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Italian Sausage

The Italian sausage that is well known in Texas and the rest of the United States is the sausage variant that comes from Sicily in terms of flavor profile and spices used. The main spices used in Italian sausage are Salt, pepper, fennel, chili, sweet/purple basil, and parsley. While other spices may be added to the Italian sausage, the prominent spices should always be fennel and basil. The original Sicilian sausage uses coarser ground meat and higher levels of fat while the Americanized versions are usually using finely ground meat and lower fat levels.

Italian Sausage Trivia

  • In Italy, every region (or even town) has their own blend of spices for sausages and the rule of thumb is the further south you go, the spicier the sausage gets.
  • Italian Sausage in the USA has a much, much lower flavor punch than the original varieties found in Italy.
  • Italian sausage is traditionally made from pork shoulder.
  • There is no “Italian Sausage” in menus in Italy. It’s simply “Sausage.”

Italian Sausage Buying Guide

There are three types of Italian sausage being currently sold in groceries around the country. These are Sweet, Mild, and Hot Italian Sausage.

  • Sweet—Sweet Italian sausage has very little black pepper and no chili flakes in the mix, it may be reasonably sweet due to added sugar.
  • Mild—Mild Italian Sausage has no chili flakes, but it has a healthy amount of black pepper, giving it a mild spicy taste.
  • Hot—Hot Italian sausage has chili flakes on top of black pepper, giving it a nice hot and spicy bite.

As with any other processed meats, we recommend that you check out the ingredients tab to check for additives that you wouldn’t otherwise use in your own kitchen.

Italian Sausage Production & Farming in Texas

Commercially Produced Italian Sausage:

Commercially produced Italian sausage follows the practice of using various cuts of pork as long as it is edible. Preservatives and extenders are added to extend the shelf life of the sausage before being stuffed into the casings. Italian sausage isn’t typically cured, but some commercial producers will add curing salts to preserve the sausage and to prevent bacterial growth. Since various parts of the hog are used, as well as extenders, natural or artificial flavors may be added to “even out” the taste of the sausage.

Commercial Italian sausages can also come pre-cooked and pre-smoked.

Small Batch/Artisanal Italian Sausage Production:

Artisanal or Small batch Italian sausage producers will use pork shoulder and only pork shoulder, as this is the part that is used in traditional Italian sausage making. They are made in small batches and most of the time from just one or two hogs that they have raised and farmed themselves. Specialty butchers will also forego the use of any curing agent and chemical preservatives as Italian sausage is meant to be cooked after it is made.

Preservatives and Chemicals:

Raw Italian sausage has minimal preservatives and chemicals added to them, but their pre-cooked counterparts can contain BHA, propyl gallate, citric acid, monosodium phosphate, and dextrose. Italian sausage is pretty simple to cook, so we suggest that you avoid pre-cooked products that contain loads of preservatives and additives.

Packaging:

Pre-cooked commercially produced Italian sausages are vacuum-packed in plastic bags to protect them from contamination.

Raw commercial and artisanal Italian sausages are usually packed in rigid plastic trays and sealed in with thick cling film.

Enjoying Italian Sausages

Unless sold as cooked, Italian sausages have to be thoroughly cooked before consumption.

Storage:

Fresh Italian sausages from specialty butchers can stay good in the fridge for up to two days, and they can be frozen for up to two months.

For commercially produced Italian sausages, check the packaging for storage instructions as they might have different storage lives depending on the amount of preservatives used. But as a rule of thumb, store them as you would butcher-bought sausages.

Cooking:

Italian sausages can be cooked like any other sausage. They can be cooked on the grill, pan-fried, boiled, or microwave. The sausage can also be removed from the casings and used as a replacement for ground meat for a lot of other applications.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 149 7%
  • Carbs: 2.1g 1%
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g 0%
  • Protein: 16.1g 32%
  • Fat: 8.4g 13%
  • Saturated Fat: 3.3g 16%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 30mg 10%
  • Sodium 570mg 24%
  • Vitamin C 0.2mg 0%
  • Vitamin A 2IU 0%
  • Calcium 25mg 2%
  • Iron 1.2mg 7%
  • Potassium 194mg 6%
  • Vitamin B12 1mcg 17%
  • Vitamin B6 0.2mg 17%
  • Folate 4mcg 1%
  • Vitamin B6 60.2mg 9%
  • Magnesium 12mg 3%
  • Phosphorus 103mg 10%
  • Zinc 1.5mg 10%

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