Are You Supposed To Remove Sausage Casing?

Sausage casings are usually made out of animal intestines, typically from either sheep or hogs. People often wonder if you need to remove sausage casing before cooking or eating sausage.

So do you?

If the sausage casing is edible, you do not have to remove it before cooking or eating the sausage. Many casings are edible, but some taste better than others.

Sausage in natural sausage casing that you are not supposed to remove
Most natural sausage casings are edible.

Can You Eat Sausage Casing?

You can eat edible sausage casings. If you’ve already cooked the sausage with edible casings, the casings are cooked as well, which means they’re safe to eat. That being said, there are thick casings and there are thin casings, and you may find that the thicker casings are a little difficult to chew and are not very tasty. If your sausage casing is too thick or has a “plastic” feel, it’s best to remove it before eating the sausage meat.

Types of Sausage Casings

There are many different types of sausage casings. These three are the most common:

  • Natural casing. Most sausages have natural casings that are made out of some part of an animal’s digestive system, such as the large intestine, small intestine, or even the stomach. They are sometimes made from the esophagus or the bladder of the animal. These casings usually have to be soaked before they can be stuffed properly. While a natural sausage casing can be a bit expensive, it is the least likely to break and is quite tender. They have to be stored properly so they don’t go bad.
  • Collagen casings. These casings come from collagen that is derived from the corium layer of beef hides, and they are often used to cover dry sausages. They shrink with the product and aren’t very strong, and they come in a variety of forms and sizes. They are considered an artificial sausage casing.
  • Cellulose casings. These are another type of artificial casings. They’re made out of synthetic materials such as collagen. They are uniform in shape and size and don’t break easily, but they are generally removed before the product is sold to the public. So you rarely, if ever, see these casings on your foods. One example of cellulose casings is a fibrous casing made for lunch meat.
Collagen sausage casings that some cooks think you are supposed to remove
Collagen casings

How To Know if Sausage Casing Is Edible

It is okay to eat natural casings, but you should not eat artificial casings, which include both collagen and cellulose casings. If the casing is thin, this usually means that it is made out of body parts of animals. If the casing is plastic-looking or overly thick, you should probably remove it from the sausage.

If you’re not sure if the casings are edible, check the label on the sausage packaging or check with the butcher who sold you the sausage.

How To Remove Sausage Casing

Sausage casings are best removed when the sausage is uncooked, but either way, it’s a fairly easy process.

Raw Sausage

  1. Freeze the uncooked sausage for 15 to 20 minutes, so the filling won’t stick.
  2. With a knife, cut each sausage from end to end, only just enough to pierce the casing.
  3. Peel the casing partially back and flip the sausage over so the cut side is facing down, then slip the casing all the way off.

Cooked Sausage

  1. Simmer the sausages in hot water for two to three minutes.
  2. Transfer the simmered sausages to a bowl or pot of cold water to stop the cooking.
  3. Pat the sausages dry with a paper towel.
  4. With a knife, cut each sausage from end to end, only just enough to pierce the casing.
  5. Peel the casing partially back and flip the sausage over so the cut side is facing down, then slip the casing all the way off.

How To Cook Sausage Without Casing

After you remove the casing from the sausage, you can cook the meat as you normally would. Simply follow the instructions above for de-casing the sausage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sausage Casings

Can You Remove Sausage Casing After Cooking?

You certainly can, but it’s a lot easier if the sausage is still warm. If you just took them out of the refrigerator and you wish to remove the casing, simmer them in hot water for two to three minutes first, then transfer them to cold water and pat them dry before de-casing them.

How Much Sausage Casing Do I Need per Pound?

The amount of sausage casing required per pound depends on the type of casings and sausage you have. If you use sheep casings, 3.25 feet (1 meter) of casing is enough for each pound of sausage meat. You will need 2.95 feet (0.9 meters) of sausage casing per pound when using hog casings, which are wider.

Why Are My Sausage Casings Tough?

Sausage casings will be tough if you haven’t soaked them and flushed them with water to remove salt. Or they may have been stored for too long. Some chefs say casings should be discarded after six months to one year. Casings can also be tough after cooking if you didn’t let the sausage rise to room temperature after taking it out of the fridge or freezer.