Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What's a British standard size for a sausage then?

Well, what is the size of a standard British sausage? It's a good question and given from what we've sampled and reviewed over the last near 12 months there doesn't seem to be much of a consistent sizing across any producers. Now good casings (hog and the smaller sheep) are available in some standardisation for example, 22-24mm diameter for chipolatas, 29-31mm for medium sausages, and 32-35mm for thick sausages. Alternative cases in other material do go as small as 19mm diameter. Whereas some cases can go to 60mm or larger for salami production for example.

We're told that sausages used to be produced in "4, 8, 16 & 32 to the pound" giving some consistency in sizes, however in production now just how much mixture gets in to the case and how long it is between twists appears to be ultimately down to the individual sausage maker as you may expect.

A search on the internet won't find too much on this either, so let's look at our own sampling data and what we've found. For the larger pork sausages, lengths do vary between 95mm to a whopping 130mm, mind you, Cumberland lengths can go to 580mm! 

The point here too is that you can under fill a large case and produce a cooked sausage of much smaller diameter. It's a bit "baggy" but the casing will tighten and shrink down some on cooking. Alternatively over stuffing will produce a much larger cooked sausage, but the risk of splits and bursting are more likely. 

Chipolatas that we've seen and tried vary widely too. You would think that these would be shorter than the porkers but they do vary from 85mm to a long 140mm. Cocktail sausages would be much shorter again you would expect, but yes, it's down to the producer. Additionally with hand production we've noticed that there is sometimes a real variance between linked sausages in the same string, whereas with machine twisted production they do maintain more of a consistency. 

The producers we've spoken to about this don't seem to see a problem with it as the size of what they produce they say is just as important as the quality of meat and the flavour the customer enjoys. It's almost part of the marketing and creating some identity from what we can see. 

Take Oxhey Lane Farm Shop in Pinner, John Wiggett is proud to produce his sausages BIG, and says he well known for this and even produces much larger jumbo versions of his best sellers for some of his regular customers. 

It's the same with Durrants Farm (Margaretting), Emily Stockwell is also known locally for producing what is practically a "quarter pounder" individual cumberland sausage! 

So being different is what it's all about then. 
Standard sizing is really not necessary. 

Vive la difference! 

See our full review and others at www.sausagereview.co.uk