Sausages are prepared foods made from ground meat, animal fat, salt and spices all packaged within a casing. At one time the casing was made from animal intestines, but now they are made of synthetic, which is removed when the sausages are cooked. Sausages can be preserved by curing, smoking or by just drying them in cool air.
When butchering is done effectively, sausages are a logical outcome. The bits and pieces of meat left over from butchering an animal are not wasted, but are used to make the meat found in this food. They are among the oldest prepared foods that can be cooked and eaten right away. Today, just about every country in the world has its own flavor of sausage.
It is thought that the Sumerians who inhabited Iraq in ancient times were the inventors of this food. Chinese sausages were mentioned in 589 B.C., Homer spoke of them in the Odyssey and both the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed eating sausages. However, the Catholic Church banned the eating of sausages during the reign of Nero because eating this food was a part of the Lupercalia Festival, which the church also outlawed.
Sausages usually consist of bits of meat, usually pork, which have been cut into fine pieces or ground finely and filled into a casing. The ratio of meat and fat depends on the individual producer, but most sausages contain between 30% and 50% fat depending on the weight and style. In the US, fillers and extenders are not permitted for use in sausages and these are not used in most of Europe and Asia, either. In the UK, bread and starch fillers account of up to 25% of the ingredients. These help the sausages to maintain their shape as the meat is cooking.
There are different classifications of sausages:
- Cooked sausages – these are made from fresh meats and must be folly cooked. If they are not eaten right away, they must be refrigerated.
- Cooked and smoked sausages – these sausages are smoked after they are cooked and can be eaten hot or cold, but do need to be refrigerated.
- Fresh sausages – these are made from meats that have not been previously cured. They must be refrigerated and thoroughly cooked before eating.
- Fresh smoked sausages – Fresh sausages that have been smoked.
- Dry sausages – these are cooked and dried. They will last for a long time.
There are a number of vegetarian and vegan sausages available which are animal free, but very tasty, there are dried packet mixes and ready made sausages you can just cook up.