PNG images: Sausage

A sausage is a cylindrical meat product usually made from ground meat, often pork, beef, or veal, along with salt, spices and other flavourings, and breadcrumbs, with a skin around it. Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made from intestine, but sometimes from synthetic materials. Sausages that are sold uncooked are usually cooked in many ways, including pan-frying, broiling and barbecuing. Some sausages are cookedduring processing and the casing may then be removed.

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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.

There is a huge range of national and regional varieties of sausages, which differ by their flavouring or spicing ingredients (garlic, peppers, wine, etc.), the meat(s) used in them and their manner of preparation.

Sausage making is an outcome of efficient butchery. Traditionally, sausage makers would salt various tissues and organs such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat to help preserve them. They would then stuff them into tubular casings made from the cleaned intestines of the animal, producing the characteristic cylindrical shape. Hence, sausages, puddings, and salami are among the oldest of prepared foods, whether cooked and eaten immediately or dried to varying degrees.

Early humans made the first sausages by stuffing roasted intestines into stomachs. The Greek poet Homer mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey, Epicharmus wrote a comedy titled The Sausage, and Aristophanes' play The Knights is about a sausage vendor who is elected leader. Evidence suggests that sausages were already popular both among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and most likely with the various tribes occupying the larger part of Europe.

The most famous sausage in ancient Italy was from Lucania (modern Basilicata) and was called lucanica, a name which lives on in a variety of modern sausages in the Mediterranean.[citation needed] During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, sausages were associated with the Lupercalia festival. Early in the 10th century during the Byzantine Empire, Leo VI the Wise outlawed the production of blood sausages following cases of food poisoning.

A sausage consists of meat, cut into pieces or ground, and filled into a casing, with other ingredients. Ingredients may include a cheap starch filler such as breadcrumbs, seasoning and flavourings such as spices, and sometimes others. The meat may be from any animal, but is often pork, beef, or veal. The lean meat-to-fat ratio is dependent upon the style and producer. Speciality sausages with other ingredients such as apple and leek are also made. The meat content as labelled may exceed 100%; this happens when the weight of meat used exceeds the total weight of the sausage after it has been made, sometimes including a drying process which reduces water content.

In some jurisdictions foods described as sausages must meet regulations governing their content. For example, in the United States The Department of Agriculture specifies that the fat content of different defined types of sausage may not exceed 30%, 35% or 50% by weight; some sausages may contain binders or extenders.

Many traditional styles of sausage from Asia and mainland Europe use no bread-based filler and include only meat (lean meat and fat) and flavourings. In the United Kingdom and other countries with English cuisine traditions, many sausages contain a significant proportion of bread and starch-based fillers, which may comprise 30% of ingredients. The filler used in many sausages helps them to keep their shape as they are cooked. As the meat contracts in the heat, the filler expands and absorbs moisture and fat from the meat.

When the food processing industry produces sausages for a low price point, almost any part of the animal can end up in sausages, varying from cheap, fatty specimens stuffed with meat blasted off the carcasses (mechanically recovered meat, MRM) and rusk. On the other hand, the finest quality contain only choice cuts of meat and seasoning. In Britain "meat" declared on labels could in the past include fat, connective tissue, and MRM; these ingredients may still be used, but must be labelled as such, and up to 10% water may be included without being labelled.

Sausages are emulsion-type products. They are composed of solid fat globules, dispersed in protein solution. The proteins function by coating the fat and stabilising them in water.

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