A sausage is a prepared food product usually made from ground meat, animal fat, salt, and spices, and sometimes other ingredients such as herbs, and generally packed in a casing. Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique, originating in the European cuisine.
Traditionally, casings have been made of animal intestines, though they are now often synthetic. Some sausages are cooked during processing, and the casing may be removed at that time. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying in cool air, or smoking. The distinct flavor of some sausages is due to fermentation by Lactobacillus during curing.
There is no consensus as to whether similar products not packed in casings, such as pâté, meatloaf, scrapple and head cheese could be considered sausage.
Besides being eaten on its own, sausage is also used as an ingredient in other foods.
HistorySausage is a logical outcome of efficient butchery. Sausage-makers put to use meat and animal parts that are edible and nutritious, but not particularly appealing, such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat, and that allow the preservation of meat that can not be consumed immediately. These were typically salted and stuffed into a tubular casing made from the cleaned intestine of the animal producing the characteristic cylindrical shape. Hence, sausages, puddings and salami are amongst the oldest of prepared foods, whether cooked and eaten immediately or dried to varying degrees. It is often assumed that sausages were invented by Sumerians in what is Iraq today, around 3000 BC. Chinese sausage làcháng (臘腸/腊肠), which consisted of goat and lamb meat, was first mentioned in 589 BC. Homer, the poet of Ancient Greece, mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey (book 20, verse 25), and Epicharmus (ca. 550 BC – ca. 460 BC) wrote a comedy titled The Sausage. Evidence suggests that sausages were already popular both among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and most likely with the non-literate tribes occupying the larger part of Europe.
During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, sausages were associated with the Lupercalia festival. The early Catholic Church outlawed the Lupercalia Festival and made eating sausage a sin. For this reason, the Roman emperor Constantine banned the eating of sausages. Early in the 10th century in the Byzantine Empire, Leo VI the Wise outlawed the production of blood sausages following cases of food poisoning.
Traditionally, sausage casings were made of the cleaned intestines (or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings) of animals. Today, however, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose or even plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages. Additionally, luncheon meat (such as Spam) and sausage meat are now available without casings in tins and jars.
The most basic sausage consists of meat cut into pieces or ground and filled into a casing such as an animal intestine. The meat may be from any animal, but traditionally is pork, beef or veal. The meat/fat ratio is dependent upon the style and producer, but in the United States, fat content is legally limited to a maximum of 30%, 35% or 50%, by weight, depending on the style. The USDA defines the content for various sausages and generally prohibits fillers and extenders. Most traditional styles of sausage from Europe and Asia use no bread-based filler and are 100% meat and fat (excluding salt and other flavorings, such as herbs). In the UK and other countries with English cooking traditions, bread and starch-based fillers account for up to 25% of ingredients. The filler used in many sausages helps them to keep their shape as they are cooked. As the meat contracts in the heat so the filler expands.
Classification of sausages
Sausages may be classified in any number of ways, for instance by the type of meat and other ingredients they contain, or by their consistency. The most popular classification is probably by type of preparation, but even this is subject to regional differences of opinion. In the English-speaking world, the following distinction between fresh sausages, cooked sausages and dry sausages seems to be more or less accepted:
- Cooked sausages are made with fresh meats and then fully cooked. They are either eaten immediately after cooking or must be refrigerated. Examples include hot dogs, Braunschweiger and liver sausages.
- Cooked smoked sausages are cooked and then smoked or smoke-cooked. They are eaten hot or cold, but need to be refrigerated. Examples include kielbasa and Mortadella.
- Fresh sausages are made from meats that have not been previously cured. They must be refrigerated and thoroughly cooked before eating. Examples include Boerewors, Italian pork sausage, breakfast sausage and Yarraque.
- Fresh smoked sausages are fresh sausages that are smoked. They should be refrigerated and cooked thoroughly before eating. Examples include Mettwurst and Romanian sausage.
- Dry sausages are fresh sausages that are dried. They are generally eaten cold and will keep for a long time. Examples include salami, Droë wors, Sucuk, Landjäger, and summer sausage.
Other countries, however, use different systems of classification. Germany, for instance, which boasts more than 1200 types of sausage, distinguishes raw, cooked and pre-cooked sausages.
- Raw sausages are made with raw meat and are not cooked. They are preserved by lactic acid fermentation, and may be dried, brined or smoked. Most raw sausages will keep for a long time. Examples include cervelat, mettwurst and salami.
- Cooked sausages may include water and emulsifiers and are always cooked. They will not keep long. Examples include Jagdwurst and Weißwurst.
