If you’re someone who enjoys experimenting with various vegetarian recipes or perhaps you’re involved in sausage-making, you might be curious about the availability of vegetarian sausage casings.
The good news is that you not only have vegetarian options but there are also vegan casings available.
These casings are crafted from plant-based and other non-animal ingredients, and they’re considered much healthier compared to both natural and artificial sausage casings.
So, in this article, we’re going to delve into all the things you need to know about these vegetarian sausage casings. We’ll have a thorough discussion about what they’re made of, how to store them properly, and of course, how to incorporate them into your sausage recipes for the best results.
Table of Contents
- Is it Possible to Find Vegetarian Sausage Casings?
- Types of Vegetarian Sausage Casings
- How to Use Vegetarian Sausage Casings
- Benefits of Vegetarian Sausage Casings
- Storing Vegetarian Sausage Casing
Is it Possible to Find Vegetarian Sausage Casings?
So, when you’re in the sausage-making game, choosing the perfect casing is a significant decision. You might hear it referred to as a sausage ‘casing,’ but it’s also commonly known as a sausage ‘skin.’
Now, there are essentially three main types of sausage casings: you have your natural ones, the artificial ones, and of course, the vegetarian options.
Natural & Artificial Sausage Casings
Traditionally, natural sausage casings have been made from animal intestines or skin. You can find options like hog, sheep, cattle, goat – even horse casings. But if you’re leaning towards a vegetarian lifestyle, these casing types won’t fit the bill.
Artificial casings can be crafted from materials like cellulose, collagen, or even plastic. Most natural and artificial casings are suitable for consumption, except for plastic casings – those aren’t for snacking. When it comes to size, they vary too. Collagen casings, for example, take the lead, stretching up to 164 feet or 50 meters.
Natural casings offer that classic flavor and texture, but they’re a bit finicky and have a shorter shelf life. On the flip side, artificial casings are user-friendly, last longer, and are budget-friendly. But here’s the catch: they might not provide the exact taste and texture you’re craving from natural casings.
Whether you’re a fan of natural or artificial, it’s important to consider the preferences and needs of the people enjoying your sausages. And for the veggie lovers and vegans out there, guess what? There’s a third option in town: vegetarian sausage casings.
Vegetarian Sausage Casings
The buzz around vegetarian sausages has been growing, thanks to the increasing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets these days.
If you’re someone who’s into making sausages or just enjoys experimenting with various vegetarian recipes, you might be wondering if vegetarian sausage casings exist.
Well, guess what? They absolutely do! These vegetarian sausage casings offer a fresh twist on sausage “skin,” embracing the plant-based lifestyle. They’re composed of water, vegetable glycerin, starches, and sugar – with no animal ingredients involved.
Unlike natural sausage casings derived from animal skin or guts, these veggie-friendly casings are entirely animal-free. This makes them suitable for kosher and halal requirements.
What’s more, you can actually eat them, and they come in different lengths, ranging from 12 to 50 meters (that’s about 39.3 to 164 feet, if you’re counting).
To put it in perspective, a 39.3-foot casing can yield around 120 sausages, while the 164-foot version can produce up to 500!
In terms of sizes, they offer two options: 23 and 32 millimeters in diameter. If you’re new to the sausage-making adventure, starting with the 23-millimeter size is recommended.
Now, the challenging part might be finding these vegetarian sausage casings at your local butcher shops. They’re still relatively new on the sausage scene. But don’t fret – you can easily purchase them online.
The added bonus? Pre-made casings are usually ready to use right away. Natural casings, on the other hand, require some soaking and rinsing before they’re prepared for use.
While supermarkets might not stock these casings just yet, you can find a variety of ready-made vegetarian sausages to satisfy your cravings.
Types of Vegetarian Sausage Casings
Vegan Sausage Casing
Vegan sausage casings have gained popularity in recent years and can be purchased online. They are typically composed of vegetables and are entirely consumable.
Moreover, most vegan casings available in the market are free from allergens, gluten, and GMO, which is beneficial for vegans on strict diets.
