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Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Sausage Casings

Yes. The proper name for the outside of a sausage is a ‘casing’ but sausage casings are often referred to as ‘sausage skins’, or 'intestines'. The primary purpose of a sausage casing is to keep all of your sausage meat together. However, natural sausage casings also stop your beautiful sausage juices from escaping (meaning a juicer/less dry sausage) whilst simultaneously absorbing your BBQ flavours and aroma’s. Isn’t mother nature clever.

Casings are the forgotten super-hero of the humble sausage. That’s because without a good sausage casing, you can’t have a good sausage. Your sausage casing is what keeps all your carefully chosen ingredients, flavours and juices in and it also dictates the texture and eating experience of your final sausage. Sausage making aficionados (aka gurus) are obsessed with having the right sausage ‘snap’ when you bite into a sausage, which all comes down to the casing you use. Natural casings give the best sausage snap. So don’t ruin your wieners, choose a natural casing.

Natural sausage casings are made from the small intestines of an animal, in our case free range, grass fed, New Zealand sheep. They are cleaned and calibrated by hand and via machinery using only water. Sea salt is added to act as a natural preserving agent enabling them to survive outside of a fridge for relatively long periods of time.

The benefits of the natural casing are flavour and visual appeal. Natural sausage casings have an enhanced taste, tenderness and texture that no synthetic casing can match. Natural casings also provide a far superior consumption experience with that authentic snap when eaten. Because natural sausage casings breathe, the beautiful BBQ, smoking and cooking flavours can permeate the casing and infuse the meat, resulting in one very tasty sausage.

Only sausages made from natural casings have that trademark sausage ‘smile’. If your sausage doesn’t smile, it means its made from a collagen casing, or as we call them, an industrialised t**d.

Without a good sausage casing, you can’t have a good sausage. Sheep casings have the thinnest wall of any natural sausage casing (even thinner than hog) so are less prone to chewyness and have an amazing ‘semipermeable’ wall which means none of your special sausage juices escape but all of the beautiful BBQ/cooking flavours are absorbed. The end result is a sausage with great flavour, texture and the much prized sausage “snap” that you can only get from a natural sausage.

Casings are generally sold based on their diameter (often referred to as ‘calibre’). Natural sheep casings generally range from 20-30mm (0.8″-1.2″), sold as either 20/22 (as in 20-22mm), 22/24, 24/26 or 26/28. The measurement is the diameter of a casing once stuffed. Hog casings generally fall between 30-45mm/1.2-1.8″ (32/35, 35/38 or 38/42). The sausage casings in our online products are 24-26mm/1″-1 1/16″ (or 24/26). This means they range from 24mm diameter to 26mm diameter, and that your sausage will therefore end up between 24-26mm. This is about the same size as a NZ $2 coin or a US quarter. Certain sausages have traditionally used certain sized casings but at NZCC we are not size-ist. Our motto is that it’s not the size of your sausage that counts. What’s important is the quality of the finished product.

Sheep casings are not as wide as hog casings (aka they have a smaller diameter). As such, a sausage made with a hog casing will be a lot fatter/wider than a sausage made with a sheep casing. The wall of sheep casings are also thinner than hog casings which means they are less prone to chewyness/being rubbery. We believe sheep casings give the best sausage texture and delivery, with the much prized sausage ‘snap’ you only get from a natural sausage.

At The New Zealand Casings Co we always say ‘never trust a straight sausage’. That’s because if your sausage doesn’t smile, its made from a collagen casing. Collagen Casings are made from the highly processed hides of cattle or hogs and typically contain lots of yucky stuff like sodium carboxymethylcellulose, mineral oil (otherwise known as liquid paraffin, a highly refined by-product of petroleum distillation) and ammonium hydroxide. The result is a collagen casing with a wall like soft plastic which means they don’t breathe in any of those beautiful BBQ flavours and aromoa’s or match the much revered ‘snap’ of a natural casing. So don’t be a silly sausage, choose a natural casing.

Our natural casings only come from New Zealand farms, where the animals are free range, grass-fed and fully traceable from from farm gate to plate.

At The New Zealand Casings Co, we believe that Mother Nature does it best. So why mess with it. That’s why our sausages have only 2 ingredients – natural sheep intestines and salt.

Yes they are. We only use natural sausage casings from sheep so they are edible.

No chemicals, no additives and no nasty stuff. In fact, water is the only thing we use during the processing of our natural casings.

