There are a wide variety of different sausages available throughout the world, and they all fall into just a few basic categories. Sausage is primarily made with seasoned ground pork, although other meats may sometimes be used. This combination of meat and spices is categorized according to the amount of processing and includes fresh, smoked, and cured sausage. Some sausages have already been pre-cooked before reaching the market. These sausages are then further categorized according to flavor and type, such as breakfast sausage, hot dogs, or bologna.
Fresh sausage is made from raw meat and a combination of spices. This type of sausage needs to be refrigerated before use and cooked completely before serving. Sausage patties, breakfast links, and bratwursts are examples of fresh sausages. It is important to thoroughly cook fresh sausage and carefully clean any surfaces that come into contact with raw meat in order to avoid contamination and prevent food poisoning associated with raw or undercooked meat. Proper hand-washing techniques are also important when handling this type of sausage.
Smoked sausage is typically hung in a smoke house or placed in a smoker and is partially or completely cooked by the smoke that results from a well-controlled fire. The smoke helps to flavor the meat, and this type of sausage is a favorite at deli counters throughout the world. Kielbasa is a type of smoked sausage that requires further cooking before consumption. Ready-to-eat smoked sausages include andouille, hot dogs, and bologna.
Cured sausages are made from fresh meat and spices and then covered with salt. The meat is then allowed to air dry for a specified amount of time, usually several weeks. This process of curing essentially cooks the sausage over a period of time. Examples of cured sausages include salami, chorizo, and coppa. In some areas of the world, cured sausage is more commonly known as summer sausage due to the fact that it does not require refrigeration during the warmer months of the year.
Pre-cooked sausages can be made with fresh, smoked, or cured meat, and sometimes a combination of these methods may be employed. A pureed concoction of meat and spices is placed inside a sausage casing and then cooked appropriately, depending on the specific type of sausage. Some examples of pre-cooked sausages include frankfurters, mortadella, and bratwursts. While this type of sausage is often eaten straight from the package, it may also be cut up and cooked in other food dishes.