Sausage is a meat product usually made from ground meat, often pork, beef, or poultry, along with salt, spices and other flavourings. Other ingredients such as grains or breadcrumbs may be included as fillers or extenders. Some sausages include other ingredients for flavour.
The word “sausage” can refer to the loose sausage meat, which can be formed into patties or stuffed into a skin. When referred to as “a sausage,” the product is usually cylindrical and encased in a skin.
Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made from intestine, but sometimes from synthetic materials. Sausages that are sold raw are cooked in many ways including :
- boiling and barbecuing.
- Some sausages are cooked during processing and the casing may then be removed.
Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying (often in association with fermentation or culturing, which can contribute to preservation), smoking, or freezing. Some cured or smoked sausages can be stored without refrigeration. Most fresh sausages must be refrigerated or frozen until they are cooked.
Sausages come in a huge range of national and regional varieties, which differ by their flavouring or spicing ingredients (garlic, peppers, wine, etc.), the meat(s) used in them and their manner of preparation.
A sausage consists of meat cut into pieces or ground, mixed with other ingredients, and filled into a casing. Ingredients may include a cheap starch filler such as breadcrumbs or grains, seasoning and flavourings such as spices, and sometimes others such as apple and leek.
The meat may be from any animal, but is often pork, beef or veal, or poultry. The lean meat-to-fat ratio depends upon the style and producer. The meat content as labelled may exceed 100%; which happens when the weight of meat 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 Asia and mainland Europe use no bread-based filler and include only meat (lean meat and fat) and flavorings.
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 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.
Sausages are emulsion-type products. They are composed of solid fat globules, dispersed in protein solution. The proteins function by coating the fat and stabilizing them in water.