All of our natural sheep casings are Halal Certified by the New Zealand Islamic Development Trust (HL MB2901). They are processed in our dedicated, Halal certified, sheep casings facility in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. A copy of our Halal certification can be presented prior to ordering our sheep casings if required.

Our Hog casings are not halal and are processed at a separate facility.

Casings come in lots of different sizes (width/diameter) and lengths. The amount of sausages you can make from each casings product is stated on each of our product pages. We've also developed a handy sausage casing calculator which you can find here.

1kg/2.2lb of Meat requires 3.2m/10.5ft of Casings. To work out the length of casings you need, multiply your KG of meat by 3.2. This will give you the length of casings you need in Metres eg I have 12.4kg of Meat. 12.4 * 3.2 = 40m of Casings required.
Assumes 24-26 Sheep Casings. 14cm sausages. Numbers are a guide only.

Yes. All natural sausages casings (sheep and hog) are edible.

Although we believe natural sheep casings deliver a better sausage, they do have a thinner wall then hog casings so are more delicate and prone to tearing. As such, if you are a first time sausage maker, we would recommend using hog casings, which will give you a fatter, chunkier sausage. Once you get the knack of it give natural sheep casings a go, your sausage will thank you.

Put simply, the size (width/diameter) of your sausage casing size will dictate the size of your sausage. If you use a 24-26mm sheep casing, your sausage will be about 24-26mm wide. History and tradition usually guides which sausage casings to use for each type of sausage. However, there really is no technical reason that sausages have to be certain sizes, and therefore use certain casings. 
For example, an English Pork Sausage will effectively taste the same whether it is in a 32-35 hog casing or a 24-26 sheep casing. Sheep casings make slimmer sausages. We sell 19-21mm sheep casings, which are mostly used for snack sticks and biersticks but are also good for skinny sausages like chipolatas. Our 24-26mm sheep casings are traditionally used for breakfast sausages, frankfurters, hot dogs, landjaegar, makanek, chipolatas, cabanossi (kabana), bockwurst, nurnberger, chicken, pork, venison or halal sausages. Our hog casings will make a fat, chunky sausages and would traditionally be used for Italian sausages, bratwurst, knockwurst, kielbasa, fresh or cured chorizo, andouille, chicken, pork, venison, lamb or beef. Both our sheep and hog casings are suitable for fresh or cured sausages and smoking.

Yes, natural sheep and hog casings are great for dried, cured, smoked and fermented sausages such as snack sticks, chorizo or salami as the casing will naturally shrink with the meat. Collagen casings are not ideal as they do not shrink so you may end up with a loose casing.

Once rinsed, you must soak your casings in fresh, warm water, about 37°C (which is your body temperature). Make sure they are fully submerged and avoid water any hotter than 40°C degrees. Soak your casings for at least 45 minutes. Alternatively, casings can be soaked overnight in cold tap water.

It is important to have the right nozzle size for your casing, otherwise you could get tearing in your casing. Sheep casings require a smaller nozzle than hog casings. For our casings we strongly recommend:

Sheep 19-21mm = 10-13mm nozzle.
Sheep 24-26mm = 13-16mm nozzle.
Hog 32-35mm = 19-25mm nozzle.

(13mm is the width/diameter of the nozzle at its tip)

Sausage casings are naturally preserved in salt. They have a very long shelf life when handled and stored properly. Our casings come with a 365 day shelf life (even after they have been opened). They will have a best before date on the back of the pack. Please follow our storage instructions below…

Although casings can be stored at room temperature (and still last their full shelf life), we recommend storing them in the refrigerator (or in a cool dark place if this is not possible).

Storage Instructions Once Opened:

1) Keep Salted. If you have left over casing and have washed the salt off then remove any excess water by running your fingers down the casings then generously re-coat in finely ground salt eg normal table salt (no fancy flaked salt or rock salt here thank you). The easiest way to do this is to put your casing in a bowl and sprinkle a generous amount of salt over it, then roll the casing around in the salt. The salt will stick to the residual moisture on the casing. You want the casing to be completely covered in salt. More salt is better than not enough so if in doubt add more, too much salt will not harm the product.
2) Keep Air Tight. Wrap in clingfilm/gladwrap and put back into the pouch packaging or into a container
3) Keep Cool. Store your sausage casings in a cool, temperature-controlled environment of between 5°C and 10°C / 41-50°F – ideally in the fridge. Store casings away from direct sunlight and heat at all times.

