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Q: Could you please explain some of the types of sausage - there's so many to choose from. I always buy the same kind because I just don't know about the others.

A: Sausage is basically broken down into two kinds: smoked or fresh.

Smoked sausage is cured and put in a smoker for varying amounts of time. Smoked sausage could be considered "ready to eat" because it has been cured, but in general some cooking is a good idea.

Fresh sausage is exactly that - fresh. It has never been cooked or processed.

In general the main meat in sausage is pork, although you may have seen some of the trendy sausages available now, such as chicken with apple. But if you want real, traditional sausage, you want pork.

For the most part Italian sausage (which is probably the most common) is not smoked. It has been done, but does not really lend itself well to smoking. It comes in both mild and hot.

Although all sausage makers keep their spicing recipes a secret the seasoning in Italian sausage is a combination of the spices you associate with Italian food.

Slovenian sausage and Polish Kielbasa are similar - but definitely not the same meat. The secret seasonings in both are a little different, both in amount and type. Both have a garlic flavor to them, but the intensity varies. Both Slovenian sausage and Polish Kielbasa are smoked sausages.

Breakfast sausage is always fresh and often comes in 1-ounce finger links. This is a very mild sausage, with subtle seasoning.

Bratwurst and Bangers are two of the more "specialized" sausages. They're both fresh sausages and both have a "mushier" consistency than say the kielbasa. That is because the meat in both is ground much finer. Brats are somewhat spicier than bangers, but neither one has a garlicky taste.

Of course there's also those tasty treats - smokies. Needless to say smokies are smoked. They're tangy and chewy and ready to eat.

In general smoked meats can last in your refrigerator for many weeks. Fresh sausage of course should be used or frozen within a day or two.

Note: All sausages at Old World Meats are freshly made on premise. Their smoked sausage is smoked on premise as well. They are noted for some of the finest sausage in the city, and if you like garlic, their Smokies can't be beat.

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Meat Cutter Ed Jesse
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