A meat product generally consisting of pork, but also made of beef, veal, lamb, poultry, or a combination of several of these meats. Sausage meat is generally ground, mixed with other ingredients, such as rice, cereal, soybean flour, or dried milk solids, and seasoned with herbs and spices. The meat is preserved with additives and made into fresh sausage to be processed for bulk use in the form of patties or molded into a casing to be sold as sausage links, sticks, and rings. The casing can be a natural casing made of animal intestines or an artificial casing. The meat is then cured, air-dried, or precooked.
There are two basic types of sausages: uncooked and ready to eat. Uncooked sausages include fresh and smoked sausages. Ready to eat sausages include cooked, semi-dry, and dry sausages. The following descriptions further explain some of the sausages that are available.
- Uncooked fresh sausage: meat that has not been cured or smoked and must be cooked prior to serving, which is sold as bulk, patties, or links. Uncooked fresh sausages include fresh Bockwurst, Bratwurst, fresh Pork Sausage, Italian-style fresh Pork Sausage, Salsiccia, Weisswurst, fresh Thuringer, and others.
- Uncooked smoked sausage: meat that has been cured or smoked, that requires cooking prior to serving. Country style smoked pork sausage, Linguica, Mettwurst, and Polish sausage are included in this category.
- Cooked Sausage: meat that has not been cured or smoked, but has been precooked. Blood sausage, cooked Bockwurst, Braunschweiger, cooked Bratwurst, Liver sausage, and cooked Thuringer are included in this group of sausages.
- Cooked smoked sausage: meat that has been cured, lightly smoked, and precooked. Bologna, Boterhamworst, Bratwurst, Frankfurters, Knackwurst, precooked varieties of Polish sausage, and Berliner or New England style sausage, Smokies, Vienna sausages, and Wieners are examples of this type of sausage.
- Dry sausage: meat that has been cured and air-dried, making it ready to serve either cold or warm. There are semi-dry and dry sausage categories. Semi-dry sausages are generally partially dried, but sufficiently heated to cook the sausage. Semi-dry sausages include Cervelat, Lebanon Bologna, Mortadella, and Vienna. Dry sausages can be smoked, unsmoked, or cooked, and include Chorizo, Frizzes, Lyons, Pepperoni, Salami, and Soppressata.
- There are also specialty sausage meats available, which are meats that have been cooked and processed into sticks or loaves for slicing, such as Beef Loaf, Goetta, Headcheese, Pickle and Pimento Loaf, and Scrapple.
Storage requirements will depend on the variety of sausage purchased. Fresh sausage will require refrigeration while many types of cooked or dry sausage can be kept at room temperature. It is always best to check with the provider to make sure the storage method is safe and best for preserving the flavor. To remove tight casings from dry sausages, make a surface slit through only the casing, cutting it lengthwise from end to end. Place the sausage under a faucet with warm running water, allowing the sausage to be immersed for 10 to 20 seconds. Using a paper towel, dry the sausage and then remove the entire casing as one piece, pulling it easily away from the meat.