Natural Casings 101 - Help & Information
Natural Sausage Casings Information & Help
What are natural sausage casings? What are natural casing made of? What kind of hog casings and sheep casings are available? Watch the video, read the highlights here, and then post your comments or questions below.
What are Natural Sausage Casings?
Natural Sausage Casings are the oldest form of sausage casings. They are actually made from animal intestines, typically from sheep or hogs. Sheep casings are usually the smaller of the two ranging from 22 millimeter to a 28 millimeter. The larger hog casings range from a 32 to a 42 millimeter. Our 32 to 35 millimeter hog casing is the most popular natural casing we offer.
Why Do Natural Casings Specify a Range In Their Size?
You might ask why is this a range? Why is this 32 to 35 and not just 32 or 35? The range happens because the casings come from an animal and cannot be perfectly sized. The casing should fall in between the range listed in the description and package, but they are not a manufactured product in a uniform size. Natural Sausage Casings are selected and grouped together to provide as much of a uniform size as possible, but slight variations in the size do occur.
How Long Is Each Strand of Natural Casings?
Since natural sausage casings are not manufactured and uniform, there is no exact answer here. “Home Packs” of casings will typically have more variance in lengths and size than other hog or sheep casings. This is done to provide a more inexpensive product. If you prefer the easiest to use and most consistent hog casings, Walton’s recommends using the 32.35mm Tubed Natural Hog Casings for most applications.
What are “Tubed” Natural Casings?
Tubed casings are the ultimate in convenience for natural casings. They do not require any sorting, flushing of salt from the inside of the casing, untangling, or individually sliding casing on a stuffing tube. Tubed casings come pre-sleeved on plastic tubes making it extremely fast and easy to use. Simply rinse under water to remove salt from the outside, and soak in warm water for 30 minutes prior to use. Then, effortlessly slide and entire length of casing onto a stuffing tube and begin stuffing. Easily the fastest and most convenient way to stuff any type of sausage or bratwurst in a natural casing, for up to 110 lb or more per package.
What Are Sheep Casings Used For?
Sheep casings are used for any type of smaller diameter sausage and often used for breakfast sausages, hot dogs, frankfurters, or even large diameter snack sticks.
What Are Hog Casings Used For?
Hog casings are larger than sheep casings so you will most likely use them for smoked sausages like kielbasa or German sausage, or if you are making a fresh sausage, you will probably make a bratwurst or Italian sausage, but any type of larger diameter sausage can be made using a natural hog casing.
What Types of Packaging Do Natural Casings Come In?
We have three different packaging types that the casings come in. We have home packs, tubed, and standard “hank” casings.
What Is The Stuffing Capacity of Natural Casings?
Home Packs of hog casings do 25 lb of meat
Home Packs of sheeps casings do 15 lb of meat
Standard sheep casings do 50-70 lb of meat
Standard hog casings do 110-160 lb of meat
Tubed hog casings do 110+ lb of meat
How Do I Use The Home Pack Natural Casings?
The home packs are the smallest quantities we offer. They typically are a more inconsistent quality and length when compared to our regular/standard “hank” of casings. The price is a lot more convenient when you are making smaller batches of meat. The prep for the home packs is more extensive which would be the downfall to home packs. Preparing home pack casings for stuffing is a three step process. Rinse, Soak, and Flush. When we rinse them we want to get all the salt we can out of and off the casings. Then we want to soak them in lukewarm water for about an hour. Finally we need to flush them either in a little bowl or in the sink just so that we can get water from one end through the entire length and out the other end to flush out any left-over salt. Then, they are ready to use and make sausage.
How Do I Use Tubed Casings?
Tubed casings come already strung on individual plastic sleeves. Since the casings are already individually separated, they are a lot easier to slide onto the stuffing tube on a stuffer. They do come at a little higher price, but I think are really worth the extra price for the convenience. They also come pre flushed, but you will still have to soak and rinse them like other casings. Again, soak them for about an 30-60 minutes in some lukewarm water before using.
