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A sausage is a food usually made from ground meat with a skin around it. Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made from intestine, but sometimes synthetic. Some sausages are cooked during processing and the casing may be removed after.
Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying, or smoking.
Sausage making is a logical outcome of efficient butchery. Traditionally, sausage makers would salt various tissues and organs such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat to help preserve them. They would then stuff them into tubular casings made from the cleaned intestines of the animal, producing the characteristic cylindrical shape. Hence, sausages, puddings, and salami are among the oldest of prepared foods, whether cooked and eaten immediately or dried to varying degrees.
Early humans made the first sausages by stuffing roasted intestines into stomachs. The Greek poet Homer mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey, Epicharmus wrote a comedy titled The Sausage, and Aristophanes' play The Knights is about a sausage-vendor who is elected leader. Evidence suggests that sausages were already popular both among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and most likely with the various tribes occupying the larger part of Europe.
The most famous sausage in ancient Italy was from Lucania (modern Basilicata) and was called lucanica, a name which lives on in a variety of modern sausages in the Mediterranean. During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, sausages were associated with the Lupercalia festival. Early in the 10th century during the Byzantine Empire, Leo VI the Wise outlawed the production of blood sausages following cases of food poisoning.
The word sausage is derived from Old French saussiche, from the Latin word salsus meaning "salted".
Pâté is a similar product made of cooked and minced meat. See also, terrine.
Traditionally, sausage casings were made of the cleaned intestines, or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings. Today, however, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose, or even plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages. Some forms of sausage, such as sliced sausage, are prepared without a casing. Additionally, luncheon meat and sausage meat are now available without casings in tin cans and jars.
A sausage consists of meat, cut into pieces or ground, and filled into a casing, with other ingredients. Ingredients may include a cheap starch filler such as breadcrumbs, seasoning and flavourings such as spices, and sometimes others. The meat may be from any animal, but often is pork, beef, or veal. The lean meat-to-fat ratio is dependent upon the style and producer. Speciality sausages with other ingredients such as apple and leek are also made. The meat content as labelled may exceed 100%; this happens when the weight of meat used exceeds the total weight of the sausage after it has been made, sometimes including a drying process which reduces water content.
In some jurisdictions foods described as sausages must meet regulations governing their content. For example, in the United States The Department of Agriculture specifies that the fat content of different defined types of sausage may not exceed 30%, 35% or 50% by weight; some sausages may contain binders or extenders.
Many traditional styles of sausage from Europe and Asia use no bread-based filler and include only meat (lean meat and fat) and flavourings. In the United Kingdom and other countries with English cuisine traditions, many sausages contain a significant proportion of bread and starch-based fillers, which may comprise 30% 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, the filler expands and absorbs moisture and fat from the meat.
When the food processing industry produces sausages to a price, almost any part of the animal can end up in sausages, varying from cheap, fatty specimens stuffed with meat blasted off the carcasses (mechanically recovered meat, MRM) and rusk, while the finest quality contain only meat and seasoning. In Britain "meat" declared on labels could in the past include fat, connective tissue, and MRM; these ingredients may still be used, but must be labelled as such, and up to 10% water may be included without being labelled.
Sausages classification is subject to regional differences of opinion. Various metrics such as types of ingredients, consistency, and preparation are used. In the English-speaking world, the following distinction between fresh, cooked, and dry sausages seems to be more or less accepted:
The distinct flavour of some sausages is due to fermentation by Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, or Micrococcus (added as starter cultures) or natural flora during curing.
Other countries use different systems of classification. Germany, for instance, which produces more than 1200 types of sausage, distinguishes raw, cooked and precooked sausages.
In Italy, the basic distinctions are:
The United States has a particular shelf stable type called pickled sausages, commonly sold in establishments such as gas stations and delicatessens. These are usually smoked or boiled sausages of a highly processed hot dog or kielbasa style plunged into a boiling brine of vinegar, salt, spices, and often a pink colouring, then canned in Mason jars. They are usually packaged in single blister packs or jars.
Many nations and regions have their own characteristic sausages, using meats and other ingredients native to the region and employed in traditional dishes.
Droë wors is an uncooked sausage similar to boerewors made in a dry-curing process similar to biltong.
