Technologies of Production of Sausages in Natural Casing

The choice of natural sausage casing should correspond to the “natural” trends in food production, and meet the needs of the environmental agenda. The key requirements for those casings are their barrier properties, heat treatment capacity and smoke permeability.

Types of Sausage Casings
Sausage casing is an outer casing for product packing in a meat processing plant. There can be various types of casings, depending on the material they are made of. The most common are:
Natural casings: they are made of the intestines of pigs, large and small cattle, particularly sheep. The bladders of slaughtered cattle are also used but less frequently. Pig, beef and sheep intestines (guts) are used for frankfurters and sausages. A casing with a corresponding diameter is chosen for each sausage type.

Collagen (protein) casing: it is made on the basis of split leather. It is a semi-synthetic material that is highly durable and resistant to high temperatures.
Synthetic casing: it is made of polymers. Those casings hold their shape well, they are thermo-shrinkable and cheap.

Those are just some of the many casing types that can be used for sausage production. The choice of a casing depends on the sausage type, method of preparation and preferences of the manufacturer.

Anton Skrypnikov
CEO of тм “Сasa de carne”
Anton Skrypnikov CEO of тм “Сasa de carne”

“We have a craft production and we use only natural products. For manufacturers, the benefit of the intestines is that they are permeable: they are suitable for smoking because the smoke better penetrates inside the sausages. They are also always available and they are not difficult to acquire. There are also certain disadvantages. For example, they always have a different caliber, and that difference can be up to 5 mm.

Overall, it is a good, convenient and presentable casing. If you use it for frankfurters, they turn out to be really beautiful, craft-made. And if you explain it to people, they, of course, will enthusiastically buy such products. We use only natural intestine casings for our frankfurters. The Krakow sausage and other small caliber sausages are also made with natural intestine casings.

We also use this casing for all dry-cured sausages, because good, high quality white mold grows only on the natural intestine casings, which protect the product from other harmful molds, i.e. the green and the black ones. It allows the sausages to mature naturally and to acquire a great taste, because the white mold that grows on the intestines gives them a strong taste of white mushrooms.”

Preferences of Russians
Although currently there are artificial alternatives for sausage casings, many manufacturers and consumers still prefer the traditional packaging method with intestines because of their naturality and additional benefits in the product’s taste qualities.

A survey of Russians conducted in February, 2024, by the analytics agency NAFI showed that a third of the Russian population prefers to choose sausages in natural casings.

Some of the questions that were asked included: is the casing material important to you, and if yes, products in what casing do you prefer to buy?

Technological Properties of Intestines
Sausage casing made of intestines is a traditional method of sausage packaging. It is strong and flexible enough to hold the meat filling during the process of preparation and storage. The intestine casings are classified according to their calibers and filling capacity. There are also different quality categories.

It is moisture- and smoke-permeable, that’s why it is suitable for smoking and dry-curing of products during the production of raw smoked and dry-cured sausages.

During storage, the opened intestine package should not be put in the freezer because it will lose its elasticity and will break during filling with minced meat. It is stored by pouring it with table salt. The optimum storage temperature for products in a factory is from 0 to +10°. The intestine casings can be stored for up to 12 months in this temperature range. If the temperature is from 10 to +25°C, then they can be stored for 6 months.

The intestine casings also preserve the aroma and taste of the sausage giving the product a pleasant appearance. Moreover, due to its technological properties, it allows an even roasting of sausages and lets them retain their juiciness for a long time. Another advantage is that the sausages in those casings can be cooked in any way: from cooking to grilling.

This casing can be used for the production of any sausages: bratwurst, cooked, liver, dry-cured, smoked and semi-smoked sausages, speckwurst, etc. It is edible, and the sausage doesn’t need to be peeled before eating.

The tubed intestine casing is more convenient for large production lines. The intestines are cleaned of their fat, mucosal, serous and muscular membranes, and in a compact form, by corrugation, are put on a plastic tube. This process saves space during transportation and storage, and also significantly increases the productivity.

Packaging in Intestines
The technology of packaging sausages in intestines includes several stages which are very important for ensuring the high quality and safety of the final product.

First of all, the intestines are cleaned and washed in order to ensure a higher stretchability and hygiene, and also in order to get rid of excess salt. The meat and other sausage ingredients are prepared according to the recipe. After that, the stuffing is loaded into special equipment for filling the casings.

The filling of the casings is done in the following way: the intestine is placed on a tube (funnel) or an iron stuffer through which the stuffing is fed inside the casing. It’s important to control the evenness of the filling. At the same time, the casings should not be filled too much because when tightening the ends of the sausage, the casing will slightly stretch, and if the filling is too dense, the tension will lead to the rupture of the casing.

After the molding, the sausages are heat treated according to the recipe. This helps ensuring safety of the product by killing harmful microorganisms. The final stage is sausage cooling, and then the product is packed in a manner consistent with the health and safety requirements.

It is important to note that the process of packaging sausages in intestine casings requires strict compliance with health and safety regulations of food production in order to prevent the risk of product contamination by pathogenic microorganisms. Equally important is the compliance with the recipes in order to ensure high quality and good taste properties of the end product.

Polina Aslanova,