Sausages are versatile food that may be used in a number of dishes or served on their own. They are a staple everyday breakfast food but they can also be dressed up as part of special gatherings.
They come in many different types and flavors and can be found almost anywhere in the world, a testament to how popular and adaptable they are to different tastes and cultures.
What are these delightful delicacies made of?
What Is Sausage Made Of?
Sausage is typically made with ground pork but can also be made with beef, chicken, turkey, and other types of meat. It is flavored with herbs, spices, and seasonings and other ingredients may be added to enhance flavor and texture. It can be sold fresh, cooked, smoked, cured and fermented.
What Is Sausage?
Sausage is a type of meat product made with ground meat, typically pork, that is salted and seasoned with herbs and spices and stuffed into casings that are either natural or synthetic. While typically made with pure meat, it can be mixed in with other ingredients like grains and cereals.
They can be sold raw or cooked, dried or fermented, smoked or unsmoked. They can be baked, grilled, steamed, or fried, served and eaten on their own, or added to recipes to enhance their appeal and flavor.
There are many different kinds of sausages and almost every culture in the world would have its own variety and version of this beloved meat product.
Types of Sausage
In general, sausages can be classified into four categories.
1. Fresh Sausages
Fresh sausages are sausages that are raw and need to be fully cooked before consuming. They are flavored and seasoned and may contain preservatives and fillers but they need to be safely cooked to proper temperatures and properly stored as you would any raw meat.
They are designed to be cooked right away or consumed within a few days or stored in the freezer for later use.
Examples of fresh sausage are Italian Sausage, Breakfast Sausage and most types of Bratwursts.
Read: How Long Do You Boil Bratwurst
2. Cooked Sausages
Sausage can also be pre-cooked prior to packaging and selling. The meat may or may not be cooked prior to stuffing in the casings, but is definitely fully cooked right after.
They are ready to eat but it is still advised to heat them prior to consumption to avoid the risk of a food-borne illness, especially for those with weakened immune systems.
Examples of pre-cooked sausages are hotdogs, Frankfurters, and Bologna. Cooked sausages are delicious when grilled or pan-fried.
3. Smoked Sausages
Smoking is primarily done to add flavor to the meat; however, it also helps somewhat with food preservation.
There are two types of smoking:
- Hot Smoking – done between temperatures of 140°F and 180°F, this type of smoking fully cooks the meat while imparting the desired smoked flavor to it.
- Cold Smoking – usually done hand in hand with curing or drying meat, cold smoking adds depth and flavor to cured meat and adds an extra layer of protection against bacterial contamination. It is usually done between the temperatures of 30°F to 85°F. The longer it is done, the richer the smoked flavor of the meat is. Cold smoking alone does not fully cook the meat though, nor does it fully protect it from contamination. It is important to be careful and check how to safely prepare them.
Smoked sausages are either cooked or uncooked, cured or uncured.
It is important to check the packaging or ask your butcher for specific instructions as to how to prepare them. Do not just assume that it is ready to eat just because it is smoked. Doing this ensures you avoid contracting any food-borne illnesses.
Examples of smoked sausages are andouille, kielbasa, and Portuguese chourico.
4. Dried Sausages
These types of sausages are cured, fermented, dried and are ready to eat. They are not cooked in the sense that they are heated to make them safe for consumption, rather they are cured and “cooked” with salt and ingredients that ferment, remove moisture from the meat and make it safe to eat.
Making sausages in this way is a precise art form, and is tied to rich cultural traditions. Dried sausages may or may not be cold smoked. Examples of dry sausages are Spanish chorizo and salami.
Popular Kinds of Sausages
Many different kinds of sausage exist all over the world, with ingredients and flavors that reflect the tastes and heritage of that particular culture.
In the U.S., we are attached to very specific ones.
Some of the most popular types of sausage in the U.S. include:
Cured, fermented, smoked, and dried, this type of sausage originated from Spain and has many regional ingredient variations, and has offshoots in Mexico, Latin America, and other countries with Hispanic influence. Its main components are pork, paprika or pimenton, and garlic.
Mexican chorizo, unlike Spanish chorizo, is sold fresh, and thus requires cooking before it can be consumed.
Pork is the more common meat used but chorizo made from other meats exists as well. Rather than Spanish paprika, it is made with local chili peppers.
It is typically spicier than its Spanish counterpart and is a common filling for tacos, burritos, and other types of dishes.
