Pickled sausages are cooked meat sausages that have been soaked in a salty brine for several days. The sausages have a salty, sour and sometimes spicy flavor. Pickled sausages are soft and compact in texture, but when wrapped in a casing, they have a pop or crunch when bitten. This type of sausage can be made using a variety of sausages, including smoked beef sausage, Polish sausage or ring baloney. It can be made at home or found packaged at many convenience and grocery stores.
Pickling is a process that is used to cure food products for safe storage and later eating. It creates an inhospitable environment for the growth of food pathogens. Meat is among the more difficult products to pickle because it rots more quickly than other foods and is host to bacteria and other pathogens.
Using precooked meat for homemade pickled sausage is considered the safest practice. This reduces the chances of bacterial growth and food poisoning. It is why most pickled sausage recipes call for smoked or cooked sausages.
Many recipes for pickled sausages exist, and they use many similar ingredients. Commonly used ingredients are smoked or Polish sausage, a pickling brine consisting of vinegar and sugar or salt and strongly flavored ingredients to influence the final flavor of the pickled sausages. These strong flavors can come from ingredients such as onions, carrots, dill or garlic. Cayenne pepper or red pepper also can be used.
The sausages are put into a large jar with the brine and placed in a refrigerator for two to three days to pickle. The sausage is already cooked, so it can be eaten at any time before the two days have passed. Homemade pickled sausages usually are not shelf-stable and must be kept in a refrigerator. Many food packaging companies produce pickled meats and sausages in shelf-stable jars and plastic packaging. These products usually are good for several months before opening, but homemade pickled sausages must be eaten within a few days.
When making pickled sausages, some people prefer to place the jar of brine with sausages in a larger pot with water and heat it until the vinegar is boiling. This helps force more of the brine flavor into the sausages. Additionally, holes can be poked into sausages that have a casing before placing them into the brine. The casing tends to protect the meat from the brine, preventing the liquid from being absorbed. Poking holes in the casing allows the brine to reach the meat.