The name “Cumberland Sausage” is protected under European PGI status. To be called Cumberland Sausage, the sausage can only be made in Cumbria on the west coast of England. The modern-day English county of Cumbria comprises the old counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and parts of north Lancashire and North Yorkshire.
The sausage must be at least 80% meat, and at least 3/4 inch (20 mm) thick. In that 80% meat portion, a maximum 20% pork fat content and 11% connective tissue is allowed. Skin and gristle must be removed from the meat before being used.
Permitted binders are wheat based dough, potato starch, flaked rice, spelt, soya grit and gluten free rusk.
Recipes can vary in the proportions of herbs and spices that are used. Seasonings can include white pepper, black pepper, salt, thyme, sage, nutmeg, mace, and cayenne. The predominant tastes are the pepper and the two herbs.
To make the sausage, the meat is trimmed to meet the meat specifications. It is then minced coarsely, sometimes by hand, but usually through a mincing disc with holes at least 1/6th an inch (4.5 mm) wide. The binder, the seasonings and either ice or iced water are added and mixed in (a maximum 5% water content overall is allowed.) The mixture is only mixed enough to blend, but not enough to emulsify it or make it smooth. The sausage mixture is then fed into natural pig intestine casings; artificial casings are not permitted.
Some colouring may be used, but must be declared using its E number.
Cumberland Sausage often used to be sold by the length, but under EU regulations it is now supposed to be sold by weight instead.
The sausage is raw and must be cooked before eating. Good for baking.
Some speculate Cumberland Sausage originated with Germans who came to Cumbria, England in the 1500s to work as miners.
Historically, it is thought to have been more heavily spiced than it is today. People in the area had easy access to spices that came in through the port of Whitehaven, Cumbria as early as the 1700s.
Cumberland Sausage received its PGI protection in March 2011. PGI status for the sausage was championed by a John Anderson of the Cumberland Sausage Association, who died in 2010.
BBC. Cumberland sausage wins protected status. 17 March 2011. Retrieved May 2011 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-12777166
Defra. Traditional Cumberland sausage as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). 11 October 2010. Retrieved May 2011 from http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/food/industry/regional/foodname/products/documents/cumberland-sausage-pgi.pdf
Smith, Lewis. Cumberland sausage wins protection. London: The Independent. 18 March 2011.