Carrageenan, water, glycerin, and starch are commonly used ingredients to make vegan sausage casings.
The texture of these casings is of high quality, which can make the sausages taste like authentic meat sausages. Since vegan casings are edible, there is no need to remove them after cooking.
Soy Protein Casings
Soy protein casings are made from soy protein and other plant-based ingredients. They are an excellent alternative to traditional sausage casings, as they are easy to use, have good smoke penetration, and provide an authentic sausage texture. They are also versatile and can be used for various sausage types, including hot dogs and breakfast sausages.
Alginate casings are made from a mixture of calcium alginate and water. They are an excellent option for vegetarian sausages, as they are easy to use, can be smoked, and are suitable for most sausage types. Alginate casings dissolve during cooking, eliminating the need for peeling.
*Alternatives for Vegetarian Sausage Casing
There are several other options available:
Cellulose casings are made from a combination of plant cellulose and water. They are available in different sizes, including small, medium, and large. Cellulose casings are perfect for vegetarian sausages, as they are easy to stuff, hold their shape well during cooking, and are easy to peel off after cooking.
They are also non-toxic and can be eaten, making them an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans.
Collagen casings are made from collagen derived from animal hides and bones, but some brands also offer vegetarian options made from plant-based sources. They are easy to use and provide uniform size and shape to sausages.
However, some people prefer to avoid collagen casings due to ethical concerns.
Plastic is another option used for creating sausage casings. Various types of polymers, such as polyamide, polyethylene, and polypropylene, are employed for this purpose.
However, plastic sausage casings are not intended for consumption. They are not edible, so you should remove them before serving the sausages.
How to Use Vegetarian Sausage Casings
Using vegetarian sausage casings is easy and straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use them:
- Choose the casing type that suits your needs and preferences.
- Soak the casings in warm water for 10-15 minutes to soften them.
- Attach the casing to the sausage stuffer and begin stuffing the sausage mixture into the casing.
- Fill the casing to the desired thickness, leaving enough room for the sausage to expand during cooking.
- Tie the ends of the casing or twist the sausage into links.
- Cook the sausage according to your recipe instructions.
Benefits of Vegetarian Sausage Casings
Vegetarian sausage casings are generally healthier than traditional casings, as they are made from plant-based sources and are free from harmful chemicals and preservatives.
Producing traditional sausage casings requires the use of animal parts, which can lead to environmental concerns. Vegetarian sausage casings, on the other hand, are made from plant-based sources, reducing the environmental impact of sausage production.
For many vegetarians and vegans, the use of animal products in food is a concern. Vegetarian sausage casings provide an ethical alternative that allows them to enjoy sausage without compromising their values.
Storing Vegetarian Sausage Casing
Due to its unique composition, it’s essential to store vegetarian sausage casing correctly to prevent spoilage.
Just like natural or artificial sausage casings, vegetarian sausage casings can quickly go bad if not stored properly. This is especially important if you have leftover casings and don’t want to waste them.
To keep vegetarian sausage casing fresh, store them in a cool, dry area. You can store them for up to one year in a dry, sealed container or any other type of vacuum-sealed package.
It’s not recommended to freeze sausage casings as the low temperature can damage the casings and significantly affect their quality. Therefore, it’s best to avoid freezing them and instead opt for proper storage at room temperature.
To sum things up, vegetarian sausage casing emerges as a healthier and progressively more favored alternative when compared to natural and artificial options.
You can readily locate it at larger supermarkets or online stores.
Cooking with these plant-based casings is a breeze – you can even try your hand at crafting your own.
They’re versatile in the kitchen as well. You can fry them up, smoke them, boil them – the possibilities are wide-ranging. Furthermore, with a plethora of non-meat filling recipes available, you have an entire realm of possibilities to delve into.
Fernando is the creator and writer behind the food blog Eating with your Hands. Living and working in cities like Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin, and being married to a Canadian foodie, has given Fernando a passion and interest in food and inspired him to run EWYH.