History of Sausages

An Introduction

Sausages storm ahead as the number 1 ‘in-home meal’ in the UK, way ahead of the cheese or ham sandwich. Sausages make up 1720 meal occasions (inc. sandwiches sausages, sausage stews/casserole, pork & herb sausages, low-fat pork sausages, pork & beef sausages, beef sausage and other sausages). Sausages are considered a basic barbecue food; together with burgers, they are almost the staples of the occasion with other products added to this basic product.


Sausage is chopped meat, mostly beef or pork, seasoned with salt and spices and also mixed with cereal usually wheat rusk prepared from crumbed unleavened biscuits and traditionally stuffed in casings of prepared animal intestine. Casings may be intestine, paraffin-treated fabric bags, or synthetic sleeves of plastic or reconstituted collagen. All but dry (cured) sausages require refrigerated storage. Cooked and dry sausages are ready to eat; fresh (and frozen) sausages must be cooked. Sausages of fish or poultry are also made.

Dry sausage was born as a result of the discovery of new spices, which helped to enhance, flavour and preserve the meat. Different countries and different cities within those countries started producing their own distinctive types of sausage, both fresh and dry. These different types of sausage were mostly influenced by the availability of ingredients as well as the climate.

Some parts of the world with periods of cold climate, such as northern Europe were able to keep their fresh sausage without refrigeration, during the cold months. They also developed a process of smoking the sausage to help preserve the meat during the warmer months. The hotter climates in the south of Europe developed dry sausage, which did not need refrigeration at all.

Basically people living in particular areas developed their own types of sausage and that sausage became associated with the area. For example Bologna originated in the town of Bologna in Northern Italy, Lyons sausage from Lyons in France and Berliner sausage from Berlin in Germany.

A Brief Historical Background

The manufacture of sausages began over two thousand years ago, and it is still a growing industry. While some of its basic practices are almost as old as civilisation, the industry is constantly adopting new developments in processing in the light of later scientific and technical knowledge.

Sausage has been an important item in man’s diet for twenty centuries. The first recognisable mention of this meat food is found in a Greek play called “The Orya,” or “The Sausage,” written about 500 B.C. Thereafter the word for sausage occurs with frequency in Greek writings. It’s also a favourite food of the Romans, at one time becoming so popular for festive occasions that it was placed under the ban of the early church.

Sausages were probably first invented as a means of preserving blood, offal, and small scraps of meat in convenient edible containers—the stomachs and intestines of the slaughtered animal. The earliest known reference to sausage dates to Greece in the eighth or ninth century B.C.E. It appears in Homer’s Odyssey (XX : 24-27), where Odysseus, lying in his bed, is seen.

Rolling from side to side as a cook turns a sausage, big with blood and fat, at a scorching blaze, without a pause, to broil it quick.

They are also found in Apicius’s De re coquinaria (Rome, first century C.E.), a cookbook that was clearly intended for diners with discriminating palates. While sausages may have begun in frugality, they had already evolved into delicacies worthy of a gourmet’s attentions.

In form, sausages may be patties of freshly chopped and seasoned meat or they may be stuffed in casings, dried, fermented, smoked, or produced using any combination of these techniques. The meats can be ground exceedingly fine (weisswurst) or simply cut into large chunks (headcheese). Some are eaten cooked, using any of the traditional methods for cooking meats, while some are so heavily cured and smoked that they can safely be eaten raw (salame crudo).

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Certain Historical Facts

The history of the sausage starts at least 5,000 years ago in Sumeria (modern day Iraq).

By 900 BC sausages had become the popcorn of the ancient Greek theatre, available from sausage sellers in the aisles.

In 320 AD the Roman Emperor Constantinus I and the Catholic Church banned sausage eating because of links to pagan festivals! This led to sausages going underground until the ban was lifted.

The sausage was in trouble again nine hundred years ago. Emperor Leo V declared that sausage makers would be ‘severely scourged, smoothly shaved and banished from our realm forever’. It is not known what sausage sellers had done to cause such offence.

It was in the reign of Charles I that sausages were divided into links for the first time.

Apparently legendary highwayman, Dick Turpin, was known to moonlight as a butcher making sausages from the finest meats hunted in Epping Forest.

Sausages were nicknamed bangers during the Second World War because when they were fried they tended to explode with a bang!.

Henry V stated: ‘War without fire is as worthless as sausages without mustard’.

A number of sausage manufacturers hold a royal warrant and one sausage manufacturer in particular, holds of a royal warrant granted by Her Majesty the Queen, but has been a supplier firstly to King George V and latterly to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, so royal patronage has become part of the company’s heritage.

Little Trivia

The word sausage is derived from the Latin word salsus which means something salted.

Sausages are mentioned in The Odyssey which was written by Homer more than 2,700 years ago:

Queen Victoria was fond of sausages but insisted that the meat be hand chopped rather than minced.

Sausages were called bangers during the Second World War because they contained so much water they exploded when fried.

According to the Meat And Livestock Commission has identified 6 situations where we eat sausages:

  1. Barbecues
  2. Breakfast
  3. As Comfort Food
  4. For Children’s Meals
  5. Snacks
  6. The Lunch Box

They have also identified the emergence of a seventh which is described as “Satisfyingly Sophisticated”. This is where gourmet sausages are being used in ways which go beyond the traditional sausage & mash and toad in the hole dishes.


The word sausage, from the Latin salsus , which means salted or preserved. In the days of old people did not have refrigeration to preserve their meat.

Various forms of sausages were known in ancient Babylonia, Greece, and Rome; and early North American Indians made pemmican, a compressed dried meat-and-berry cake. From the Middle Ages, various European cities became known for the local sausage, with such types as the frankfurter (Frankfurt am Main), bologna (Bologna, Italy), and romano (Rome) being named for their places of origin. Salami (named for the salting process, salare, Italian: “to salt”) is a popular sausage with many varieties.

Types of Sausages

Chipolata – Sometimes also called “little fingers,” these tiny (2- to 3-inch-long), coarse-textured pork sausages are highly spiced with thyme, chives, coriander, cloves and sometimes hot red-pepper flakes. The French term à la chipolata refers to a garnish of chipolata, chestnuts and glazed vegetables used to accompany roasts.

Italian Sausage – It is a style of pork sausage which is noted for its seasoning of fennel and/or anise, containing at least 85% meat. Italian Sausage is made in sweet and hot styles. It is generally not cured, and is normally grilled and eaten with giardiniera or other vegetables. A less widely available variety of kielbasa, the White Fresh (biała), which is sold uncooked and unsmoked, then usually boiled or cooked is said to taste similar to Italian sausage.

Liverwurst – A broad term for “liver sausage” referring to well-seasoned, ready-to-eat sausage made from at least 30 percent pork liver mixed with pork or other meat. The texture of liverwurst can range from firm enough to slice to creamy-smooth and spreadable. Liverwurst (the most popular of which is braunschweiger) can be smoked or plain and comes in large links, loaves and slices. It’s typically served for snacks and sandwiches and is especially suited to rye breads.

Mortadella – A smoked Italian sausage made of ground pork and beef and cubes of pork fat, flavored with wine and spices.

Haggis – It is the Scottish national dish. Haggis is nothing more than a large sausage made of seasoned sheep organ meats and oats, stuffed in the sheep’s stomach.

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