Sausages are typically made of chopped or ground meats, seasoned with herbs, spices, and other flavorings. The seasoned meat is then stuffed into casings, formed into patties, or packaged in bulk. Sausages can be made and sold fresh or preserved by drying, salting, smoking, and pre-cooking. Dry sausages are often hard (like salami or chorizo); pre-cooked or smoked sausages are typically soft, like frankfurters or bologna.
Pork sausages are most popular, but just about any meat (or combination of meats) can be turned into sausage, including beef, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, veal, and venison. Salmon and other seafood sausages are gaining popularity, as are vegetarian sausages.
Sausages are eaten as links or patties and crumbled onto omelets or egg scrambles for breakfast. They are eaten whole in sandwiches and sliced or crumbled onto pizzas for lunch. At dinner, sausages are added to stuffings, casseroles, stews, paellas, gumbos, pastas, and other dishes. They are tossed whole onto the grill or skillet, slipped under the broiler, or poached in hot water.
People have been making sausages for millennia. It’s conceivable that the first sausages were made by hunter and gatherers as a way to carry away and preserve meat taken during the hunt. But for centuries, sausage making was a way to preserve as much meat as possible. The word “sausage” comes from salsus, the Latin word for “salted.”