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Stuff Collagen Casings

Have your individual stuffing apparatus set up and ready to go. Then attach the appropriate sausage spout.

Combine the meat and ingredients in a mixing bowl or tub according to recipe directions;  mix/knead well.x
3. Fill the hopper with the freshly mixed batter, pack it tight to eliminate potential air bubbles in the casing.
4. If your sausage spout is tapered or  less than 10” (25cm), you will need to cut the casing into halves or thirds.
5. Slide the casing onto the sausage spout, leaving at least one inch dangling at the end of the tube.x
6. Close the end of the casing as you begin to hand crank the freshly mixed batter through the system.
  Apply a bit of pressure with your forefinger and thumb as the casing  unravels and fills with meat.
Collagen casings do not stretch as much as their natural counterparts and will rupture if filled too tightly.
To form the first link, squeeze the casing together with your forefinger and thumb as shown in the adjoining photo.
Cradle the end of the casing in the palm of your hand; twist clockwise three or four turns.
Twist the next link,  counterclockwise three or four turns, then clockwise three or four turns.
. To prevent collagen casings from unwinding in the smokehouse, hang on smoke sticks or tie with twine.

Collagen Casings
Originally, sausage casings were  derived from  scrubbed animal intestines, mostly cattle and pigs. In the 1920’s amid a new- found  popularity for all manner of  sausage products, animal casings (natural casings) were increasingly  in short 
supply.  In an attempt to fill this void, expanding companies began searching for an alternative casing. In due course, the first collagen casings were introduced to the industry. This meant that commercial sausage kitchens could produce cylindrically
uniform sausage products for the first time. This made it possible to produce multiple links of a uniform size and weight, clearly important when portion control is an issue. Collagen casings are extracted from USDA inspected animal hides. First,
the hides are split with special machinery to access the center corium layer which lies between the outer hair layer and the inner fat and muscle layer. Once the collagen-rich corium layer is laid bare, it’s chopped and mixed with food-grade acid
and vegetable cellulose fibers, then put through an extensive process, which forms a food-grade slurry. The slurry is sieved and filtered before being regenerated into cylindrical strands of collagen casings, which unravel accordion style as they are
filled with seasoned sausage meat.

Technology has been on the fast-track since the early development of the collagen casing. Understandably, the casing industry has scrambled to take advantage of the new technological improvements in the development of regenerated collagen casings. They have created a broad range of products for the commercial sausage producers, many of which have begun to trickle down to the home sausage making fraternity in recent years.

Now the home user has  a wide variety of collagen casings to choose from, each one intended for a specific application. For example, edible collagen casings designed expressly for the making of fresh sausage are so incredibly thin and tender they readily adhere to the meat.This casing type is moderately fragile and generally not recommended for use in the smokehouse. They are simply not strong enough to bear the weight of the sausage batter and are likely to rupture during the smoking cycle, thus spilling the meat batter onto the smokehouse floor. As with natural casings, fresh  collagen casings are primarily used to make fresh pork sausage links and frankfurters.

Smoked collagen casings, on the other hand, are manufactured  explicitly for use in the smokehouse. The wall of this casing is metrically thicker than its fresh counterpart and holds up very well during the smoke cooking process, providing it’s
properly dried during the initial drying cycle. Drying is important because it toughens the casing for the final stages of the smoke cooking process. Smoked collagen casings are used primarily for bratwurst, Italian sausage, dry cured pepperoni, and other semi-dry or dry cured products.

Unlike their natural hog and sheep counterparts, which tend to produce irregular size links with an ingrained intestinal curve, collagen casings yield straight uniform sausages.  One major drawback  is there inability to hold a twist resulting from its integrated memory which invariably returns the twisted links to their natural state if they are not prevented from doing so. One option that I’m partial to, is to twist and tie off each link with a short length of twine. This is monotonous work at best, but it will produce an eye appealing, old-fashioned effect that adds a bit of flare to your craft.

The larger flat collagen casings (60-100mm) are basically inedible because the casing wall is too thick and dense to chew. Additionally, the large size collagen are treated with aldehyde (dehydrogenated alcohol) during the manufacturing process.
They are used to make such favorites as beef summer sausage, pepperoni, venison salami, Genoa salami, thuringer, semi-dry cure bologna and capicola.

The latest generation of collagen casings, used primarily to make ring bologna, liver sausage and mettwurst, automatically curves into a perfect ring as they are being stuffed with seasoned ground meat.