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What Are Cumberland Sausages?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cumberland sausages are a mixture of minced pork and seasonings stuffed into a long sausage casing. Traditionally, the sausage is very long and is coiled into a spiral shape. Technically speaking, a Cumberland sausage has to be made in Cumbria in the UK because it has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, but many recipes for home-made Cumberland sausages still exist. Recipes usually include pork belly, pork shoulder, and seasonings such as nutmeg, sage, marjoram, and cayenne pepper. Many different recipes can be made using Cumberland sausages, including a dish where they are served with red wine, rosemary, and lentils.

The spiraled shape of Cumberland sausages is one of their most distinctive features. It is possible to buy them in smaller, straight sausage shapes, but the coiled long sausage is technically more accurate for a real Cumberland sausage. Often, the entire spiral of sausage will be cooked at once and then it will be cut into pieces to be served to numerous guests. It is the same as most other sausages, in a basic sense, being comprised of minced pork and seasonings stuffed into a sausage casing.

Like other food and drink items such as champagne, Parma ham, and Stilton cheese, Cumberland sausages have a PGI. This means that if anything is to be technically called a Cumberland sausage, it has to be made in Cumbria, a county in the northwest of England. In order to display the mark, the sausage must have been prepared and processed in Cumbria and sold in the traditional coil. It is also required that the sausage contain at least 80 percent meat and has a mixture of seasonings in it. The specific seasonings differ from butcher to butcher, but many online recipes exist if chefs want to recreate it at home.

Recipes for Cumberland sausages can be found online, and although chefs couldn’t technically call the product a true Cumberland sausage, the taste of the sausage would be reasonably accurate. Most chefs mince pork shoulder or pork belly before combining with other ingredients. Seasonings often used in the recipes include nutmeg, sage, marjoram, mace, and cayenne pepper, as well as salt and pepper. This is mixed with the meat, along with some breadcrumbs, and then stuffed into sausage casings.

Many dishes can be made which include Cumberland sausages. Any dish which includes sausages can have Cumberland-style sausages substituted, such as sausage casserole. The sausage may need to be cut into smaller pieces to be included in some recipes, but some allow the coiled sausage to be used. Many of the dishes including the coiled sausage include a sauce and side dish to accompany the meat. One example of a recipe such as this is Cumberland sausage with red wine and rosemary sauce, served with lentils.

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Discussion Comments
By Krunchyman — On Aug 24, 2014

Considering how the spices put in to the sausages differ from butcher to butcher, it might come down to personal preference. After all, just because several people like spicy sausages, doesn't mean that others will, and vice versa. However, I do appreciate that amount of spices that are used when preparing it. From nutmeg, to sage, and even cayenne pepper, though different people prefer different things, there's no doubt that the spices help to enhance the meat, and even give it a kick that may be missing.

By Chmander — On Aug 24, 2014
There are certainly a lot of foreign dishes that I'm not aware of, and this happens to be one of them. I live in America, and have had plenty of sausages, except for Cumberland sausages. Many food can differ from region to region, and especially in the case of meats, this is no exception.

Also, I noticed that a tidbit (and photo) on the left side of the page happens to mention that pork belly is used. While I find this to be interesting, it does come as somewhat of a surprise as well. Most of the time when you eat a meat or sausage, you really don't take into account what other animal parts could be in it. Though this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's still something you should take into consideration.

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