- Pre-cooked sausages are made with cooked meat, and may include raw organ meat. They may be heated after casing, and will keep only for a few days. Examples include Saumagen and Blutwurst.
In Italy, the basic distinction is:
- Raw sausage (salsiccia)
- Cured or cooked sausage (salume)
The US has a particular type called pickled sausages, commonly found in gas stations and small roadside delicatessens. These are usually smoked and/or boiled sausages of a highly processed frankfurter (hot dog) or kielbasa style plunged into a boiling brine of vinegar, salt, spices (red pepper, paprika...) and often a pink coloring, then jarred. They are available in single blister packs, e.g., Slim Jim meat snacks, or in jars atop the deli cooler. They are shelf stable, and are a frequently offered alternative to beef jerky, beef stick, and kippered beef snacks.
Certain countries classify sausage types according to the region in which the sausage was traditionally produced:
- France: Montbéliard, Morteau, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Merguez...
- Germany: Frankfurt, Thuringia, Nuremberg, Pomerania, ...
- Austria: Vienna, ...
- Italy: Merano (Meran)
- UK: Cumberland, Chiltern, Lincolnshire, Glamorgan ...
- Slovenia: Kranjska (klobasa), after the Slovenian name for the province of Carniola
- Spain: botifarra catalana, chorizo riojano, chorizo gallego, chorizo de Teror, longaniza de Aragón, morcilla de Burgos, morcilla de Ronda, morcilla extremeña, morcilla dulce canaria, llonganissa de Vic, fuet d'Olot, sobrassada mallorquina, botillo de León, llonganissa de Valencia, farinato de Salamanca, ...
- Poland: kielbasa krakowska (Kraków-style), toruńska (Toruń), żywiecka (Żywiec), bydgoska (Bydgoszcz), krotoszyńska (Krotoszyn), podwawelska (literally: "from under Wawel"), zielonogórska (Zielona Góra), rzeszowska (Rzeszów), śląska (Silesia), swojska, wiejska, jałowcowa, zwyczajna, polska, krajańska, szynkowa, parówkowa ...
- Hungary: kolbász gyulai (after the town of Gyula), csabai (after the city of Békéscsaba), Debrecener (after the city of Debrecen).
Many nations and regions have their own characteristic sausages, using meats and other ingredients native to the region and employed in traditional dishes.
ArgentinaIn Argentina many sausages are consumed. Eaten as part of the traditional asado, Chorizo (Meat and/or Pork, flavored with spices) and Morcilla (Blood Sausage or Black pudding) are the most popular. Both of them share a Spanish origin. A local type is the salchicha Argentina, criolla (Argentinian sausage) or parrillera (literally BBQ-style), made of the same ingredients as the Chorizo but thinner.
Vienna sausages are eaten as an appetizer or in hot dogs (called panchos) which are usually served with different sauces and salads.
The weisswurst is also a very common dish eaten usually with smashed potatoes or chucrut in some regions.
ChinaLap cheong (also lap chong, lap chung, lop chong). Dried pork sausages flavored with char siu that look and feel like pepperoni, but are much sweeter.
FranceSaucisson is perhaps one of the most popularized forms of dried sausage in France, with many different variations from region to region. Usually saucisson contains pork, cured with a mixture of salt, wine and/or spirits. Regional varieties have been known to contain more unorthodox ingredients such as nuts and fruits.
HungaryHungarian baked sausages are called "Kolbász". Rice Liver Sausage ("Májas") and Rice Blood Sausage ("Véres"). In the first case the main ingredient is the liver and the stuffing consist of rice. In the other case the blood is mixed with rice, or pieces of bread roll. Spices, pepper, salt and marjoram are added.
ItalyItalian sausages are often a mix of pork and veal. In the USA, these are defined as having a minimum of 85% meat, and must contain salt, pepper, and either fennel or anise.
GermanyGerman sausages, or wurst, cover a wide range of cooked, uncooked and unfilled styles (no casing), such as frankfurters, bratwurst, rindswurst, blargenwurst, knackwurst, and bockwurst.
German regions of Brazil
German Brazilian regions have many variations of the traditional German sausages, such as the schmia sausage (similar to Bregenwurst) and the Blumenau sausage (lingüiça Blumenau).
