Sausage is a popular food item that is enjoyed by many people around the world. But what is the sausage skin made of? In general, natural sausage casings are made from the submucosa of the intestines of meat animals such as beef, sheep, and pork. Artificial guts, which were introduced in the early 20th century, are made of collagen and cellulose. The material is then molded by a continuous extrusion process, which produces a single sausage casing of indefinite length.
The most popular sausage casings are made with the clean intestines of animals, especially pigs, sheep, and cows. These are called “natural guts” and the most ubiquitous is the 32-34 mm pig's belly. Commercially used collagen wraps are more commonly used and are considered a much more affordable option compared to natural wraps. However, these collagen guts are made from pig and cow skins.
In addition to that, animal bones and tendons are also used to make these guts. The type of gut the sausage has will influence many things such as the final flavor, how well the meat ferments, how well the meat is protected from light, whether it is airflow or not, etc. There are three types of artificial sausage casings that are generally made with collagen, cellulose, and plastic which may not be completely edible. Made with the tip of a cow's large intestine, veal bungs are large diameter sausage guts that are generally used for large mortadella, head cheese, souse, capicola and mortadella.
Fibrous casings are inedible sausage casings made from a form of cellulose material that comes off easily when cooked. This type of natural gut is also commonly used to make smoked Polish sausages, annular mortadella with a small diameter and landjäeger. Vacuum packers are also popular due to their ease of use and shorter thread length for hand filling. Sheep, lamb and pig guts are available in tubes where each strand is placed in a plastic tube allowing the sausage manufacturer to easily place the casing in the filling horn. In recent years these tubes have been modified so that they break along a seam and the operator can remove them on the side back of the horn allowing for greater efficiency. Understanding different types of sausage guts can help put all charcuterie meats into perspective.
Natural sausage casings are made from the submucosa of the small intestine of meat animals which consists mainly of natural collagen. Artificial guts may contain traces of synthetic substances while fibrous casings are inedible and come off easily when cooked. Waking up to a delicious English breakfast served with a cup of decaffeinated tea or coffee may be one of life's greatest pleasures but adding crispy soft sausages makes it even more enjoyable. Knowing what type of gut your sausage has will help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing your favorite type.