Sausages on the whole are delicious. A sausage made from fresh tender meat blended with delicate natural seasonings can be fantastic taste combination however poorly made sausages on the other hand can taste bland and cheap. How do you know the difference?
Puddledub's guide to buying delicious sausages.
Here at Puddledub we spend a lot of time making, testing, sampling and discussing sausages. Our Puddledub sausages are hand made every Wednesday and we have been doing this for over 20 years now.
So we thought we'd pass on what we know so that you can go out and buy the best sausages you can.
What is the most popular sausage?
You can make sausages out of any kind meat but pork is by far the most popular, here in the UK.
What is in a Pork Sausage?
Pork sausages are made from minced meat, seasoning, a binding agent, water, and the casings.
The binding agent is usually a wheat based rusk or breadcrumbs and requires the sausage to have time to 'settle' after it is made before it is ready to be cooked.
This timing is important to the flavour and texture of the sausage to develop before cooking. For example all our sausages are hand-made on a Wednesday ready to to be home delivered to you on a Friday or sold at a Farmers Market on a Saturday. They are then ready to be cooked or popped into the fridge or freezer by our customers.
Gluten free sausages use a gluten free binding agent. Here at Puddledub we use pea and rice flakes for their texture and delicate flavour. Check the ingredients to see what is being used.
The casing is not always mentioned on the packaging but more about that later.
There are 4 key things to look for or think about when you are buying sausages:
1. Meat content
2. Meat quality
3. Casings and seasonings
4. When they were made
1. Sausage Meat Content
How much pork should be in a sausage?
Sausage meat content can vary from 50% right up to 96%.
Which tastes better depends to a certain extend on your taste buds and individual preference however as a general rule of thumb, the higher the meat content the leaner the sausage. Ideal if you are looking for a high protein diet but the texture of the lean sausages can become granular and dry in the mouth.
Likewise at the other end of the scale, too much fat in the meat used and the sausagemeat will be overly soft, greasy and the sausage will lack texture.
Tastes over time and the meat content has been increasing in recent years making sausages leaner and leaner.
The meat content % should always be stated on the packaging along with all the ingredients.
When you are looking at the ingredients on the sausage packaging, meat should always be listed first as the primary ingredient.
2. Sausage Meat Quality
Ideally your sausage should be made from whole cuts.
The cut used is important. Belly and shoulder are the most commonly used cuts in pork sausages. Here at Puddledub, we mainly use shoulder as we find this has good marbelling and a good mix of lean muscle tissue and fat, is not gristly, to generate a tasty and succulent sausage.
The texture of the filling is also key. Here at Puddledub we mince the sausagemeat twice to get a really tender sausage mix.
You should be able to get a good view of the sausage through the packaging to review the quality of the mix through colour and size of the pieces.
3. Casings and seasonings
Natural casings are made from lamb or pig gut and make a big difference when you bite into your cooked sausage.
Synthetic skins are now very common as they are cheaper and more robust, allowing sausages to be made by machines. This is something we have actively avoided here at Puddledub as we believe the machine-made sausages use skins that are too tough and chewy. You'll know what we mean on first bite!
You'll be able to tell if your sausages are machine made as they will be uniform in shape and size in the packet.
Casings also impact how full the sausage is. You want the sausage to be full but not too full as it's likely to split when cooking. This will mean juices escape and flavour will be lost.
When using natural casings, there is no need to prick or pierce the casing. Keep all the juices enclosed for flavour.
Air pockets will also cause your sausages to split so check that your sausages look firm and full.
Finally water is used in all sausages but again its a fine balance. Water is needed to bind the sausage filling together but too much will make the contents soft and soggy.
Look for natural seasonings rather than synthetic.
What seasonings are used in Pork Sausages?
Essentially the list is endless. Sausages are an ideal way of combining a mulitude of flavours. Our Ploughman sausages for example combine pork with pickle and cheese. (available on request).
Salt, pepper and nutmeg are all common in pork sausages.
Its worth finding out when and how often your butcher makes their own sausages.
As mentioned above, you want freshly made sausages that have had a day or 2 to settle.
Sausages should look soft, plump and with a gleam.
Like most fresh meat, sausages are suitable for home freezing. The better condition they go into the freezer, the better they will be when they come out. Follow manufacturer guidelines on defrosting. Don't cook your sausages from frozen.
Cooking your sausages
Sausages can be grilled, pan fried or oven baked. Avoid using a very high heat as this may burn the outside and leave the inside uncooked. Go for a medium heat over longer time to ensure your sausages are succulent but cooked through. The min core temperature should be 75 degrees centigrade.
Puddledub Pork Sausages
We take time and effort to make the very tastiest sausages we can. We've been making sausages with our homegrown pork for almost 20 years.
Unlike other farmers, selling our homegrown pork directly to our customers gives us the chance to find out what our customers enjoy about products and hone the Puddledub taste into something that you will remember.
We only use the freshest pork from our homegrown pigs, with never any trim, filler or fat cuts to ‘cheaply’ bulk them up.
For us, it’s not the percentage of meat but the meat cut we use which makes the difference.
We are proud of our homegrown pork and its natural flavour. This means we don’t need to add a lot of seasoning and ingredients to make our sausages stand out. What we do use, is carefully mixed with the meat. We only use subtle flavours that compliment the meat, as the idea isn’t to overpower it. Many of our most popular sausages recipes are still the ones that we started with over 20 years ago.
Our most popular sausages are 'Just a Plain Pork sausage' and 'Honey and Mustard'. Believe it or not Just a Plain pork sausage is seasoned simply with salt and pepper and that's it! Our Honey & Mustard is pork, real honey and mustard.
Tom Mitchell founded Puddledub with his sister Camilla in 1999 to start selling their homegrown Pork direct to customers via farmers markets. Their goal was to make bacon and sausages that people would remember for their taste and flavour. Passionately believing good welfare practices lead to great tasting meat as helped build Puddledub into a team of 18, including 4 family members, and established a reputation as one of Scotland’s finest bacon and pork producers.