Author: Rene Ross
Hog casings are by far the most popular variety for the commercial and home sausage maker alike. They have clean bite, a satisfying snap, a pleasing color that cannot be matched by any other variety. For those who are new to sausage making or have never had experience natural casings, the thought of buying and handling hog casings can be intimidating. Fear not. This quick primer will make you wonder why you were worried in the first place.
What are hog casings?
Hog casings are the intestines, bladders, or caecums of pigs.
What can I expect when using hog casings?
Natural hog casing is slippery and delicate, thus requiring a little more skill to handle than their collagen counterparts. But with some patience even the beginner can produce amazing results. Fresh hog casings usually have a slightly unpleasant odor, but this is natural; they are still good to use.
How many different varieties are there?
Bungs- terminal end of the large intestine; used for very large preparations such as hams
Bladders-used for large sausages such as bologna or salami
Middles (aka caps)- large intestines; used primarily bologna, liver sausage and lunch meats
Rounds - (a.k.a. casings or smalls)-small intestines; used for breakfast sausage
Narrow (28 mm and or less), Narrow-medium (28 - 32mm)
Regular-medium (32 - 35 mm)
Medium (35 - 38 mm)
Wide (38 - 42 mm)
Extra-wide (42 mm +)
Preflushed- don't require the 30-60 minute soak; but they still need to have water introduced inside
Tubed- casings come stretched over tubes of plastic to speed production
Net Packed - three hanks individually striped in net for easy removal
Vac Packed- individually packed in vacuum pouch
How do you use it?
Soak in room temperature water for 30 minutes to an hour to remove excess salt. Then flush inside and out with slightly warmer water to release some of the fat for easier sliding onto the extruder. Massage and separate the casing to eliminate dry spots.
A pound of meat usually requires 1.5-2 feet of sausage casings. Good for most sausages including brats, pork sausage, kielbasa, smoked sausages, but check your recipe. Not good for dried.
How much should I buy?
One hank is 150-200 feet long, stuffs 100-125 lbs. and costs about $50. Quantities geared towards the home sausage maker are around 30-50 feet long, stuff 20-25 lbs. and cost roughly $20.
Where do I buy hog casing?
Casings are available from your local butcher, or from online vendors.
How do you store them?
All natural casings require refrigeration in a brine after opened. They can keep in the fridge for 6 months to a year.
More info, resources, and gourmet recipes are at HomeSausageMaking.com