History of Sausage Making

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By Nordan J. Lunde
Sausage Meister, Dakota Sausage Kitchen

The origin of sausage making dates back in history to a time and place of domestication and agriculture in the Near East. As soon as mankind was able to achieve a regular surplus of meat, we began to look for ways to preserve it. Cutting up scraps of meat, salting and sealing it in casings made from the intestines and other organs of animals was one of the first discoveries of early pastoralist. The pig, which was the main source of most sausages, was domesticated about 5000 BC in Egypt and China, and pig-raising spread quickly throughout the Near East, Europe, and Asia.

The word "sausage" is derived from the Latin work "salsus" meaning salted, or preserved meat. It is a matter of record that sausages of various kinds were popular with the people of all classes in Rome at the time of the Caesuras.

Sausages were virtually found in every region of Europe by the middle ages and sausage making became an art practiced commercially by individuals in many localities. Most sausages were locally developed based upon climatic condition that had to be overcome in order to preserve meats.

Fundamentally, all sausage is comminuted (chopped or ground) meat. The earliest sausage makers used spices, herbs, drying, and smoking methods that were native to their area to develop certain types of sausages. Later, spices were imported from the Orient that opened up the way to new levels of culinary achievement.

Spices were highly valued in ancient times and the tremendous expense of outfitting caravans and fleets, caused spices from the Far East to be costly and to be regarded as a luxury. Often tribute of spices were paid to conquering armies so they would leave that country or city. Easy access to spices was one of the major motivators for the voyage that Columbus made to find a newer and safer route to the East Indies.

The art of sausage making has developed gradually from the simple process of salting and drying meats in order to preserve what could not be consumed at once, to the modern processed meat industry.

The American public today can select from literally hundreds of commercial products, but with a greater amount of research can find a wide variety of sausage recipes at their fingertips. We are including some recipes in our Web Site, and will change them from time to time, for you to try the art of sausage making at home.

Making sausage at home is not difficult or complicated. It can be a lot of family fun and is more enjoyable when you invite some friends over to help. The enjoyment and fun of tasting, frying up samples and trying new types of sausage will far out weight the work involved with making the sausage.

Some of the basic rules for making excellent sausage are:

  1. Fresh as possible meats
  2. Sausage needs fat for juiciness and flavor
  3. Fresh spices are essential to make fine sausage
  4. Store finished sausage properly
  5. Be very sanitary with meat and equipment
  6. The colder the meat the better the sausage

Cooked or Smoked Sausage

Smoked sausage is divided into two classifications: The style which it is smoked and left and uncooked; and that which is both smoked and cooked

Uncooked smoked sausages include smoked country style sausage, kielbasa, and Italian pork and wild game sausages. All such sausages must be cooked before serving.

Cooked smoked sausage like Frankfurters, Knockwurst, and some Bologna are examples of the style of sausage. Not all of these sausages need to be cooked before serving.

Cooked sausages are mostly prepared from fresh meats, with or without cure. They are thoroughly cooked and ready to serve. Smoking, may or may not be used. This group of sausages includes: Liver sausage, Bratwurst, and Bockwurst. The consumer should be careful to refrigerate it before use and cook it thoroughly before using.

Dry sausages can be classified into two general types: Dry and Semi-dry. Both of these may be considered as "summer" style product. All of these sausages are fermented depending on the presence of lactic acid for its characteristic tangy flavor. The principal dry sausage products are either salamis or cervelats.

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