UK and IrelandIn the UK and Ireland sausages are very popular. These sausages are normally made from pork or beef mixed with a variety of herbs and spices, many recipes of which are traditionally associated with particular regions (for example Bucks bangers). They normally contain a certain amount of Rusk, or Bread-Rusk, and are traditionally cooked by frying, grilling or roasting prior to eating. Due to their habit of often exploding due to shrinkage of the tight skin during cooking, they are commonly referred to as bangers particularly when served with the most common accompaniment of mashed potatoes to form one the dishes called Bangers and Mash. (The designation banger is also said to have arisen during World War II, when scarcity of meat led many sausage makers to add water to the mixture, making it more likely to explode on heating.) They may also be baked in batter to create 'Toad in the Hole', often served with gravy and onions.
Famously, they are an essential component of both a Full English Breakfast, and are usually offered with an Irish breakfast.
In the UK alone there are believed to be over 470 different types of sausages; some made to traditional regional recipes such as those from Cumberland or Lincolnshire, and increasingly to modern recipes which combine fruit such as apples or apricots with the meat, or are influenced by European styles such as the Toulouse or Chorizo.
In many areas "sausage meat" for frying and stuffing into poultry and meat, is sold as slices cut from an oblong block of pressed meat without casing: in Scotland this is known as Lorne Sausage or often sliced or square while the usual form is sometimes called [sausage links].
A popular and widespread snack is the sausage roll made from sausage-meat rolled in puff pastry; they are sold from most bakeries and often made in the home.
Battered sausage, consisting of a sausage dipped in batter, and fried, is sold throughout Britain from Fish and Chip shops. In England, Saveloy is a type of pre-cooked sausage, larger than a typical hot-dog which is served hot. A saveloy skin was traditionally colored with bismark-brown dye giving saveloy a distinctive bright red color.
A short variety of sausage, known as the chipolata or 'cocktail sausage' is often wrapped in bacon and served alongside roast turkey at Christmas time, or served cold at children's parties throughout the year.
Due to health concerns over the quality of the meat contained in many commercially produced sausages (heightened by the BSE crisis in the 1990s) there has been a marked improvement in the quality of meat content in commonly available British sausages with a marked return to the artisanal production of high quality traditional recipes, which had previously been in decline. There are currently organisations in a number of UK counties such as Lincolnshire who are seeking European Protected designation of origin(PDO) for their sausages so that they can be made only in the appropriate region and to an attested recipe and quality.
MacedoniaMacedonian sausages (kabasa, lukanec) are made from fried pork, onions, and leeks, with herbs and spices.
Portugal, Spain and Brazil (in regions of Portuguese colonization)
Embutidos generally contains hashed meat, generally pork, seasoned with aromatic herbs or spices (pepper, red pepper, paprika, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, etc.)
ScandinaviaScandinavian sausages (Finnish: makkara, Danish and Norwegian: pølse, Icelandic: pylsa, Swedish: korv) are usually made of 60-75% very finely ground pork, very sparsely spiced with pepper, nutmeg, allspice or similar sweet spices (ground mustard seed, onion and sugar may also be added). Water, lard, rind, potato flour and soy or milk protein are often added for binding and filling.
Virtually all sausages will be industrially precooked and either fried or warmed in hot water by the consumer or at the hot dog stand. Since hot dog stands are ubiquitous in Denmark some people regard pølser one of the national dishes. The most noticeable aspect of Danish cooked sausages (never the fried ones) is that the cover often contains a traditional bright-red dye. They are also called wienerpølser and legend has it they originate from Vienna where it was once ordered that day-old sausages be dyed as a means of warning. The Swedish falukorv is a similarly red-dyed sausage, but about 5 cm thick, usually cut in slices and fried. Unlike ordinary sausages it is a typical home dish, not sold at hot dog stands. In Sweden sausages are often accompanied by potato mash rather than bread. In Iceland, lamb may be added to sausages, giving them a distinct taste. One local Finnish variety is mustamakkara, a "black sausage" prepared with blood, which is a specialty of Tampere.
Makkara is typically similar in appearance to Polish sausages or bratwursts, but have a very different taste and texture. Most makkara is very light on spices and is therefore frequently eaten with mustard, ketchup, or other table condiments without a bun. Makkara is usually grilled, roasted over coals, or cooked on sauna heating stones until the outer skin begins to darken and crack. A special kind of makkara is mustamakkara, a "Black sausage", which is a specialty of Tampere and its surroundings. It is very close to the Scottish black pudding.
When makkara is eaten inside a sliced, fried bun with cucumber salad, it becomes a porilainen after the town of Pori. Pickled makkara intended to consumed as slices is called kestomakkara. This class includes various mettwurst, salami and Balkanesque styles. The most popular kestomakkara in Finland is meetvursti, which contains finely ground full meat, ground fat and various spices. It is not unlike salami, but usually thicker and less salty.
