Blood sausages are links of pork or other meats mixed with blood, which gives them their distinctive dark color. This type of sausage is made in countries all over the world and goes by names such as blutwurst in Germany, boudin noir in France and morcilla in Spain. In the southern United States, these spicy sausages are popular and can be found at many restaurants and roadside stands. Blood sausage has been made for thousands of years and was even written about by the ancient Greek poet Homer.
This type of sausage is distasteful to some consumers because of the blood content, which is perceived as unpleasant or offensive. When made properly, however, blood sausage should not have the metallic taste that many people link with blood. Instead, it has a rich and complex flavor that many people consider to be delicious alone or as a complement to soups, stews and other dishes.
In its most basic form, blood sausage contains onions and a few herbs and spices cooked together with pork, to which the blood is added. Additional ingredients might include cream, seasonal vegetables or heavier spices. After being thoroughly stirred together so that the blood distributes evenly, the mixture is forced into sausage casings. The proper amount of blood and thorough mixing are important so that clots of blood do not form in the sausage, which can make for an unpleasant experience for the diner. After being made, blood sausage can be cooked and canned, dried or eaten fresh.
Blood sausage is considered to taste best when it is made with fresh blood that has not coagulated, so it is one of the first products that is made from a slaughtered animal. After being slaughtered, the animal is suspended and bled. The blood is collected in a basin and usually is kept somewhere cool while the animal is being butchered and dressed.
Fresh blood sausages generally will keep for only a few days, although they can be frozen. This type of sausage has a short shelf life when fresh, so it frequently accompanies a traditional post-slaughter meal, which includes other delicate meats, such as the liver. It usually is available for sale in a precooked or cured form, which tastes very different from fresh sausage. For this reason, many chefs who have access to a good butcher prefer to make it fresh, although obtaining fresh blood can be difficult in some areas.