Who Invented Sausage?

To find the inventor of sausage we need to go back a very long way in our history. In fact, the origin of sausages globally goes back to our earliest civilisations.

It's almost certain sausages were developed out of a need common to many early groups. How to prevent spoilage of precious meat?

Prior to the age of refrigeration, the answer was…SALT! Notably, almost every tribe, nation, and ethnic group have a deep history of preserving meat with salt. Evidence shows this going back over 4000 years, and perhaps to the dawn of civilisation itself.

Where does the word sausage come from?

The word, Sausage originates from the Latin for salt - Sal, also Salsus – salt. Thus, sau and sal syllables are used to describe a variety of foods where salt is the focus ingredient or element:

  • Saussiche, saucisse - Northern France

  • sausage - previously Sawsyge in 15th Century Briton

  • sauce

  • sauerkraut

  • salami

  • salumi.

Whereas, charcuterie is the art of curing and preserving pork, Salumi, though lesser-known, refers to all meats preserved with salt and is also where we get the word salami.

Mesopotamia - 2600BC

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

Ancient Greece Sausage Making

Ancient Greece - 725BC

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 - 400AD

Roman Butcher

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 - 725AD

Influences from overseas saw the emergence of regional specialties in 16th century Britain. Traditionally Cumberland sausages contain 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 allergens such as rusk, spelt, soya & wheat.

WWII: The Big Bang

Unsurprising then that perception of British sausage became one of popular ridicule. Thus giving rise to the term: British Banger - due to its tendency to explode. Skins would rupture due to pressure from absorbed water turning to steam. Unfortunately, as the country began recovery from post-war food rationing. Traditional sausage makers led by the now-dissolved Dewhurst’s chain saw an opportunity. Though, only natural that sausage makers wanted to maintain the margins they'd been used to. Hence, the inclusion of inflammatory cereal fillers was retained – who could blame them! Though this only meant further ridicule for our treasured sausage, giving rise to the less than complimentary phrase - There are 3 types of Bread; White, Brown, and sausages.

Alas, those fantastic recipes that had evolved since the Roman occupation now at risk of being forgotten. Though some evidence shows that bread had been used occasionally in sausage since the middle ages, it was out of necessity, a reserve of the poor in times of lack. In post-war Britain, the now infamous British bread sausage was born and here to stay – at least for a while!

Luckily, since the ’80s, the British Banger has seen something of a renaissance with small artisan producers rediscovering traditional recipes and introducing them back into local communities. Though progress was initially slow, due to the sheer volume of cheaper commodity sausages (mass-produced) flooding the UK market (driven primarily by consumer demand for cheaper food and shareholder dividends). Furthermore, there is no UK legislation to protect those original proper sausage recipes. Bread, wheat and cereal, 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 increasing awareness of health, well being and food intolerance.

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