A local variant of the hot dog is the "Wors roll", or boerewors roll. This is a hotdog bun with a piece of boerewors in, served with a tomato and onion relish called seshebo. Seshebo can include chilli, atchaar or curries, depending on the area within the country.
A European-style smoked savoury hóng cháng (red sausage) is produced in Harbin, China's northernmost major city. It is similar to Lithuanian and Polish sausages including kiełbasa and podhalańska, and tends to have a more European flavour than other Chinese sausages. This kind of sausage was first produced in a Russian-capitalized factory named Churin sausage factory in 1909. Harbin-style sausage has become popular in China, especially in northern regions.
Lap cheong (also lap chong, lap chung, lop chong) are dried pork sausages that look and feel like pepperoni, but are much sweeter. In southwestern China, sausages are flavoured with salt, red pepper and wild pepper. People often cure sausages by smoking and air drying.
While longganisa is widely accepted as the term for native sausages, in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao chorizo (Visayan: tsoriso) is a more common term. There are regional varieties such as Vigan (with lots of garlic and not sweet) and Lucban (lots of oregano and pork fat is chunky). Most longganisas contain Prague powder and are hardly smoked and usually sold fresh. In general there are several common variants:
There are many varieties of sausages known to Thai cuisine, some of which are specialities of a specific region of Thailand. From northern Thailand comes sai ua, a grilled minced pork sausage flavoured with curry paste and fresh herbs. Another grilled sausage is called sai krok Isan, a fermented sausage with a distinctive slightly sour taste from northeastern Thailand (the region also known as Isan). Both sausages are commonly eaten with sticky rice, fresh vegetables, and a fresh nam phrik (Thai chilli paste) or some raw bird's eye chillies. They might also be served together with a refreshing Thai salad such as som tum (green papaya salad).
Also very popular in Thailand is naem, a raw fermented pork sausage similar to the Vietnamese nem chua and Laotian som moo. This variety of sausage is often encountered as yam naem and naem khluk, both of which are Thai salads. Adopted from Vietnam comes mu yo. It is somewhat similar in taste and texture to liverwurst and, served with a nam chim (Thai dipping sauce), a popular snack in Thailand. It too can be used as an ingredient for Thai salads and as a meat ingredient in, for instance, Thai soups. Kun chiang is a dry and sweet Chinese sausage which has also been incorporated into the Thai culinary culture. Known as lap cheong by Cantonese, in Thailand it is most often used, again, as an ingredient for a Thai salad, yam kun chiang, one that is normally only eaten together with khao tom kui, a plain rice congee. A host of modern, factory-made, sausages have become popular as snacks in recent years. These most often resemble hot-dogs and frankfurters and are commonly sold grilled or deep-fried at street stalls, and served with a sweet, sticky and slightly spicy soy-based sauce.
In Turkey, sausage is known as sosis, which is made of beef.
Sucuk (pronounced tsudjuck 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.
Britain and Ireland
In the UK and Ireland, sausages are a very popular and common feature of the national diet and popular culture.
British sausages and Irish sausages are normally made from raw (i.e., uncooked, uncured, unsmoked) pork, beef, venison or other meats mixed with a variety of herbs and spices and cereals, many recipes of which are traditionally associated with particular regions (for example Cumberland sausages). They normally contain a certain amount of rusk or bread-rusk, and are traditionally cooked by frying, grilling or baking. They are most typically 10–15 cm long, the filling compressed by twisting the casing into concatenated "links" into the sausage skin, traditionally made from the prepared intestine of the slaughtered animal; most commonly a pig.
Due to their habit of often exploding due to shrinkage of the tight skin during cooking, they are often referred to as bangers, particularly when served with the most common accompaniment of mashed potatoes to form a bi-national dish known as bangers and mash. (The earliest documented use of the designation banger is from October 1918, in a letter sent home by a British soldier from the front line in World War I. It is often said to have been popularized in 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.) There are currently organizations in a number of UK counties, such as Lincolnshire, which 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.
Famously, they are an essential component of a full English or Irish breakfast. Some are 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 other European styles such as the Toulouse sausage or chorizo. Vegetarian sausages are also now very widely available, although traditional meatless recipes such as the Welsh Selsig Morgannwg also exist.
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 at home.
Sausages may be baked in a Yorkshire pudding batter to create "toad in the hole", often served with gravy and onions or cooked with other ingredients in a sausage casserole.
