1) How can I tell if a sausage is made in natural casings?
A distinctive bite or snap can be an indication when compared to artificial casings and you can tell if it appears soft and fleshy. Also, natural casings are curved with tightly closed ends (sometimes hand-tied with strings) while artificial casings tend to be wrinkled at the ends and are partially opened up like wrapped sweets. You can also look for the claim on the label.
2) Do all packaged labels clarify what the sausages are made of?
It has recently become a must to clarify this on packaged labels. It also depends on the country where the sausage is produced. For example, in Germany most producers mention “Naturdarm (natural casing)” on their labels, even though there is no obligation to do that. They could also state “Essbare Hülle (edible casing)” which in most cases means just artificial casings.
Most labels specify the ingredients contained in the sausage and the additives used in the recipe. So far not all sausage manufacturers indicate whether they are stuffed into natural or artificial casings. This information would be useful to the consumers to understand the quality of the product they are purchasing
3) How are natural casings better than artificial?
Natural casings have better taste, higher quality meat and ingredients, and sometimes even longer shelf lives, and due to the porosity characteristics of their fabric, they allow better ventilation and therefore better drying .On the other hand plastic casings do not breathe and some of them tend to promote bacterial growth.
- Natural Casings readily permit deep smoke penetration
- Natural Casings have excellent characteristics of elasticity and tensile strength, to allow for high efficiency production and expansion during filling
- Natural Casings protect the fine flavor of sausage, without contributing any conflicting flavorings of their own
- Natural Casing Sausage has that special "snap" and tender bite that's like no other man-made product, and is so highly demanded by today's knowledgeable consumers
- Sausage in Natural Casings stays tender and juicy
- The osmotic quality of Natural Casings permits superb cooking
- The term "Natural" is, and continues to be, one of the most powerful words influencing consumers' buying decisions.
4) Can I make sausages in natural casings at home?
Yes of course. Supermarkets carry small packages (tubs, jars, containers) in quantities of less than one hank. You can also buy them from authorized dealers who guarantee that the production is carried out by applying hygiene and safety on food processing. Many people make their own sausages, with a small meat grinder, meat, spices, natural casings and a recipe or their own creation.
5) How should natural casings be stored
This could vary from a couple of days to years, depending on the product, preservation status (salted or in brine) and temperature. For home: casings should be preserved with salt and stored in the fridge where they should be good for 8 – 10 weeks at least. Under perfect conditions, salted casings can be kept for many months. As for temperature, cold storage of +10 degrees is fine.
6) What types of natural casings are there?
- Sheep - small intestine, sheep bungs.
- Beef - small intestine (rounds), large intestine (middles), beef bung.
- Hogs - small intestine, large intestine (chitterling), after end, fat end, stomach, hog bung, bladder.
After slaughter of various species, in suitable rooms, the intestinal tract is emptied of internal weights and washed with water, then the mucosa is removed by scraping, and is then degreased. The intestinal tracts are subject to health inspection by authorized personnel, and stocked under salt for at least a month before being sold and used for stuffing of sausages and salami. The salted natural casings are then packed in plastic drums closed with lids. A bag suitable to get into contact with food is placed between the drum and the casings.
7) Can natural casings be eaten?
The natural casings are in effect meat food as they are defined by EU/Rule 852/853 of 2004 and can be eaten as such without endangering the health of the consumer. Common sense, however, leads most people to remove casings with mould before eating sausages and cured salamis and to usually eat casings used to stuff sausages or würstel.