A QUICK meal maker, sausages have plenty of finger-lickin’ flavour.
In summer, they are ideal for barbecues, in sandwiches for picnics, or added to a green salad for an easy supper, with lots of grilled tomatoes mixed in.
I like them with mashed potatoes and salad, or cooked in pasta sauce, or hot dog style with bread rolls.
Keep some handy in the freezer for emergencies. Better than any frozen pizza.
We can expect saturated fats in sausages, even lean ones, and some preservatives if they are in supermarkets and have a shelf life.
Watch sensitivity to sulphites.
Most people are not sensitive to them, but for those who are prone to skin rashes, it’s worth watching labels of all kinds.
For this week’s survey, I bought only in supermarkets. However, farmers’ markets are a terrific source.
Don’t miss the Schull Sunday morning one where the Fergusons of Gubbeen have the meatiest and best I have tasted in ages.
They are also sold in Skibereen, Mahon Point, and Bantry.
Woodside Farm’s meaty and delicious sausages can also be found at Mahon Point ( www.woodsidefarm.ie for other markets).
Many butchers have their own and O’Flynn’s on Marlboro Street, Cork, was the first to introduce us to a wide range of flavours.
If butchers have their own, there is a good chance they can avoid preservatives.
It’s not difficult for them to be gluten-free when they don’t use rusk as filler.
Clonakilty 16 Irish Pork Sausages 454g €3 (€6.60/kg)
With 63% Irish pork meat, there is additional pork fat, and water is high on the list. There is sodium sulphite and also MSG added as flavour enhancer, along with dextrose, a form of sugar which provides 1.7% sugars.
Spice extracts add to the flavouring. The casings are made from beef collagen. Protein is a decent enough 9.9%. Tasters liked the taste and texture and that they held their shape during cooking.
M&S 6 Irish Thick Pork Sausages 400g €3.29 (€8.22/kg)
Tasters did not realise these were gluten-free when tasting and scored them highly just for taste. A decent 78% pork is supplemented with rice and chickpea flours to hold in the water.
While there is added pimento, black pepper and other spices in subtle proportions, the dominant flavour is of tasty meat. Extra marks were given given for being gluten-free and tasty.
Denny Gold Medal 16 Pork Sausages 454g €2 (€4.40/kg)
A relatively low amount of pork at 60%, is supplemented by rusk, wheat starch and water, pork fat and rind. MSG is the flavour enhancer and there are two sulphite/phosphate-based chemicals.
With dextrose, sugars are a high enough 2.7%, and there are some spices, enclosed in beef casings. The overall flavour and texture pleased all tasters, though it was not any of their top choices. At 2.1% salt is high.
Ballyfree 6 Tasty Turkey Sausages 240g €3.29 (€13.71/kg)
60% turkey with water stabilised by rusk and onion powder has added chicken fat in beef casings. Saturated fats at 3% is lower than many others. At 1% salt was low enough. Sugars at 0.4% were low.
Tasters were impressed with this lower fat option which had good, rich flavour and kept their shape. We bought in Tesco and noticed that they are €3.80 online at Centra.
Aldi Butcher’s Choice 6 Irish Jumbo Sausages with caramelised onion 370g €1.99, (€5.38/kg)
70% pork is added to with water, rusk and caramelised onion. There are phosphates and sulphites. Dextrose (1.1% sugars), herbs, yeast extract and other unnamed natural flavourings are in natural pork casings with 2.1% salt. 8.7% saturated fats are in the middle range.
Tasters could not get the caramelised onion taste. The nicely meaty, pork taste was enjoyed by all.
Ruddl’s 6 Traditional Irish Extra Thick Sausages 360g €3.09 (€8.58/kg)
75% Irish pork with added water and rusk has MSG as the seasoning along with spices and herbs. There are sulphites too. Middle to high 10% saturated fats,1.9g sugars and a decent 11.6% protein is pretty good, with 1.5% salt.
Tasters found these quite salty and the overall flavour average but not special. A decent sized sausage, but expensive for the flavour value.
Lidl Glensallagh Irish Pork & Spring Onion Sausages 400g €2.30 (€5.73/kg)
80% Irish pork sounded good, but the sage and thyme provided an unattractive taste of dried herbs with the rehydrated spring onion flavour coming through too.
Rusk and water are the filler, the preservative is sodium metabisulphite, all in natural hog casing. 7.9% saturated fats, a decent 13.7 protein, but the overall texture was unexpectedly dry.
Mallon’s Butchers Low Fat, Gluten Free 6 Traditional Irish Pork Sausages 240g €2.30 (€9.59/kg)
A decent 75% Irish pork has water held in place by tapioca starch. Salt at 2.1% is high enough, tasting less salty with the addition of dextrose and sugar providing 2% sugars.
White pepper, ginger, mace and other spice extracts are mixed into beef collagen casings. 0.7% saturated fats is low. Lacking depth of flavour, they did not compare well to our top scorers.
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