Great Britain is a historic sausage eating country, with more than 400 different kinds of sausage produced nationally. The British consume millions of sausages every day and we even raise special kinds of pigs to produce the right kind of pork. When not eating an English breakfast, the British love to eat sausages, or bangers, using them as ingredients in dishes like bangers & mash, battered sausage (sold in fish and chip shops) and sausage rolls (sold in bakers everywhere).
As with most other kinds of sausage, British sausages are traditionally made of pork and different herbs and spices, mixed according to ancient recipes, passed down through the ages. Traditional sausage recipes are still a closely guarded secret and it is these recipes which give the British such a huge variety of sausages to choose from. Some of the most famous kinds of British sausage are specific to a region and Great Britain has a number of historic sausage producing regions, such as Cumberland, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire in England and Glamorgan in Wales.
Perhaps the most famous of British sausages is the Cumberland sausage, which has been a local speciality in the County of Cumberland for more than 500 years. The Cumberland sausage has a distinct taste because of the meat being chopped rather than minced, giving it a meaty texture.
The Cumberland sausage is such a treasure of the British sausage producing industry that the traditional Cumberland sausage was granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in 2011, helping protect its heritage and authenticity in a world of fake sausages from overseas.
Lincolnshire is another historic sausage producing region and the Lincolnshire sausage recipe is dominated by sage, with meat coarsely ground, producing a lovely chunky texture. Every year the city of Lincoln holds a competition to see who can make the best Lincolnshire sausage.
There are lots of other and less well known British regions which have historically produced sausages and the English breakfast connoisseur can take this as an opportunity to inject variety into the traditional full English breakfast by varying these different ingredients.
If you are bored of the usual Cumberland and Lincolnshire pork sausages in your breakfast, why not try a Manchester sausage with its wonderful nutmeg and ginger taste, or perhaps an Oxford sausage containing lemon pork and veal, a slightly more refined sausage experience and firm favourite of the dining halls at Oxford University. Or perhaps try the Marlybone sausage, a traditional Hertford butchers sausage, flavoured with mace and ginger, but if you happen to be a vegetarian try the Glamorgan sausage, a traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage, made of cheese, leeks and bread crumbs.
The artisanal production of British sausages is a centuries old tradition and various sausage producing regions of Great Britain (such as Lincolnshire) are seeking European Protected designation of origin (PDO) for their sausages so that they can be made only in the specific region and must be made to a specific quality and recipe. But just because these historic regions have protected their produce under law, that doesn't mean that you cannot make these wonderful sausages yourself.
You can find professional courses online which are designed to teach you the art of artisanal sausage making, the Slow Food movement in the UK has a course tailored towards the aspiring sausage maker. We also have our own recipes page, featuring a British sausage recipe designed to produce the perfect English breakfast banger.
If you are interested in history, heritage and recipes of the traditional English breakfast, check out our official English Breakfast Handbook, lovingly produced by the English Breakfast Society.