Sausage casings can be natural (derived from lamb/sheep, pork and beef intestines) or artificial (manufactured from natural and/or man-made collagen).
Natural casings are delivered fully cleaned and dry salted with all the individual intestines bundled together or separated out on plastic tubes. Each animal intestine is better suited for a different type of sausage. For example, thin chicken sausages require a lamb casing whilst thick beef sausages and Salami require a hog or beef casing. If you get lost our friends at The Casing Boutique provide a great guide to help you along the way with your casing selection.
Before stuffing your sausages, it’s essential to rinse all superficial salt off the casings by giving them a thorough soak in fresh water. Running water through the inside helps with this process also. Ideal bathing temp should be between 20°C and 30°C - avoid hot water as it will just promote bacterial growth and damage the strength and integrity of the casings.
Sheep: forty five minutes to an hour.
Hog: two hours or overnight under refrigeration.
Beef: four hours or better still, overnight under refrigeration.
If you store your natural casings in the fridge with plenty of salt they’ll have a shelf-life of one year.
Although we’re avid supporters of natural casings artificial casings can produce a more uniform sausage shape and are generally quicker and easier to fill. You’ll need to store them in the fridge once opened.