Choosing Collagen Casings
Artificial and Edible Casing
Choosing an Edible Collagen Casing for Sausage
COLLAGEN CASING DESCRIPTION
Edible Collagen Casings are usually made from beef collagen. All collagen casings that we sell are made from beef collagen. Most are made in diameters from 13 mm to 34 mm and made for several different uses in the crafting of sausage. Collagen casings are an artificial/edible casing made to replace natural casings. They were made to replace natural casings because of consistent sizing; the convenience of use can be used on high-speed equipment and are less messy than naturals. Edible collagen casings are always stuffed dry. Naturals are still soaked a period before stuffing.
Collagen Casing Manufacturing
This is a summary of the process that we use to manufacture edible collagen casings. There is a natural collagen layer on the inside of a beef hide as there is on all living creatures. This collagen layer is removed for casings, leaving the outside of the coat for leather. The fresh collagen is salted for transportation to the collagen manufacturing plant, and the following procedure takes place: The collagen is washed in distilled water to remove the salt. The fresh collagen is then given an acid bath to expand the fiber so that it is easier to work with. Next, the collagen is given a bath to neutralize the acid and then washed again with pure water to remove all impurities. Now the collagen is crushed and ground five times to make a paste-like bread dough. The collagen is now ready to be extruded under pressure, through nozzles, to form the casings.
Manufacturing a Variety of Casings
As the collagen is extruded, a cross-linking agent is added to the dough to cause the collagen to bind together to form a casing. We add glucose to the dough to get it to heal together to create a casing using heat and time. It is extruded into an oven at 120F and winds around to the point that ½ mile of casings are in the oven before it comes out the other end. The casings are placed on a reel of 1000 meters each and then moved to humidity and temperature-controlled room.
Casings for fresh sausage are made thin and tender. They are extruded through the thinnest walled tube with a small amount of glucose. Casings for hybrid (our newest casings) are a little thicker with a bit of more glucose and a longer time in the oven. Next is the casing for smoked sausage, which goes to the next level of thickness and cross-linking and higher shrink. The strongest casing that we make is for snack sticks as it has the most shrink, cross-linking, and the thickest wall.
How to Pick Your Casing
Fresh collagen is made for fresh sausage. It is made not to pull back from the ends of the sausage when you grill or fry. It is not made to cook and smoke as it will certainly melt and fall from the sticks during the process. The only way it can be used is to lay the sausage on racks in the house and process. It will undoubtedly make a tender smoked sausage. It was made in diameters from 17 mm to 34 mm.
Collagen casings for smoked sausage are stronger and have more shrink tension. Larger casings for smoked sausages need to be stronger to hang in longer links and to have a controlled diameter from top to bottom. They are also designed to take higher humidity cooking at a higher temperature. For example, the fresh sausage will melt at 173F under high humidity, and the smoked type will hold up to 178F under high humidity. They are made in diameters from 21 mm to 34 mm.
We have learned to walk the fine line between making a casing for fresh and one that can be hung in the smokehouse 12 inches to 16 inches long and not fall.
You will find the casing acceptable for fresh and smoked. This casing is currently made in sizes of 20 mm, 21 mm, and 23 mm.
We need a strong casing for snack sticks as some of our customers hang them in their smokehouse up to 5 ½ feet long. The customers want the snack sticks to finish at the same diameter from top to bottom. We build the casing with a lot of shrink tension so they will pull up tight while being cooked and end up the same diameter top to bottom. Snack Stick casings are made from 15mm to 23mm in clear and mahogany.