The Case for Sausage

Kielbasa7; Photo Credit: Mariuszjbie with permission under Creative Commons License 3.0,

Kielbasa7; Photo Credit: Mariuszjbie with permission under Creative Commons License 3.0,

You know that old saying, “Don’t ask how the sausage is made”? Well, I’m throwing caution to the wind and we’re going to dig in to the various kinds of sausages. Let’s also find out why some sausages can hang up in the window of the butcher shop and some have to be kept cold. Who hasn’t wondered about those summer sausages you used to buy dad for Christmas?

Traditional sausage making in Hungary with animal intestine, Photo Credit: László Szalai from Wikimedia Commons

Basics & Background
Ground meat and casing are the basics; everything else distinguishes types. Going back to the origins of sausage, which is like sausage itself—a bit difficult to determine how it happened if you weren’t there. What we do know and what we can logically conclude is that sausage-making is all about efficiency. After killing an animal and processing all the readily usable parts, the remnants would be stored in the earliest known Ziploc, AKA intestines. Check out this page for some interesting history, like the mention of sausage in The Odyssey.

 “there are some goats’ paunches down at the fire, which we have filled with blood and fat, and set aside for supper; he who is victorious and proves himself to be the better man shall have his pick of the lot” . –The Odyssey, Book XXVIII

Outside: Casings material varies and includes cleaned intestines and stomachs, as well as modern collagencellulose, or plastic. Some sausage, called loose, bulk or just sausage meat is sold without casing.

Inside: Ground or finely cut meat goes in the casing, along with fillers, seasoning and spices When most of us think of sausage, we’re thinking of the pork sausage, but beef, veel, turkey, chicken, deer and even veggies can be used. Specialties like boudin and haggis technically qualify as a kind of sausage, but that’s up for discussion. What goes in and how it’s treated before and after determines the type of sausage (and if we leave it on the shelf or put it in the freezer).

Thanin market chiang mai sausage


Thanks for this, Wikipedia:

  • 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 dogsBraunschweiger, and liver sausage.
  • 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. Some are slow cooked while smoking, in which case the process takes several days or longer, such as the case for Gyulai kolbász.
  • Fresh sausages are made from meats that have not been previously cured. They must be refrigerated and thoroughly cooked before eating. Examples include BoereworsItalian pork sausagesiskonmakkara, and breakfast sausage.
  • Fresh smoked sausages are fresh sausages that are smoked and cured. They do not normally require refrigeration and do not require any further cooking before eating. Examples include Mettwurst and Teewurst which are meat preparations packed in sausage casing but squeezed out of it (just like any other spread from a tube).
  • Dry sausages are cured sausages that are fermented and dried. Some are smoked as well at the beginning of the drying process. They are generally eaten cold and will keep for a long time. Examples include salamiDroë wors, FinnishmeetvurstiSucukLandjäger (smoked), Slim Jim, and summer sausage.
  • Bulk sausage, or sometimes sausage meat, refers to raw, ground, spiced meat, usually sold without any casing.
  • Vegetarian sausage are made without meat, for example, based on soya protein or tofu, with herbs and spices. Some vegetarian sausages are not necessarily vegan, and may contain ingredients such as eggs.

As usual, this isn’t the full story–we didn’t even broach a discussion of Vienna sausages in a can–but this is a great primer and hopefully a nice welcome to the grilling and picnic season.

Next week we’ll check out some of the fresh sausage from Firsthand Foods I bought at Summerfield Farms and see how they cook-up on the grill.

Firsthand Foods Sausages

There’s also a handy poster you send away for here, provided by the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, naturally.

One response to “The Case for Sausage

  1. Pingback: Cooking Sausage | Pineapples on Trees·

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