In most areas, "sausage meat" for frying and stuffing into poultry or other meats is sold as ground, spiced meat without casing.
Battered sausage, consisting of a sausage dipped in batter, and fried, is sold throughout Britain from Fish and Chip shops. In England, the saveloy is a type of pre-cooked beef sausage, larger than a typical hot-dog, which is served hot. A saveloy skin was traditionally coloured with bismarck-brown dye giving saveloy a distinctive bright red colour. Saveloys are free of pork, and may be kosher and eaten by Jews.
A thin variety of sausage, known as the chipolata is often wrapped in bacon and served alongside roast turkey at Christmas time and are known as Pigs in a Blanket or "Pigs in Blankets". They are also served cold at children's parties throughout the year. The word derives from the Italian "cipolatta", "onioned" or made with onion, although its meaning has been forgotten and it need not contain onion.
Black pudding, white pudding and Hog's pudding are fairly similar to their Scottish and European counterparts.
Following concerns about health and user preference (distaste for horsemeat), heightened by the BSE crisis in the 1990s and the 2013 horsemeat scandal, the quality of the meat content in many British sausages improved with a return to the artisanal production of high quality traditional recipes, which had previously been in decline. However, many cheaper sausages contain mechanically recovered meat or meat slurry, which must be so listed on packaging.
There are various laws concerning the meat content of sausages in the UK. The minimum meat content to be labelled Pork Sausages is 42% (30% for other types of meat sausages), although to be classed as meat, the Pork can contain 30% fat and 25% connective tissue. Often the cheapest supermarket pork sausages do not have the necessary meat content to be described as "pork sausages" and are simply labelled "sausages"; with even less meat content they are described as "bangers" (an unregulated name). These typically contain MRM which was previously included in meat content, but under later EU law cannot be so described.
Lukanka is a spicy salami sausage unique to Bulgarian cuisine. It is similar to sujuk, but often stronger flavoured.
Croatia / Serbia
Finnish makkara is typically similar in appearance to Polish sausages or bratwursts, but have a very different taste and texture. Nakki is a tinier edition of makkara. There is a variety of different nakkis varying almost as much as different types of makkara. The closest relative to nakki is the thin knackwurst.
Most makkara has very little spice and is therefore frequently eaten with mustard, ketchup, or other table condiments without a bun. Makkara is usually grilled, roasted over coals or open fire, steamed (called höyrymakkara) or cooked on sauna heating stones. Siskonmakkara, a finely ground light-coloured sausage is usually encountered in the form of soup, siskonmakkarakeitto.
One Finnish variety is mustamakkara, lit. black sausage. Mustamakkara is prepared with blood and it is a specialty of Tampere. It is similar to the Scottish black pudding.
When a steak made out of thick (diameter about 10 cm (3.9 in)) makkara is prepared inside a sliced, fried bun with cucumber salad and other fillings, it becomes a porilainen after the town of Pori.
Another Finnish speciality is ryynimakkara, a low-fat sausage which contains groats.
Pickled makkara intended to be consumed as slices is called kestomakkara. This class includes various mettwurst, salami and Balkanesque styles. The most popular kestomakkara in Finland is meetvursti (etymologically this word comes from mettwurst), which contains finely ground full meat, ground fat and various spices. It is not unlike salami, but usually thicker and less salty. Meetvursti used to additionally contain horse meat, but only a few brands contain it anymore, mostly due to the high cost of production. In general, there is no taboo against eating horse meat in Nordic countries, but the popularity has decreased with decreasing availability of suitable horse meat. There is also makkara and meetvursti with game, like deer, moose or reindeer meat. Even a lohimakkara, i.e., salmon sausage, exists.
In Finland there are b- and a-classes of BBQ Sausages like Kabanossi, Camping and HK Sininen Lenkki, Blue Loop.
France and Belgium
Saucisson 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 sometimes contain more unorthodox ingredients such as nuts and fruits. Other French sausages include the diot and various types of boudin.
German sausages include Würste Frankfurters/Wieners, Bratwürste, Rindswürste, Knackwürste, and Bockwürste. Currywurst, a dish of sausages with curry sauce, is a popular fast food in Germany.
