Sausage is just meat that has been ground, seasoned and reformed into a specific shape. It can be made fresh, cured and smoked.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there was an increased demand supply delay due to the growing meat industry. That’s when artificial casings were developed. Artificial casings were introduced as an alternative to natural casings because there was a shortage of natural casings in some countries due to unstableness of price and difficulties of obtaining natural casings.
The growth of artificial casings in the market is directed by the factors such as increased global population and excessive use and production of meat, which led sausage manufacturers to focus on increasing production and cost reductions. The rising number of food restaurant chains is also the main reason that artificial casings were introduced into the market.
The casing manufacturers shifted from natural casings to artificial casings due to operational challenges and because they cost less than natural casings.
Know more about artificial sausage casing
Artificial sausage casing was made from materials like collagen, cellulose, and plastic, and such materials may not always be edible. The oldest artificial casing is collagen. It is produced from animal collagen, mainly from cows and pig’s hides, and these casings can also be made from poultry and fish, which is very expensive. If you compare the natural sausage casing and the collagen casing, the collagen casing is very easy to use, and it provides better weight and size control of the sausage.
Cellulose casing is made up of viscose. It is a material that is obtained from wood pulp or cotton. These are firmly strong and abrupt casings. The best thing is that they are penetrable to smoke. Once cooking is complete, you can peel it off. But this type of casing is not edible. As they are impermeable, so used widely for non-smoked and high yielding products.
Some artificial casings need to be penetrated with the tip of a knife before stuffing to remove air completely, and it requires soaking in hot water before use. Most manufacturers turn towards synthetic casings because of their strength and uniformity.
Types of sausage casing
As I have told you earlier, there are two main groups of sausage casing, natural and artificial, but there are other types of casings that include in these two groups. We will categorize each type to cover the most amount of information. Here are some of our own categories to go through:
Fibrous (cellulose) casings
Fibrous casings are common as collagen casings because they are easy to work with and also edible. Fibrous casings are also called cellulose casings because, majorly, this is what they are made of. They can easily peel off from the sausage and are mainly used for sausages and all pepperonis, smoked sausages and others.
Out of most casings, these fibrous ones are the most durable and allow tighter stuffing for fine sausage meat. Before using them, you will need to soak them for half an hour in warm water.
When cows and pigs are slaughtered, their few body parts aren’t used in any type of meat, so these are mixed together and used for some other purposes. All these body parts like bones, tendons and hides are rich in collagen, and due to this reason, manufacturers use collagen from these parts for sausage casing.
This process is quite cheap and easy, and you can turn the casing uniform, consistent and tough. The best thing is that these casings do not require to be soaked in water and are easy to work with. Based on their processing, they can be used either as smoked or fresh, but fresh ones are used widely in breakfast, while smoke casings are super ideal for snacks and wieners.
The only type of casing that is not edible is plastic casing because they are made up of plastic that is not digested by the human body. This kind of casing is not used for smoke sausages due to water, and smoke content will not pass through the plastic cover.
But they are quite useful in controlling moisture superbly, but they may often stick to the meat and result in yield loss. The best thing is that these come in any shape and can have any color. They are usually made up of Nylon, such as polyamide and other plastic materials like polypropylene and polyethylene.
Vegetarian casings are not made up of meat products, but these are plant-based and made purely for kosher and Halal food, so if you are a vegetarian and do not want to eat meat-based sausage, then this type of sausage is purely for you.
Tip to differentiate natural vs artificial casing
In the end, I have a tip to differentiate between natural and artificial casing is that a natural casing is irregular but if you see a smooth, uniform, and flat casing, it is an artificial casing. It can be made up of collagen or cellulose, and the plastic-based sausage casings are even easier to distinguish because of their color and smooth surface.