Types of Sausage
Sausage has been made for thousands of years, originally as a delicious means of preserving meat. Before refrigeration, salts and cures were added to meat to prevent it from spoiling. As time passed, new spices were added, as well as better sausage making techniques, that improved the quality and taste of sausage. We now have a wide variety of delicious sausages for all type of meats and occasions.
Sausage is made from ground meat, which is then mixed with salts, seasonings and spices, then stuffed into natural or synthetic casings. There are two basic kinds of sausage; fresh and cured.
Fresh sausage is made from ground meat and spices and is not cooked until just prior to serving. Fresh sausage will only keep fresh in the refrigerator for a few days, but it can be frozen for up to a year. Fresh sausage can either be stuffed into casings or formed into patties. Types of fresh sausage include breakfast sausage, Polish sausage, Italian Sausage, and bratwurst.
Cures sausage, like fresh sausage, cured sausage is also made from ground meat and spices, but cured sausage undergoes a curing process to prolong the shelf-life of the meat. For centuries, people have been curing meat by adding salts, drying meat, or fermenting meat. Today, public health practices require the use of nitrates or nitrites to make sure that dangerous microorganisms, like those that cause botulism, are destroyed.
Cured sausages are the most complicated of all sausages to make, as the curing/drying process has to be carefully controlled. After the cured sausage is made, it can be eaten right away, and will keep for very long periods under refrigeration. Some cured sausages don’t even need to be refrigerated.
Cured sausages are further divided as either semi-dry or dried sausages. Semi-dry sausages are cooked, either in boiling water or in a smokehouse, and can last for months in a refrigerator. Examples of semi-dry sausage are hot dogs, frankfurters, and summer sausage.
As the name implies, dried sausages are not cooked but rather are dried until they lose about 25% of their original weight. Examples of dried sausages include salami and pepperoni.
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