Sausages can be classified into three basic groups:
A fresh sausage, by USDA definition,is one that contains no nitrates or nitrites. It is basically a mixture of ground meat, seasonings, and flavorings. Although they are often raw, fresh sausages may contain cooked ingredients, or they may even be fully cooked before being sold. Any fresh raw sausage containing pork, of course, must be fully cooked before being served and eaten.
A cured sausage is one that contains nitrites or nitrates of sodium.These chemicals help prevent spoilage and food-borne disease, as explained in the first part of this chapter. Incidentally, they also keep the meat red or pink, even when cooked. Cured sausages may be sold raw or cooked, soft and moist like fresh sausages, semidried and firm, or dried and hard like salami. Pork salamis, which are Italian in origin, and similar cured, dried sausages are raw, but the curing, aging, and drying process renders them safe to eat.As explained on page 826, air-dried sausages that are intended to be eaten raw are made with nitrates in addition to nitrites for a longer lasting cure.
Smoked sausages may be hot smoked and, therefore, cooked, or cold smoked. Smoking may be light or heavy, depending on the sausage. Sausages, like other smoked meats, are cured before being smoked.The cure mixture is mixed directly with the sausage meat.
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