Complete Guide to Vegetarian Sausage Casings

If you are someone who loves experimenting with different vegetarian recipes or is in the business of sausage-making, you may be wondering whether there are vegetarian sausage casings available. 

Fortunately, not only are vegetarian casings available but vegan casings can also be found. These casings are created from plant-based and other non-animal-derived ingredients and are considered to be much healthier than both natural and artificial sausage casings.

In this article, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about vegetarian sausage casings. This will include a detailed discussion of the materials they are made from, the best way to store them, and how to use them in your sausage recipes.

vegetarian-sausage-casing

Is it Possible to Find Vegetarian Sausage Casings?

When it comes to making sausages, choosing the right kind of casing is crucial. While commonly referred to as sausage “casing,” it is also known as sausage “skin.”

There are three main types of sausage casing: natural, artificial, and vegetarian.

Natural & Artificial Sausage Casings

Natural sausage casings have been traditionally made from animal intestines or skin. Common sources include hog, sheep, cattle, goat, and even horse casings. However, for vegetarians, this type of casing is not an option.

Artificial casings, on the other hand, can be made from materials such as cellulose, collagen, or plastic. While many natural and artificial casings are edible, plastic casings are not. Artificial casings also come in a variety of sizes, with collagen casings being the longest at up to 50 meters or 164 feet in length.

While natural casings provide a traditional taste and texture, they can be more difficult to work with and have a shorter shelf life. On the other hand, artificial casings are easier to handle, have a longer shelf life, and are less expensive. However, they may not provide the same taste and texture as natural casings.

Whether you choose natural or artificial casings, it’s important to consider the dietary restrictions and preferences of those who will be consuming your sausages. For those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, there is a third option: vegetarian sausage casings.

Vegetarian Sausage Casings

Vegetarian sausages have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the rise of vegetarian and vegan diets. 

For those in the sausage-making business or anyone who enjoys experimenting with different vegetarian recipes, you may be wondering if vegetarian sausage casings are available. 

The answer is yes! Vegetarian sausage casings are a new type of sausage skin that is 100% plant-based and made from water, vegetable glycerin, starches, and sugar.

Unlike natural sausage casings made from animal skin or intestines, vegetarian sausage casings are animal-free, making them suitable for both kosher and halal applications. 

They are also entirely edible and can be quite long, ranging from 12 to 50 meters or 39.3 to 164 feet. A 39.3-foot vegetarian sausage casing can produce around 120 sausages, while a 164-foot casing can make up to 500 sausages. 

Vegetarian sausage casings come in 23 and 32 millimeters in diameter, and it is best to start with the 23-millimeter casings if you’re a beginner sausage maker.

Finding vegetarian sausage casings in local butcher shops can be challenging as they are relatively new to the sausage-production world. 

However, they are readily available online, and pre-made vegetarian sausage casings are usually ready to use. In contrast, natural sausage casings or animal casings require soaking in brine and rinsing with cold water before use. 

It may also be challenging to find vegetarian sausage casings in a supermarket, but there are many ready-made vegetarian sausages available.

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

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 if you cannot find vegetarian sausage casings.

Cellulose Casings

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

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 Casings

Plastic is another material that can be used to make sausage casings. Various types of polymers are used, including polyethylene, polyamide, and polypropylene. However, plastic sausage casings are not edible and should be removed before serving.

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

Healthier

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.

Environmentally-friendly

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.

Ethical

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.

Conclusion

To sum up, vegetarian sausage casing is a healthier and more popular alternative to natural and artificial sausage casings. It’s widely available in larger supermarkets and online shops. 

Cooking with vegetarian and vegan sausage casing is easy, and you can even make your own. 

It can be cooked in various ways, including frying, smoking, and boiling. With numerous non-meat filling recipes available, there are many options to try.

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