What are the types of sausage casings?

Jul 24, 2015

Meat processors use casings to give sausages their shape. Most sausages are cylindrical, but can come in other forms. 

What are the types of sausage casings? There are three main types of casings: natural, artificial, and reconstituted collagen.

  • Natural
    • Use - Fresh Sausages, Dried Fermented Sausages (pepperoni, Italian sausages, bratwurst), Frankfurters, breakfast links, wieners, snack sticks
    • Features- 
      • Made from sections of an animal’s digestive system including the small intestine, large intestine or stomach
      • Can also be made from the bladder, caecum, or esophagus
      • Edible
      • Conform to sausage
      • Have a tender bite
      • Permeable to smoke
      • Most expensive
      • Least resistant to breakage
      • Yield the least amount of product
      • Least uniformity
    • Example - Hog Casing

  • Artificial (Cellulose)
    • Use - Frankfurter-type Sausages
    • Features -
      • Made from cellulose or other synthetic materials
      • Inedible
      • Casings are removed before packaging and retail
      • Permeable to gases and smoke
      • Easy to handle
      • Uniform in size and shape
      • Resistant to breakage
    • Example - Fibrous Lunch Meat Casing     
  • Artificial (Collagen)
    • Use -  Dry Sausages
    • Features -
      • Made from collagen derived from the corium layer of beef hides
      • Use - Dry Sausages
      • Edible
      • Permeable to smoke
      • Shrinks with the product
      • Comes in a variety of sizes and forms
      • Fragile
      • Poor abuse resistance
      • Has the beneficial features of both natural and artificial casings
  • Example - Collagen Casing


Source: Hedrick, Judge, Aberle, et al. (2001). Principles of Meat Science. (4th ed., pp145-148). Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt.

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