British Sausage

– A (troubled) history –

British sausages have a long history, though the origin of sausage globally goes back even further. The first sausages were developed as a result of a problem present in almost every culture – How to prevent spoilage of precious meat, prior to the age of refrigeration. Back then the answer was…SALT! Notably, almost every tribe, nation and ethnic group have a deep history of sausage making. Some dating back over 4000 years to the dawn of civilisation itself.

Did you know…

  • The English word, Sausage originates from the Latin; Salsicius – meaning seasoned with salt & also Salsus – salted. Similarly, this later become Saussiche in Northern France and Sawsyge in 15th century Britain.
  • Charcuterie is the art of curing and preserving meat and includes sausage making.



Salted meat stuffed into cleaned animal intestines is the first documented evidence of sausage making.

ancient-sausage-making-before British-sausage

Ancient Greece



Most noteworthy in Homer’s Odyssey we read an early description of Black Pudding making: “When a man beside a great fire has filled a great stomach (goat) with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it roasted”

Roman Britain


Ancient Britains were introduced to sausage making by the Romans who were accomplished sausage makers. the Romans made sausage with pepper & exotic spices added to Pork, Beef, Mutton, Goat and even Fish. Likewise Lucanian or Luganega sausages were a staple of the Roman army and are still popular today.


The Tudors



Influences from overseas saw the emergence of regional specialties in 16th century Britain. Traditionally Cumberland sausages conta 98% finely chopped pork and seasoned with salt, black pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, thyme and sage. These days, the current PGI allows for as little as 80% pork and the addition of allergenic ingredients such as rusk, spelt, soya or wheat.

Britain – The Big Banger(er)


During and immediately after the war food rationing meant that meat was scarce for UK civilians. British sausage suffered as a result with butchers overcoming the lack of meat by introducing bread and water to replace the missing meat. They became the subject of much ridicule – with families nicknaming them a ‘sweet mystery of life’, or simply ‘firewood sausages’ – to reflect the questionable content.  In fact most containing so much bread & water the resulting steam caused them to explode on cooking – hence the term ‘Banger’. Unsurprisingly replacing meat with bread and other fillers meant greater profits for the manufacturers. 


Did you know…

There is no UK legislation to protect those original proper sausage recipes. Furthermore bread, wheat and later soya, legumes & chemical additives have become synonymous with British Sausage.


In spite of this, the prospects for great sausage in the UK is looking somewhat brighter due to an increasing awareness of health, well being and food intolerance.


Read…British Sausage (Proper Sausage) Part 2


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