The beef sausage is a sausage made out of… you guessed it, beef! Sausage making was the result of efficient butchery. This method of food preservation was developed to reduce waste, making use of every bit of scrap meat available to help preserve them and make them edible. It has only been in recent times when gourmet sausages, like beef sausages, have come to light. Artisanal sausage makers have started to use prime cuts of meat to make sausages that are tastier and more luxurious than their humble beginnings.
Beef Sausage Trivia
- “The Knights” by Aristophanes was the first play to mention sausages, this was performed in 424 BC and this was about a leader who was formerly a sausage vendor.
- Sausages were banned in Rome in the 4th century as it was associated with sinful pagan activities.
- In 2019, more than $6.2 Billion was spent by Americans on hotdogs and sausages.
- There was a ban on sausages in World War I as cow intestines were used to make the gas bags for the German Zeppelins.
Beef Sausage Buying Guide
First thing you should check when going for store-bought beef sausage is the packaging. The packaging should still be vacuum sealed and have no leaks or tears that might affect its freshness. It should also be chilled or frozen to make sure that the contents haven’t spoiled.
After making sure that the packaging is intact, check the ingredients for any allergens or additives that you need to avoid. Here are some ingredients to look out for if you’re sensitive to them.
- Gluten—Some sausages contain wheat flour as a binder or extender
- TVP/Textured Vegetable Protein—Check for these ingredients if you have a soy sensitivity. These are usually used as extenders.
- Sulphur Dioxide—This is usually used in commercial sausage preparations as a preservative and may induce asthma in people sensitive to it.
Depending on your need, beef sausages may also be available in cooked and uncooked form. Cooked beef sausages are usually baked and smoked before packing, giving them a longer shelf life but may be less juicy than their raw counterparts.
Beef Sausage Production & Farming in Texas
Commercial Beef Sausage Production:
Unless specified in the packaging that the beef sausage uses a specific part the cow, commercially produced beef sausage contains trimmings from every part of the cow. From tongue, ears, meat shavings, trimmings, cheeks, and every conceivable piece of meat that can’t be sold as a separate product is added into the ground beef mix that goes into the beef sausages. Not only that, but up to 20% of the meat content can be MDM or mechanically deboned meat, or the infamous “Pink Slime.” This mixture is then seasoned with their spice and seasoning mix as well as preservatives and antibacterial agents to prevent bacterial growth with the use of MDM and other trimmings.
The mixture is then filled into synthetic casings to ensure an even shape and size for all the products and then cooked/smoked to ensure that it is sterile and safe to consume.
Artisanal/Small Batch Beef Sausage Production:
Artisanal beef sausage producers or specialty butchers will always indicate the cut of meat that is used for their sausage. Beef sausage can be made from beef chuck, round, sirloin, brisket, short plate, or flank. This distinction makes it attractive to consumers to know that they are in fact consuming quality meats in their sausages and not just parts of a cow made into a sausage.
The casings used can either be natural or synthetic. Artisanal beef sausages can also be either sold raw/cured or smoked.
Small batch beef sausage production can use no preservatives, or at the very least, the minimum required by law to prevent botulism and other food-borne diseases.
Preservatives and Chemicals:
The most common forms of preservatives and chemicals found in commercial beef sausage production are sodium phosphate, sodium nitrite, sodium lactate, sodium erythorbate, and sodium diacetate. For more information on what these preservatives are, check the Beef Brisket Sausage section on our Texas Real food promptuary.
In addition to preservatives, commercially produced beef sausages can contain flavor additives to enhance the flavor, food colorings, and other chemicals to make them more attractive and shelf stable.
Both commercially produced and small batch beef sausages are packed in vacuum-sealed bags to prevent contamination and to ensure maximum storage life.
Enjoying Beef Sausages
While most beef sausage products are cooked and are ready to eat out of the pack, it is a good idea to heat them to 165 degrees first to kill off any food-borne contaminants.
Unopened beef sausages (cooked) can be stored in the fridge for up to a month, and in the freezer for up to six months. For unopened raw beef sausages, it is best to store them in the freezer to maximize storage time.
For opened beef sausage packages (cooked), you can store them inside the fridge for up to a week, just make sure to re-cook them thoroughly before consuming. They can also be stored in the freezer for up to two weeks, just make sure to transfer them to a clean freezer-safe container before freezing.
Beef Sausages, both cooked and uncooked, are best reheated on the grill to add that smoky flavor that goes really well with sausages. They can also be cooked/reheated in a pan on the stovetop, just make sure that raw sausages are cooked all the way through before consuming.
Do not heat sausages in the microwave as they might pop or explode due to their moisture getting superheated inside.