If you are curious about chorizo, you may check out Chourico vs Chorizo – The Interesting Difference.
2. Cajun Andouille
Brought to the U.S. by French immigrants and influenced by the unique heritage and cooking know-how of the people that settled on the German Coast of Louisiana, Cajun andouille is a smokey, spicy sausage made from pork, seasonings, chili, herbs, and spices. It is an essential ingredient in dishes like Jambalaya and Gumbo.
Cajun andouille is different from traditional French andouille, which is made specifically from pig chitterlings stuffed into intestine casings.
Kielbasa sausage has its origins in Poland. In the U.S., kielbasa is a U-shaped sausage usually made with pork or sometimes, beef, that is predominantly flavored with garlic and marjoram, and then smoked. It is versatile and can be baked, grilled, sauteed, and boiled. It is typically served with sauerkraut.
Bratwurst is a German sausage made with pork, but can be made with lamb or veal. Also known as “Brats”, they are typically flavored with herbs and spices like marjoram, mace, ginger, nutmeg, and caraway.
Bratwurst can be sold fresh or smoked, cured or uncured. It may look unimpressive but its flavor shines when it is grilled. It is a popular choice for barbecues and cookouts.
Pepperoni is a type of American salami that is cured and dried with the dominant flavor of paprika and chilis. When uncooked, it is bright red in color. It is made from pork and beef and is the most well-loved pizza topping in the country. As with all cured sausages, pepperoni may be consumed raw. (Read: Can You Eat Pepperoni Raw)
Also known as “baloney”, this American sausage is a derivative of the Italian sausage known as mortadella. While mortadella would have visible pork fat, U.S. regulations require the meat of American Bologna to be finely ground.
It can be made with a combination of meat like pork, beef, chicken, or turkey and it can be flavored with black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, and celery seed. It is a cooked and smoked sausage.
7. Italian Sausage
Italian sausage is a fresh sausage with the prominent flavor of fennel or anise. Despite its name, it has almost nothing to do with Italy and is purely an American sausage.
It can be mild or hot with the addition of cayenne pepper or sweet with the addition of sweet basil. It is delicious when fried or grilled.
8. Frankfurter or Hotdog
The frankfurter was brought to the U.S. by German immigrants and became an integral part of American culture.
Hotdog sandwiches sold on the street and in sports events may be made with “franks” as they are sometimes called. It is cured, smoked, and cooked and may be made with a mixture of pork and beef or all beef.
The term frankfurter may sometimes be used interchangeably with the common hotdog, which is generally considered as a low-quality type of sausage as it is typically made from a mixture of ground meat trimmings and fillers, and added water.
They are hugely popular though and are a staple in many households.
Is Sausage Healthy?
Sausage is typically not the first food that you would think of when you want to eat healthy.
Most commercially produced and packaged sausages are highly processed and may contain high amounts of sodium and preservatives that when consumed in big amounts, may lead to serious health issues. Aside from that, the meats used are not guaranteed to be of high quality.
That doesn’t mean, though that you should swear off eating sausages forever. There are places that make their sausages using high-quality meat and only use real and natural ingredients in their products.
They do not add fillers or preservatives and make sure that you get to experience the real deal. Choosing brands like this can help you enjoy sausage in a healthier way.
Making your own sausage can also be a way to make consuming sausage healthier. Making your own allows you to control the kind of ingredients that goes into your sausage, and affords you the opportunity to choose healthier cuts of meat and choose healthier ingredients to add to it.
Just make sure to follow recipe instructions and safety procedures correctly especially if you wish to go into curing your own meats.
Sausage does not have to be an unhealthy choice. When consumed in moderation and when carefully chosen, it can be consumed in moderation, on a health-promoting diet.
Frequently Asked Questions to What Is Sausage Made Of?
What Is Sausage Skin Made Of?
Sausage casing can be made from cleaned animal intestines or made from synthetic or artificial casings.
Is Sausage Made From Pig?
Depending on the type of sausage, it can be made from pork, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, or other types of animal meat, or a combination of any of those meats. Certain sausages will also add grain or cereal fillers.
Conclusion to What Is Sausage Made Of?
Depending on the type of sausage, it can be made with pork, beef, chicken, turkey, veal, lamb, or any combination of those meats.
Because sausage is such a versatile food, many different versions exist pretty much in all cultures. The specific flavors and ingredients used to make sausages often reflect the tastes and ingredients predominant in the type of cuisine.