Monday, March 14, 2016

Sausage Casings 101: Fibrous Casings

It's that time again! In part three of our series on sausage casings, we're taking a look at fibrous casings, which come in tons of varieties to fit your specific sausage plans. If you're craving pepperoni, liverwurst or any other sausage that requires tight stuffing, fibrous casings might be the right choice for you.

While fibrous casings are inedible, they're still traditionally used to make several specific types of sausage. When you're shopping fibrous casings at the Sausage Maker online store, you'll find usage and recipe suggestions within our product descriptions. Be sure to choose the right diameter for the amount of meat you'll be stuffing, and choose a dark-colored casing if you want to lend a classic smoked look to your finished product.

Read below for our tips on making the most of your fibrous casings, plus a few dos and don'ts for beginners.
Mahogany Fibrous Summer Sausage Casings, $15.99 at the Sausage Maker

What are fibrous casings made of?

Fibrous casings are made with plant fiber in the form of cellulose, non-meat glycerin, added moisture and food oil running lengthwise, which gives them added strength. 

Are fibrous casings edible?

No, these casings are not edible, although they do peel easily when cooked.

What are fibrous casings generally used for?

Fibrous casings are most commonly used for making pepperonis, summer sausage, beef sticks, bologna, cooked salamis, liverwurst, etc. They are much more durable against tight stuffing, which makes them ideal for stuffing fine ground or emulsified sausages tightly.  

How do I prepare these fibrous casings for use?

Soak fibrous casings in tap water for 20-30 minutes. Make sure that the water gets inside the casing as well as covering the outside. Water can be cool, tepid or room temperature. 

Which casings should I use—plain or protein-lined (A.K.A. “meat cling”)?

So-called "protein-lined" casings have a protein coating applied to the inside of the casing. If you are making a dry cured product such as pepperoni or hard salami, you would use the protein-lined casings. These casings will shrink as the meat is shrinking, which will result in a better-looking product. 

When would I use the mahogany-colored or other designer casings?

Brown, red and mahogany casings can be used when you want to give a smoky or colored appearance without using a smoker. Often these recipes use liquid smoke to impart a smoky flavor to the meat. Other designer casings (i.e. string-effect) are simply printed for making a unique-looking final product. 

Do these casings let the smoke penetrate?

Yes, fibrous casings are porous and allow the smoke to penetrate into the meat. However, they are not as porous/permeable as collagen casings or natural casings (which are the most permeable).

Ready to experiment with fibrous casings? Check out the selection in our store and visit our blog again soon for the conclusion of our sausage casings series, when we'll talk troubleshooting. Happy cooking!