South AfricaIn South Africa, traditional sausages are known as boerewors or farmer's sausage. Ingredients include game and beef, usually mixed with pork or lamb and with a high percentage of fat. Coriander and vinegar are the two most common seasoning ingredients, although many variations exist. The coarsely-ground nature of the mincemeat as well as the long continuous spiral of sausage are two of its recognisable qualities. Boerewors is traditionally cooked on a braai (barbecue).
Boerewors can be dried out in a dry-curing process similar to biltong, in which case it's called droë wors.
SwitzerlandThe cervelat, a cooked sausage, is often referred to as Switzerland's national sausage. A great number of regional sausage specialties exist as well.
The PhilippinesIn the Philippines, there are different kinds of sausages called "Longaniza" or "Longanisa" with mixes dependent on their size of origin: Vigan Longaniza, Lucban Longaniza are examples.
North AmericaNorth American breakfast or country sausage is made from uncooked ground pork mixed with pepper, sage, and other spices. It is usually sold in a large synthetic plastic casing, or in links which may have a protein casing. In some markets it is available sold by the pound without a casing. It is commonly sliced into small patties and pan-fried, or cooked and crumbled into scrambled eggs or gravy.
The frankfurter or hot dog is the most common sausage in the US and Canada.
Sucuk (pronounced tsudjuck or soudjouk or sujuk with accent on the last syllable) is a type of sausage made in Turkey and neighboring Balkan countries.
There are many types of sucuk, but it is mostly made from beef. It is fermented, spiced (with garlic and pepper) and filled in an inedible casing that needs to be peeled off before consuming. Slightly smoked sucuk is considered superior. The taste is spicy, salty and a little raw, similar to pepperoni. Some varieties are extremely hot and/or greasy. Some are "adulterated" with turkey, water buffalo meat, sheep fat or chicken.
There are many dishes made with sucuk, but grilled sucuk remains the most popular. Smoke dried varieties are consumed "raw" in sandwiches. An intestinal loop is one sucuk. Smoked sucuk is usually straight.
MaltaMaltese sausage zalzett tal-Malti is typically made of pork, sea salt, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, garlic and parsley.
Sausages may be served as hors d'oeuvre, in a sandwich, in a bread roll as a hot dog, wrapped in a tortilla, or as an ingredient in dishes such as stews and casseroles. It can be served on a stick (like the corn dog) or on a bone as well. Sausage without casing is called sausage meat and can be fried or used as stuffing for poultry, or for wrapping foods like Scotch eggs. Similarly, sausage meat encased in puff pastry is called a sausage roll.
Sausages can also be modified to use indigenous ingredients. Mexican styles add oregano and the "guajillo" red pepper to the Spanish chorizo to give it an even hotter spicy touch.
Certain sausages also contain ingredients such as cheese and apple; or types of vegetable.
Vegetarian sausageVegetarian and vegan sausages are also available in some countries, or can be made from scratch. These may be made from tofu, seitan, nuts, pulses, soya protein, vegetables or any combination of similar ingredients that will hold together during cooking. These sausages, like most meat-replacement products, generally fall into two camps: some are shaped, colored, flavored, etc. to replicate the taste and texture of meat as accurately as possible; others rely on spices and vegetables to lend their natural flavor to the product and no attempt is made to imitate meat.
wurst in Bulgarian: Наденица
wurst in Czech: Párek
wurst in Danish: Pølse
wurst in German: Wurst
wurst in Estonian: Vorst
wurst in Spanish: Salchicha
wurst in Esperanto: Kolbaso
wurst in French: Saucisse
wurst in Galician: Salchicha
wurst in Korean: 소시지
wurst in Croatian: Kobasica
wurst in Indonesian: Sosis
wurst in Italian: Salume
wurst in Hebrew: נקניק
wurst in Lithuanian: Dešra
wurst in Hungarian: Kolbász
wurst in Malay (macrolanguage): Sosej
wurst in Dutch: Worst
wurst in Japanese: ソーセージ
wurst in Norwegian: Pølse
wurst in Narom: Saûciche
wurst in Polish: Kiełbasa
wurst in Portuguese: Salsicha
wurst in Kölsch: Woosch
wurst in Russian: Колбаса
wurst in Simple English: Sausage
wurst in Slovenian: Klobasa
wurst in Serbian: Кобасица
wurst in Finnish: Makkara
wurst in Swedish: Korv
wurst in Thai: ไส้กรอก
wurst in Ukrainian: Ковбаса
wurst in Venetian: Luganega
wurst in Yiddish: װורשט
wurst in Chinese: 香腸