Being a natural product, sausage casings do have their own unique 'aroma', sometimes described as 'a combination of barnyard and salt'. Left unrefrigerated, this aroma can become quite
strong. Rest assured, this does not mean that your product has spoiled. Sausage casings are naturally preserved in salt and will last at least 2 years, even at
room temp. However, we recommend storing your casings in the refrigerator which
will help the odor subside

Technically you can freeze your casings. However, we do not recommend it as it does damage their structure and can weaken them. Upon freezing, the salt will also crystalise and may tear the casing as it is removed. We recommend storing in the fridge according to storage instructions above.

Tubed casings are casings threaded onto soft or hard plastic tubes or pipes for easier application onto the stuffing nozzle. Casings on either tubes are less prone to tangles but casings on hard tubes are the easiest to use. Salted casings are casings in their original form and have not been threaded onto a tube so need to be carefully untied to avoid tangles and carefully threaded onto the sausage casing nozzle (you can use some cooking oil to make this easier). For beginner sausage makers, we recommend buying casings that have been threaded onto a tube.

‘Shorts’ are any short off-cuts of sausage casings that could vary from 1 metre -6 metres (3.3-20ft) in length. There are a number of manufacturers out there who cheekily package and sell these. What they mean for you is more time, more waste, more mess and poor value for money. We only use ‘A grade’ casings for the products sold on our online shop and we are proud to have a no ‘shorts’ guarantee for these products. All our casings come in lengths of 10 meters, which means a better sausage making experience for you.

A hank is 90m/98yd of casings. This might be made up of a number of shorter pieces that add up to 90m in total. For example, a hank of natural sheep casings could contain 3 x 30m lengths of casings or 9 x 10m lengths (as our online products do)

Some Casings suppliers thread their casings onto plastic tubes that allows for easy transfer of casings onto the filling horn/nozzle of your sausage stuffers/maker. This minimizes the risk of tangling or tearing and saves you time.  These tubes can be soft or hard, with hard tubes being the easiest to transfer. We thread our 20m/65ft and 40m/131ft product onto hard tubes. Our 90m/98yd product is threaded onto soft tubes.

The mincing plates or die will determine the coarseness or smoothness of the sausage meat and the final sausage. Essentially, bigger grinder plates = bigger holes = coarser sausage with more visible 'bits' and a more 'crumbly' texture. Smaller grinder plates = smaller holes = smoother sausage with finer texture (no visible 'bits') and firmer texture eg a hot dog. As a guide 1/8" = fine ground for Franks or Hot Dogs. 3/16" = medium grind for breakfast sausage, Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage. 1/4" or 5/16" = coarse grind for Bratwurst, Chorizo, Salami, Summer Sausage. If you are unsure then go with 3/16".

Our casings can be ordered direct from us, we ship locally as well as anywhere globally where top quality sausage casings are required, contact us now at sales@nzcasings.co.nz.

The New Zealand Casings Co can supply natural casings 52 weeks of the year. We know year-round availability is vitally important.

We are proud to make all of our natural sheep casings from NZ sourced material, right here in Hawkes Bay, NZ.

Sadly, this is now quite unique in the sausage casing world as most New Zealand originating raw material is now sent to China or other coutries for processing, often being mixed with product from other countries along the way. It is then on-shipped to the market to be sold in.

Our hog casings are made in Australia from NZ sourced pork.

We offer express shipping for a flat fee of $5 for all New Zealand orders except Rural Delivery, which costs a flat fee of $6. We aim to dispatch all orders received before 1pm on the same day, otherwise orders will be dispatched on the next working day. We expect delivery of your order to be within 1-3 business days for North Island and 2-5 business days for South Island. Rural deliveries may also take a further 2 days to arrive.  Occasionally weekends/public holidays or severe weather conditions can cause a delay in delivery.

You're on our New Zealand website. Our product is available in the USA . We have product stored in Illinois ready to be shipped straight to your door. Please visit our USA site to place your order: www.nzcasings.com

There are three ways:
1. Click on the little person icon in the menu at the top right of your screen.
2. Go to Wholesale page and click 'Apply Now / Login Now' button. Then click 'Already have an account? Login Here'

3. Or click this wholesale login link

If you are still having trouble check out our how-to guide or call us on 06 650 4140.