Nordic sausages (Danish: pølse, Norwegian: pølsa/pølse/pylsa/korv/kurv, Icelandic: bjúga/pylsa/grjúpán/sperðill, Swedish: korv) are usually made of 60–80% 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 starch flour and soy or milk protein are often added for binding and filling. In southern Norway, grill and wiener sausages are often wrapped in a potato lompe, a kind of lefse.
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 (known as Pølsevogn) some people regard pølser as one of the national dishes, perhaps along with medisterpølse, a fried, finely ground pork and bacon sausage. The most noticeable aspect of Danish boiled 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 baked in the oven coated in mustard or cut in slices and fried. Unlike ordinary sausages it is a typical home dish, not sold at hot dog stands. Other Swedish sausages include prinskorv, fläskkorv, köttkorv (sv) and isterband; all of these, in addition to falukorv, are often accompanied by potato mash or rotmos (a root vegetable mash) rather than bread. In Iceland, lamb may be added to sausages, giving them a distinct taste. Horse sausage and mutton sausage are also traditional foods in Iceland, although their popularity is waning. Liver sausage, which has been compared to haggis, and blood sausage are also a common foodstuff in Iceland.
Polish sausages, kiełbasa, come in a wide range of styles such as swojska, krajańska, szynkowa, biała, śląska, krakowska, podhalańska, kishka and others. Sausages in Poland are generally made of pork, rarely beef. Sausages with low meat content and additions like soy protein, potato flour or water binding additions are regarded as of low quality. Because of climate conditions, sausages were traditionally preserved by smoking, rather than drying, like in Mediterranean countries.
Since the 14th century, Poland excelled in the production of sausages, thanks in part to the royal hunting excursions across virgin forests with game delivered as gifts to friendly noble families and religious hierarchy across the country. The extended list of beneficiaries of such diplomatic generosity included city magistrates, academy professors, voivodes, szlachta and kapituła. Usually the raw meat was delivered in winter, but the processed meat, throughout the rest of the year. With regard to varieties, early Italian, French and German influences played a role. Meat commonly preserved in fat and by smoking was mentioned by historian Jan Długosz in his annals:Annales seu cronici incliti regni Poloniae The Annales covered events from 965 to 1480, with mention of the hunting castle in Niepołomice along with King Władysław sending game to Queen Zofia from Niepołomice Forest, the most popular hunting ground for the Polish royalty beginning in the 13th century.
Portugal and Brazil
Among the cured sausages are found products like chorizo, salchichón, and sobrasada.
Blood sausage, morcilla, is found in both cured and fresh varieties. They are made with pork meat and blood, usually adding rice, garlic, paprika and other spices. There are many regional variations, and in general they are either fried or cooked in cocidos.
Fresh sausage may be red or white. Red sausages contain paprika (pimentón in Spanish) and are usually fried; they can also contain other spices such as garlic, pepper or thyme. The most popular type of red sausage is perhaps txistorra, a thin and long paprika sausage originating in Navarre. White sausages do not contain paprika and can be fried, boiled in wine, or, more rarely, in water.
The cervelat, a cooked sausage, is often referred to as Switzerland's national sausage. A great number of regional sausage specialties exist as well.
Isterband is made of pork, barley groats and potato and is lightly smoked.
Argentina and Uruguay
There are hundreds of salami-style sausages. Very popular is the salame tandilero, from the city of Tandil. Other types include longaniza, cantimpalo and soppressata.
Vienna sausages are eaten as an appetizer or in hot dogs (called panchos), which are usually served with different sauces and salads.
Leberwurst is usually found in every market.
Weisswurst is also a common dish in some regions, eaten usually with mashed potatoes or chucrut (sauerkraut).
Another traditional sausage is the prieta, the Chilean version of blood sausage, generally known elsewhere in Latin America as morcilla. In Chile, it contains onions, spices and sometimes walnut or rice and is usually eaten at asados or accompanied by simple boiled potatoes. It sometimes has a very thick skin so is cut open lengthwise before eating.
"Vienesa"s or Vienna sausages are also very common and are mainly used in the completo, the Chilean version of the hot dog.
A grilled chorizo served with a buttered arepa is one of the most common street foods in Colombia. Butifarras Soledeñas are sausages from Soledad, Atlántico, Colombia.
