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Hog Casings, Natural- Yes, But is Organic Possible?

I am being to experiment with sausage making- dry cure. Is there a source for organic hog casings? All input is apprieciated.

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  1. I don't think there are any. I have been looking for a source for several weeks because I am starting a European style smokehouse, charcuterie, salumi, etc., and haven't found them yet.

    I read that this year the Maine Organic Farms and Gardeners Association had to grant a waiver for hot dog casings at their Common Ground County Fair because no organic casings could be located.

    Here is a link to the site: http://www.mofga.org/fb_04food.html

    The exact quote on the site is "Alex Baumhoff has requested, and been granted, an exception to rule #4 with regard to sausage casings -- no organic source of casings has been found. All-natural sausage casings will be allowed in 2006.

    Rule Four:"All other ingredients must be certified organic, regardless of source, unless grown by the food vendor, in which case they must be verified to meet the same criteria for organic certification by the Fair Food Sub-committee. "

      1. re: realitykraft

        You could prepare them yourself easily enough. I saw it done once and it is a lot of work. You first need access to organic raw intestines. Then you have to clean them outside, turn them inside out and scrape the fat and inner layer of the mucosa off with a knife. You drape the intestine across the knife blade and then drag the length across the blade. You have to make sure you get all sides scraped clean. Then wash them again and either use them or then salt/brine them and keep in the fridge for later use.

        1. Yeah, I have I bio-engineering lab in my basement.
          If I could obtain fresh intestine- I would assume I could process the intestines myself.
          I think you have to carefully peel away layers of the intestine. And then they are cured?

          1. I've never found a source. Even the big producers like Niman Ranch sell conventional casings.

            1. Can't you contact a farmer directly and arrange for the intestines to be kept for you when an animal is butchered? Or a butcher shop? We get our meat directly from a farm which has its own butcher, I imagine if you could find some similar setup you could get the intestines.

              1. Why?

                All that fatty pork, packed inside pig intestine, and it's suddenly OK because the micro-thin casing is organic?

                1 Reply
                1. re: wayne keyser

                  I wonder if folks really understand what organic legally means when it comes to the food we eat.

                  Organic doesn't mean low fat or even healthy, except it won't have synthetic chemicals or hormones in it.

                  For meat it means that you know the livestock has been fed organic grains, grass, or silage; and that their manure hasn't been re-fed to them. A common practice with many commercial feed lots because cattle aren't really meant to live on grain and they don't digest it fully, so by re-feeding it they can then fully digest it. It also means that the livestock haven't beed pro-actively medicated, ie., fed medicine to prevent disese as opposed to treat it.

                  For crops it means that no synthetic pesticides or fertilizer was used. This doesn't mean that no pesticides or fertilizer were used, just that they were derived from natural sources. Also it means that no synthetics were used on the land where the crops were grown for three years prior. Of course many synthetic or harmful substances that can be found in soil last much longer than three years...

                  The reality is that large commercial producers who are "organic" may skirt the edge of the regulations, while many small farmers go so way beyong the legal definition of organic that they are also humane, practice sustainable agriculture, and have both healthy animals or crops, and unique or heirloom strains and breeds.

                  Here's a link to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 to see what it really means in the US.

                  This link goes to the 2002 revision of the Act-

                2. I am not going for a healthier sausage- The point is knowing where your food comes from, how it is made.
                  I think it is exciting to make something that is in my mind a store bought item.

                  While I can get the intestines- it probably doesn't make any sense to go through such lengths to maintain the integrity of the product, but It doesn't hurt to try.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: realitykraft

                    And based on this discussion, there's a lot more to making sausage casingss than just killing an organically fed pig. It also appears that the market for such an item is too small to set up a specialized processing plant. Maybe you will have settle for case-less sausage. The alternative is to really learn where sausage comes from, starting with the freshly butchered pig - from the inside out!


                  2. I would also like more information on this topic posted here... I was a complete vegetarian for years, then reintroduced organic or free-range/hormone free poultry back into my family's diet due to the blood types (O, meat-friendly) of my other family members. With joy I discovered there are so many sausages out there that are turkey and chicken now. But all had pork or lamb casings. For several months now I've bought a natural turkey keilbasa, since it had a "collagen" casing which I falsely thought might be a synthetic (non-toxic) or plant material. How disappointing to find out that it's made from boiled cattle hides. If I do not want to re-introduce "mammal" meat into my diet, then the newfound sausages are now off limits too. Someone above mentioned "casing-less" sausages. Is there a way for manufacturers to make a casing-less sausage commercially available, such that all the sausage bits inside hold together without falling apart during cooking, WITHOUT use of mammal products? My reading tells me collagen is considered "synthetic" and that all other casing types that are truly synthetic are too thick to be edible. There is no happy (mammal happy) medium?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SalviaCO

                      I believe 'skinless' hotdogs are made without any natural casing. The meat (plus binder) mixture is stuffed in a plastic tube, cooked, and then the plastic is removed. There are plenty of chicken/turkey hotdogs on the market.

                      If you want a raw (cook it yourself) poulty 'sausage', why not start with your own ground mixture, season it to taste and form into finger shaped 'meatballs'. You could even form them on skewers. This is common in Middle Eastern cooking (though there lamb is the most likely meat).

                      I suppose it would also be possible to wrap the mixture in cheese cloth, and then poach or fry that.


                    2. I get my sausage casings from Whole Foods, I'm not sure if they are organic or not, my guess is that probably are. The main reason I get them from WFM is that they will sell me a couple of feet of casings so I don't have to buy the entire hank.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chococat

                        This intrests me, does WFM sell "by the foot" what is the cost? I pay about $6 for 50 foot of hog casing. More importantly is the quality better than the packaged (zip style bag) casing?