube to drip water onto the casings if they dry out
  • A slightly understuffed casing can be tightened up during the linking process, so understuffed is better than overstuffed
5th Jul 2022 Jon Tremblay

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