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The Difference Between Natural Casing and Artificial Casing

For centuries, sausages have been loved by people all over the world in their many different forms and flavours. At the heart of their creation is the sausage casing, a thin edible wrapper that binds together a delicious mixture of meat and spices. There are two main types of casings: natural casings and synthetic casings. In this article, we'll delve into the world of sausages, exploring the fundamental differences between natural and artificial casings, their properties, manufacturing processes, and how they affect the flavour and texture of your favourite sausages.

Natural casings: a time-honoured tradition

Source and origin: natural casings, as the name suggests, are taken from the intestines of animals. Traditionally, the most commonly used natural casings come from pigs, sheep and cattle. These casings have been used for centuries and are known for their authenticity and historical significance.

Texture and Bite: One of the most distinctive features of natural casings is their texture and bite. They are thinner and more delicate than their man-made counterparts and make a satisfying "click" when bitten into. This texture enhances the overall sausage eating experience and adds a unique tactile element.

Flavour enhancement: The natural casing is porous and allows for flavour exchange between the stuffing and the casing during the cooking process. This makes the sausage more flavourful and aromatic. The casing absorbs some of the juices and spices from the meat mixture, giving the sausage a subtle but distinctive flavour.

Varieties: Natural casings come in a variety of sizes and types, each suited to a specific style of sausage. For example, lamb casings are often used for breakfast sausages, while larger beef casings are used for multiflavoured salami and larger sausages.

Preparation: Using natural sausage casings requires careful preparation. It needs to be cleaned, soaked in water and rinsed thoroughly before use to remove any salt or preservatives. This process ensures that the casing is pliable and ready for filling.

Artificial casings: a modern convenience

Ingredients: Artificial casings, also known as synthetic or collagen casings, are usually made from cellulose or collagen of animal or vegetable origin. They are manufactured to precise specifications, resulting in consistent size and quality.

Uniformity: Synthetic casings have a high degree of uniformity and consistency, making them the preferred choice for mass production and commercial sausage manufacturing. Their uniform size and texture make them easy to use and ensure that sausages have a consistent appearance.

No flavour interference: unlike natural casings, synthetic casings do not impart any additional flavour to the sausage. This can be an advantage when the goal is to obtain a pure meat and seasoning flavour.

Versatility and customisation: artificial casings come in a variety of types, including collagen, cellulose and plastic, each with its own specific purpose. They can be customised to suit different sausage styles, from hot dogs to pepperoni.

Ease of Use: Synthetic sausage casings are readily available, come pre-packaged, and require minimal preparation. They do not require soaking or rinsing, making them a convenient choice for home cooking and large-scale sausage production.

Choosing between natural and artificial casings

The choice between natural and artificial casings ultimately depends on personal preference, tradition and the type of sausage being made. Here are some factors to consider:

Texture and taste: If you prefer a sausage with a satisfying taste and a finer texture, natural casings are the best choice for you.

Flavour enhancement: natural casings enhance the flavour of the sausage, making them an excellent choice for those looking for a more authentic and intense flavour.

Authenticity: If you are a purist who values the tradition and historical significance of sausages, then natural casings are the authentic choice.

Uniformity and Convenience: Synthetic sausage casings offer uniformity and convenience, making them a practical choice where mass production or consistency of appearance is critical.

Dietary Preferences: For vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions, artificial sausage casings may be the preferred choice, as they are often plant-based.


The choice of natural or artificial casings for sausage making depends on tradition, taste and convenience. Natural casings continue to be favoured by artisanal sausage makers and enthusiasts for their historical significance, unique texture and flavour enhancing properties. On the other hand, artificial sausage casings have become the preferred choice for large-scale commercial production due to their uniformity and ease of use.

Ultimately, whether you're making sausages in your home kitchen or enjoying them at your favourite deli, casings play a vital role in shaping the overall sausage experience. Each type of casing has its own unique benefits, ensuring that there is a sausage to suit every taste and preference. So the next time you savour a delicious sausage, take a moment to appreciate the casing that wraps it and the centuries of tradition or modern innovations that make it possible.


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