In addition to the standard Latin American sausages, dried pork sausages are served cold as a snack, often to accompany beer drinking. These include cábanos (salty, short, thin, and served individually), butifarras (of Catalan origin; spicier, shorter, fatter and moister than cábanos, often eaten raw, sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice) and salchichón (a long, thin and heavily processed sausage served in slices).
The most common Mexican sausage by far is chorizo. It is fresh and usually deep red in colour (in most of the rest of Latin America, chorizo is uncoloured and coarsely chopped). Some chorizo is so loose that it spills out of its casing as soon as it is cut; this crumbled chorizo is a popular filling for torta sandwiches, eggs, breakfast burritos and tacos. Salchichas, longaniza (a long, thin, lightly spiced, coarse chopped pork sausage), moronga (a type of blood pudding) and head cheese are also widely consumed.
North American breakfast or country sausage is made from uncooked ground pork mixed with pepper, sage, and other spices. It is widely sold in grocery stores in a large synthetic plastic casing, or in links which may have a protein casing. It is also available sold by the pound without a casing. It can often be found on a smaller scale in rural regions, especially in southern states, where it is either in fresh patties or in links with either natural or synthetic casings as well as smoked. This sausage is most similar to English-style sausages and has been made in the United States since colonial days. It is commonly sliced into small patties and pan-fried, or cooked and crumbled into scrambled eggs or gravy. Scrapple is a pork-based breakfast meat that originated in the Mid-Atlantic States. Other uncooked sausages are available in certain regions in link form, including Italian, bratwurst, chorizo, and linguica.
In Louisiana, there is a variety of sausage that is unique to its heritage, a variant of andouille. Unlike the original variety native to Northern France, Louisiana andouille has evolved to be made mainly of pork butt, not tripe, and tends to be spicy with a flavour far too strong for the mustard sauce that traditionally accompanies French andouille: prior to casing, the meat is heavily spiced with cayenne and black pepper. The variety from Louisiana is known as Tasso ham and is often a staple of both Cajun and Creole cooking. Traditionally it is smoked over pecan wood or sugar cane as a final step before being ready to eat. In Cajun cuisine, boudin is also popular.
The frankfurter or hot dog is the most common pre-cooked sausage in the United States and Canada. If proper terminology is observed in manufacture and marketing (it often is not), "frankfurters" are more mildly seasoned, "hot dogs" more robustly so. Another popular variation is the corn dog, which is a hot dog that is deep fried in cornmeal batter and served on a stick.
A common and very popular regional sausage in the Trenton, New Jersey and Philadelphia, PA areas is pork roll.
Other popular ready-to-eat sausages, often eaten in sandwiches, include salami, American-style bologna, Lebanon bologna, prasky, liverwurst, and head cheese. Pepperoni and Italian crumbles are popular pizza toppings.
Australian sausages have traditionally been made with beef, pork and chicken, while recently game meats such as kangaroo have been used that typically have much less fat.
English style sausages, known colloquially as "snags", come in two varieties: thin, that resemble an English 'breakfast' sausage, and thick, known as 'Merryland' in South Australia. These types of sausage are popular at barbecues, and can be purchased from any butcher or supermarket.
Devon is a spiced pork sausage similar to Bologna sausage and Gelbwurst. It is usually made in a large diameter, and often thinly sliced and eaten cold in sandwiches.
Mettwurst and other German-style sausages are highly popular in South Australia, often made in towns like Hahndorf and Tanunda, due to the large German immigration to the state during early settlement. Mettwurst is usually sliced, and eaten cold on sandwiches or alone as a snack.
A local variation on cabanossi, developed by Italian migrants after World War II using local cuts of meat, is a popular snack at parties.
The Don small goods company developed a spiced snack-style sausage based on the cabanossi in 1991 called Twiggy Sticks.
Sausages may be served as hors d'œuvres, 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 are almost always fried in oil, served for any meal, particularly breakfast or lunch and often "sweet sausages" have been created which are made with any of the above: dried fruit, nuts, caramel and chocolate, bound with butter and sugar. These sweet sausages are refrigerated rather than fried and usually, however, served for dessert rather than as part of a savoury course.
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.
While not vegetarian, the soya sausage was invented 1916 in Germany. First known as Kölner Wurst ("Cologne Sausage") by later German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967).
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