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Learn What Sausage Casings are Made Of

Casings aka sausage skins are the hidden super-hero of the humble sausage. That’s because without a good sausage casing, you can’t have a good sausage. Your sausage casing is what keeps all your carefully chosen ingredients, flavors and juices in and it also dictates the texture and eating experience of your final sausage.

Sausage making aficionados are obsessed with having the right sausage 'pop' or 'snap' when you bite into a sausage, which all comes down to the casing you use. So don't ruin your wieners, for super flavor and juiciness, great sizzle and a fantastic 'snap', always choose a natural casing.

Mother Nature or Science Lab?

There are two main types of edible sausage casings (sausage skins) – natural and collagen. Natural Casings, pictured here, are all edible and come from the inners of animals, usually intestines. They have been used since Ancient Roman times as a way to honor and utilize the whole animal they are sourced from.

In the 1960’s someone in a science lab worked out how to manufacture sausage casings from the hides of cattle or hogs using lots of funky chemicals and this is what we now call Collagen Casings (sometimes called 'synthetic casings'). Despite the scientists best efforts, natural sausage casings are still regarded as the best sausage casings available.

Natural is always best

The best casings you can buy are still naturally and perfectly made by Mother Nature which is why our sausage casings are processed using only water and salt. 
Natural Sausage Skins have an amazing 'semipermeable' wall which breathes, meaning none of your special sausage juices escape but all of the beautiful BBQ/cooking flavors are absorbed. Sheep Casings have the most tender and delicate wall of any natural sausage casing so are less prone to chewiness.
The end result is a sausage with great flavor, texture, juiciness and the much-prized sausage "snap" and trademark “smile” that you can only get from a natural sausage casing.

Sheep vs hog casings

Sheep and Hog Casings are the two main types of edible natural casings used for sausage making, the main difference between the two being their size (width). The width of your sausage is dictated by the width of the casing that you use. Sheep casings are not as wide as hog casings so a sausage made with a sheep casing will be slim and tender, e.g. a breakfast sausage or hot dog. A sausage made with a hog casing will be a fat and chunky, e.g. an Italian Sausage.
History and tradition usually guides which sausage skins are used for each type of sausage, and therefore the size of the sausage. However, there really is no technical reason that sausages have to be certain sizes, and therefore use certain casings, and your sausage will taste the same regardless of whether you use a sheep or hog sausage. So don't get too caught up on the size of your sausage.

Never trust a straight sausage

At The New Zealand Casings Co we always say ‘never trust a straight sausage’. That’s because if your sausage doesn’t smile, it’s made from a collagen casing. Collagen Casings were invented in a science lab using the hides of cattle or hogs and lots of chemicals have been used over the years - Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose, Acidswolle Collagen Fibrils, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Hydroxide and Mineral Oil (made from petrol) to name a few.
The result is a collagen casing with a wall like soft plastic which means they don’t breathe in any of those beautiful BBQ flavors and aroma’s and is prone to splitting, which means your beautifully chosen flavors and juices will escape, meaning a drier, less juicy and less flavorsome sausage.