Fresh Sausage 104 & 105 - Casings For Bratwurst and Italian Sausage
Fresh Sausage 104 - Casings For Bratwurst.
Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
What Is Bratwurst?
Bratwurst is a fresh sausage product that can be made out of pork, beef, wild game or really any type of meat and stuffed into a wide variety of casings. Sizes can range from 28mm to 35mm with 30 or 32mm being the most common. The two most popular casings to choose from are natural hog casings and collagen casings. The same casings that are used for Brats can be used for Italian sausages as well.
What Type Of Casing Are Used For Bratwurst?
Natural Hog Casings
Natural Hog Casings are processed and cleaned hog intestines. They are available in 30-32mm, 32-35mm and 35-38mm 100-yard “hanks” that can hold between 125 lb and 150 lb of product. The casings are kept fresh in a salt solution during storage and shipping. Before using these you must rinse and then soak them in warm water for 30 minutes. They can then be loaded onto the corresponding sized stuffing tube and be filled. 32-35mm hog casings are also available in Home Packs that are packed in salt to keep them fresh. Each home pack will process about 25 lb of meat and must be rinsed, and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes before they are ready for use but they must also be flushed first. Flushing is letting fresh water run through the casing, the easiest way to do this is to turn on a faucet at a slow trickle and then hold one end of the casing and allow the water to find its way into the opening. Trying to pull the casing open before the water opens that up is difficult. The home packs will often be in shorter strands than the casings in a hank as well. A strand of casings from a 32/35mm hog hank are generally much longer than what you will get in a homepack, so if you do go with a home pack you will be loading casings onto your stuffer more often.
The 32/35mm hog casings also come in a Tubed Package. This means there is a plastic tube running down the center of the hog casing that you slide onto your stuffing tube and then pull it out, which leaves the casing on the tube. These casings still must be rinsed and soaked in warm water before use but they do not need to be flushed. This is also available for all sizes of the sheep casings.
Natural casings, whether hog or sheep will have a slight curve to them once that have been fully stuffed. These casings will sometimes have an odor to them as well, this is generally not an indication of any spoilage, remember these are a natural product and even though they have been cleaned and processed they are still hog intestine.
Collagen casings are made from a restructured beef hide and are available in three different types, Smoke, Fresh and Clear. Fresh Collagen casings are more tender than smoked or clear which are both designed to stand up to being hung in a smokehouse. Fresh Collagen is semi-transparent and will become clear when they are cooked. In the end, they should give a similar look to a natural hog casing without a curve. The 32mm is closer to the size that you may find in many store brand sausages and bratwursts, but many people prefer the slightly smaller diameter 30mm casings when making sausage or brats as they fit into a bun a little better. We have 30mm Fresh Collagen available in packs with 2 50’ strands that will do about 40 lb of meat or full caddies which have 30 50’ strands that will hold about 530 lb of meat. These casings require no prep work, simply take them out of the package, load as much as you need onto a stuffing horn and you are ready to start stuffing.
Advantages and Disadvantages To Collagen and Natural.
The main advantage of Collagen over Natural Hog Casings is that Collagen does not require any preparation, you simply remove it from the package, load it onto your stuffing tube and begin stuffing. Collagen casings are also stronger and less prone to blowouts when stuffing than Hog Casings are. The main disadvantage to Collagen casings is that they will not hold a twist, once you cut them to separate them they will come unraveled.
Hog Casings main advantage over collagen is that it will hold a twist once cut. Its major disadvantages are that they have to be rinsed and soaked (and sometimes flushed) and they are more susceptible to blowouts during the stuffing process.
What We Prefer
Because of the ease of use and the uniformity we tend to like to use collagen casings more than natural casings, this is especially true for beginners.