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Brief History of Sausage

Sausage History, Yum!

Ancient butcher and sausage maker in Roman reliefThe manufacture of sausages began over two thousand years ago. The first recognizable mention of sausage is found in a Greek play called "The Orya," or "The Sausage," written about 500 B.C. Thereafter the word for sausage occurs fairly often in Greek writings. While some of its basic practices are almost as old as civilization, the industry is constantly adopting new developments in processing in the light of scientific and technical advancements.

Roman with sausages on a stick for barbequeingIt was a favorite food of the Romans. During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, sausages were associated with the Lupercalia festival, possibly the oldest festival known. Early in the 10th century during the Byzantine Empire, Leo VI the Wise outlawed the production of blood sausages following cases of food poisoning, possibly the oldest food law. 

The modern word "sausage" comes from Old French "saussiche", which is derived from the Latin word "salsus" meaning "salted". The term was probably used to describe just about any type of salted or cured meat. Sausage making and curing meats was a way for people to preserve meats before the time of refrigeration. As its popularity spread and the techniques improved certain parts of the world developed recipes and techniques specific to their region.

Dry sausages were made as a result of the discovery of new spices, which helped to enhance, flavor 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 regional climate.

Medieval smoked sausageIn Northern Europe and other regions with colder climates they were able to keep their fresh sausage without refrigeration, during the cold months. They also discovered smoking the sausage to help preserve the meat during the warmer months and they also discovered it was delicious. We are not sure which came first but happy it worked out. The warmer regions in the south of Europe developed dry sausage, which did not need refrigeration at all.

Basic sausage consists of meat, cut into pieces or ground, and stuffed into a casing. Sausage can be made from any animal, but traditionally is pork, beef, or veal. The amount of fat found in any particular sausage depends on the type and region it is made. In the U.S. fat content is legally limited to a maximum of 30%, 35% or 50% by weight depending on which style of sausage is being produced. Also in the U.S., The United States Dept. of Agriculture Middle Ages sausage makingdefines the content for various sausages and typically prohibits fillers and extenders. Most traditional European and Asian styles of sausage  use no bread based fillers and are 100% meat and fat excluding flavorings. In the United Kingdom bread and starch based fillers can account for up to 25% of the ingredients. Bread and starch based fillers help the sausage to retain their shape as the meat contracts when exposed to heat but the fillers expand as they absorb fat and moisture from the cooking meat.

Sausage is a wonderful and ancient food and comes in many, many flavores and styles. Randolph Packing Co. preserves traditional recipes as closely as possible to be able to offer a quality old-world style sausage.

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