Sausages are a meat product usually made from ground meat, often pork, beef, or poultry, along with salt, spices and other flavourings. Other ingredients such as grains or breadcrumbs may be included as fillers or extenders. Some sausages include other ingredients for flavour.
Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying (often in association with fermentation or culturing, which can contribute to preservation), smoking, or freezing. Some cured or smoked sausages can be stored without refrigeration. Most fresh sausages must be refrigerated or frozen until they are cooked.
Traditionally, sausage casings were made of the cleaned intestines, or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings. Today, however, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose, or even plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages. Some forms of sausage, such as sliced sausage, are prepared without a casing. Additionally, luncheon meat and sausage meat are now available without casings in tin cans and jars.
Merguez is a red, spicy sausage from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, North Africa. It is also popular in France, Israel, and the German state of Saarland, where it is often grilled on a Schwenker. Merguez is made with lamb, beef, or a mixture of both. It can be flavored with a wide range of spices, such as sumac for tartness, and paprika, Cayenne pepper, or harissa, a hot chili paste that gives it a red color. It is stuffed into a lamb casing, rather than a pork casing. It is traditionally made fresh and eaten grilled or with couscous. Sun-dried merguez is used to add flavor to tagines. It is also eaten in sandwiches.
Although Japan is not traditionally known for beef, pork, venison, or even blood sausages, the Japanese do consume a fish-based log called kamaboko, which could be considered a type of sausage. Kamaboko is made with cured ground fish paste called surimi. It is usually shaped into half-moons on top of a small plank of wood and the outside dyed pink. When the kamaboko is cut into slices it appears to have an unmistakable pink rind which surrounds a white interior. It is often cut into thin slices and added to soups, salads, bento, and many other dishes as a garnish. In recent years, kamaboko has also entered the market as a snack food. Similar to the Slim Jim, cheese, sausage, and fish flavored kamaboko sticks can be found in convenience stores across Japan.
Famously, they are an essential component of a full English or Irish breakfast. Some are made to traditional regional recipes such as those from Cumberland or Lincolnshire and, increasingly, to modern recipes which combine fruit such as apples or apricots with the meat or are influenced by other European styles such as the Toulouse sausage or chorizo. Vegetarian sausages are also now very widely available, although traditional meatless recipes such as the Welsh Selsig Morgannwg also exist.
A Finnish speciality is ryynimakkara, a low-fat sausage which contains groats. Pickled makkara, intended to be consumed as slices, is called kestomakkara. This class includes various mettwurst, salami and Balkanesque styles. The most popular kestomakkara in Finland is meetvursti (etymologically this word comes from mettwurst), which contains finely ground full meat, ground fat and various spices. It is not unlike salami, but it is usually thicker and less salty. Meetvursti used to additionally contain horse meat, but hardly any brands contain it anymore, mostly due to the high cost of production. In general, there is no taboo against eating horse meat in Nordic countries, but its popularity has decreased with decreasing availability of suitable horse meat. There is also makkara and meetvursti with game, like deer, moose or reindeer meat. Even a lohimakkara, i.e., salmon sausage, exists. In Finland there are b- and a-classes of BBQ Sausages like Kabanossi, Camping and HK Sininen Lenkki, Blue Loop.
In most of Latin America, a few basic types of sausages are consumed, with slight regional variations on each recipe. These are chorizo (raw, rather than cured and dried like its Spanish namesake), longaniza (usually very similar to chorizo but longer and thinner), morcilla or relleno (blood sausage), and salchichas (often similar to hot dogs or Vienna sausages). Beef tends to be more predominant than in the pork-heavy Spanish equivalents.
Hot dogs, also known as frankfurters or wieners, are the most common pre-cooked sausage in the United States and Canada. Another popular variation is the corn dog, which is a hot dog that is deep fried in cornmeal batter and served on a stick. A common and popular regional sausage in New Jersey and surrounding areas is pork roll, usually thinly sliced and grilled as a breakfast meat.
Sausages are almost always fried in oil, served for any meal, particularly breakfast or lunch and often "sweet sausages" have been created which are made with any of the above: dried fruit, nuts, caramel and chocolate, bound with butter and sugar. These sweet sausages are refrigerated rather than fried and usually, however, served for dessert rather than as part of a savory course. Sausages can also be modified to use indigenous ingredients. Mexican styles add oregano and the guajillo red pepper to the Spanish chorizo to give it an even hotter spicy touch. Certain sausages also contain ingredients such as cheese and apple, or types of vegetable.