How Do I Use the Standard Natural Sausage Casings?
The standard or regular “hank” of casings or sometimes just called hog gut are typical packaged in 100 yards per package. They do come preflushed but like the tubed casings, they still need to be rinsed and soaked for about 30-60 minutes in lukewarm water before using them.
What Makes Natural Casings Different Than Collagen Casings?
One example is that natural casings will give your sausage a more natural curved look. Natural casings also have a very distinct bite and feel to them as well. In addition, natural casings produce a nice, deep, smoke penetration. They are also typically easier to twist link. Natural Casings are typically used for a more traditional type of sausage, but collagen is rapidly becoming a more popular choice, and Collagen Sausage Casings are the choice recommended by Walton’s for most applications.
How Long Can I Store Natural Sausage Casings?
Storage on our natural casings sits at about a year, but since it is not a manufactured product that time may vary a little. Keep them stored at 40 degrees or lower and do not freeze the casings which could damage the casings. If you open a package and do not use it all, try to return the extra casings back into the original package and brine solution, but if you do not have either, bag the extra casings, add extra salt, and seal it. If you absolutely have to freeze the casings for longer storage, you may, but it may weaken the casing and make them more prone to breakage or “blow-outs” during stuffing.
What Is the Recommendation For Stuffing & Twist Link Natural Casings?
Make sure to not over stuff your casings, because as you twist link it, the pressure within the casing will increase. You can always throw in a few extra twists to firm up the links. Practice makes perfect and it is difficult to explain in simple words exactly how full to fill a natural casing. Simply stuff and fill casings until they are slightly tight, and use the twist linking process to twist and tighten up links. Remember, it is easier to fix an understuffed casing than fix an overstuffed casing, especially if you have a “blow-out” while stuffing.
Watch WaltonsTV: Natural Sausage Casings 101
I believe the recommended curing time is 12 hours but can I go less than that? I was expecting my order to be here tonight and it won’t be here till tomorrow morning now.
I was going to mix up my batch of jerky tonight but will have to do it tomorrow on my lunch break. Just wondering if tomorrow evening would be long enough to let the meat cure.
Your recipe calls for 1. Sure Cure, 2. Sure Gel Meat Binder, and 3. Smoked Meat Stabilizer. I have all but the Sure Gel Meat Binder. Can I get by without using this? Second question- Is Excalibur’s Cure Excellerator the same as Sure Cure?
@andyman Great question, Carrot Fiber holds up to 26 times its weight in water, and while the 80 oz is still well inside that I have never done that before. I max out (even with Carrot Fiber) at 64 oz which is 2 qts. My only fear with doing 80 is that it might take a lot longer to cook as it will have more water content that will be trying to evaporate. Most of that water should be bound up in the carrot fiber though so it wouldn’t really be available to be cooked out. Hmmm, my recommendation, to be safe is to stick with 64 oz of water.
Now, as to should you add more seasoning, some people will taste the difference if you did not add additional seasonings and some (most) will not. Your water and your seasoning is technically part of your meat block (anyone who is reading this who doesn’t consider this don’t worry!) so adjusting your meat block to include your water is sometimes done. If you do decide to add more spices or seasonings I would add aromatics and things like Rosemary and Basil, don’t add more salt as that is formulated specifically for the meat block.
Hope this helps and if you do decide to go with 80 oz of water then I would be very interested in the results!
i use denuded round. higher cost, less waste, cleaner eating
@jonathon I enjoyed this line of questions and comments, it made me think. Here is my related question: Assume I use 25 lbs. of meat to make summer sausage and add one package, 4 oz., of Carrot Fiber and 80 oz. of water. The ratio is 20 times the weight of water to the weight of CF. In other words, I am adding 5 lbs. 4 oz. of water/CF paste to my meat dough. Should I adjust the amount of salt and spices, I add to the dough? I am concerned that the flavor will be weaker if I don’t add spices for the new total, 30 lbs. curious as to what y’all thinking.