Let's talk SAUSAGES! - what's in them? How many butchers in Frome?
By LoveFrome | Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 12:05
How much pork is in your sausages? Are cheap sausages more fatty than expensive ones? What is in a 'value' sausage? What about butchers sausages, are they better quality? How much do they cost?
Butchers at the Co-op
Butcher in Co-op
According to the BBC website sausages are "Typically a mixture of minced, ground or chopped meat that is seasoned and stuffed into a casing. The casing is traditionally made from animals' intestines – sheeps' intestines for small sausages such as chipolatas, pigs' intestines and ox intestines for larger sausages."
I checked out what I could buy online from Tesco; their pork content, their fat content and compared prices. Here is the result;
Tesco have over 33 different sausages available, (some were the same type but different pack size). They range in pork content from 37% to 97%, and in price from £1.39 per kg ('Everyday') to £9.20 per kg (ie. over six and a half times more per kg).
The lowest pork content were in Richmond sausages, (apart from a slight anomaly with the very lowest which was, surprisingly the Tesco brand 'Free range pork' (more of that later)). Richmond had 42% & 43% pork content at the relatively high cost of £5.30 - £8.46 per kg. The 213g pack of Richmond Irish sausages were the most expensive. The cost of Richmond 'large' sausages is 393% of the cheapest Tesco sausage which costs £1.38 per kg - congratulations for the 'Everyday', which is 50% pork.
This cheapest sausage consists of "Pork (50%),Water, Rusk, Semolina, Salt, Stabilisers (Tetrasodium Diphosphate),Ground Spices, Preservative (Sodium Metabisulphite), Sage,Yeast Extract, Spice And Herb Extract, Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid), - Rusk contains: Wheat Flour, Salt, Raising Agent (Ammonium Bicarbonate), Filled into a beef collagen casing". whew.
Rusk, incidentally is a wheat-based granular filler which many would argue is needed to make good sausages with the right texture.
The 'Free range pork' sausages with a pork content of only 37% actually has other ingredients when you read the label (do I recall a whole TV programme about this?) - these are; Pork (37%), Water, Pork Heart, Rusk, Pork Fat, Bacon, Semolina, Salt, Emulsifier (Disodium Diphosphate),White Pepper, Preservative (Sodium Metabisulphite), Sage, Yeast Extract, Spice And Herb Extract, Anti Oxidant (Ascorbic Acid), Rusk contains: Wheat Flour, Salt, Bacon contains: Pork Belly, Water, Salt, Preservative (Sodium Nitrite, Potassium Nitrate), Anti Oxidant (Sodium Ascorbate), Filled into Beef Collagen Casing, bbttl:
So its seems that the hidden meat ingredients of "Pork Heart, Pork Fat & Bacon" aren't added in to the pork %, so if you are OK with heart then this could be the sausage for you!
Mid range pork content comes in the 'Butchers' range, which contain 72% 'British Pork', generally with added semolina rather than potato starch. These cost £3.96 - £5.50 per kg (407% of the 'everyday').
High range pork content comes from the specialist end with 'Finest traditional' at 85% pork, 'Jimmy's free range' at 90% pork & 'Debbie & Andrew 97%'. The cost of each of these is £6.59, £8.31 & £6.40 per kg - so if you want a high pork content then Debbie & Andrews look like good value.
The mid-cost sausages vary widely in their % of pork from 42% to 76% so are well worth checking. For fat content, the lowest in this mid-range is 'Weightwatchers' at 3% fat. More on fat content in a moment, to round up the cost section, the most expensive sausage is the 'Organic pork' at £9.20 per kg (or 681% of the 'Everyday'). It contains 88% 'British Free Range Organic Pork' & organic breadcrumb instead of rusk. The butcher I consulted said that all sausages used to use breadcrumb before rusk came along as a product. Also in this upper range of prices is the 'Finest pork & chives' at £7.48 per kg but a high fat content at 27% (fat per g, grilled).
So, on to fat content, highest fat content (after grilling) are the organic pork (29% fat & 88% pork), Finest (27% fat & 88% pork), Walls Classic (25% fat & 65% pork) & Richmond Irish (22% fat and 43% pork). At the bottom end are the Weight watcher brand (3% fat & 65% pork), followed by the Butchers half-fat (8% fat & 66% pork), the Everyday (11%) & 'Britsh pork' (12% fat & 61% pork).
NB. Weightwatchers sausages contain; Pork (65%), Water, Breadcrumbs (Wheat Flour, Yeast, Salt), Potato Starch, Pork Gelatine, Salt, Onion, Stabilisers: Sodium Diphosphate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate: Onion Powder, Ground Spice (Nutmeg, Coriander, White Pepper), Dried Sage, Fresh Sage,Yeast Extract, Preservative: Sodium Metabisulphite ,Antioxidant: Sodium Ascorbate, Filled into beef protein casings.
So what of traditional butchers sausages? I asked Derek from Penleigh Farm butchers in the Westway Co-op. He said that their sausages contain belly pork (you can buy this from him at £5.89 per kg by the way) & rusk, with an 85% pork content. They cost £7.59 per kg or £8.99 for chipolatas. This puts them in the upper mid-range at 562% of the cost of the 'Everyday' and around the same as the 'Finest' range. I bought a chunk of Valentines rib-eye from him as it was on special offer at £18.99 per kg (cheaper than Tesco!)
Recommendations? I'm planning a blind taste test! Any volunteers?
Did you know: The word sausage comes from the Middle English sausige, which came from sal, Latin for salt. In France they are sausissons and in Germany, wurst. In practice for over a millenia sausage-making was originally a method used to preserve meats, especially lesser cuts.
Today, sausage-making has become an art. More than 200 different varieties of sausage are made in the United States alone, and thousands more worldwide, varying by regional tastes and ingredient availability. Hot dogs are popular in the United States, sausage is the ultimate Finnish fast food, and seafood sausages are popular in Asia.
photo 1 by hobbit