The good old sausage is perhaps one of the best snacks you can ever partake of particularly owing to its ease of preparation and high protein content. That said, undercooked sausage can be a recipe for disaster – quite literary. Not only is underprepared sausage runny and chewy, but it also can be downright dangerous for your health.
What Qualifies as Undercooked Sausage?
An undercooked sausage is just that – a sausage that isn’t fully cooked. You see, the problem with sausages is that they are normally encased in either intestines from meat animals or artificial casings that are typically made from collagen or cellulose. When cooking sausages, the casing tends to acquire a golden-brown color which can easily make you mistake them for being fully cooked.
To know if the sausages are fully cooked or not, you only need to cut through one of them to confirm if the ground meat in them is fully cooked. Well-cooked sausages are relatively consistent and non-runny on the inside.
Sausages that still have clear liquids coming from them are considered runny and undercooked.
Unfortunately, the internal part of cooked and uncooked sausages remains pink throughout so it is not advisable to use it to determine whether the sausages are cooked or not.
Good Ways to Determine If Sausages Are Adequately Cooked
A good way to ensure sausages are fully cooked before you serve them is to ensure that they are cooked, boiled, or fried for long enough.
If you prefer pan-fried sausages, it might be a good idea to boil them for 8 to 10 minutes first before frying them for an extra 10 minutes. This gives them adequate time to cook inside-out and also lets you achieve that golden brown touch on the outside casing.
If you’re looking to minimize your fat consumption, a good way to prepare sausages is by boiling them. It takes between 20 to 30 minutes to boil most sausages so they are fully cooked.
Grilling is the best way to prepare sausages if you want them to achieve a consistent golden-brown color that’s good for the eye. It takes roughly 30 minutes for grilled or broiled sausages to be fully ready.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, 160 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal internal temperature for cooked beef and pork sausages. Poultry sausages, however, cook at 165 degrees.
Generally, ground meats such as sausages need to be cooked to higher temperatures than ordinary meat. This is because by grinding the meat you also redistribute the pathogens in it making the pathogens harder to reach and kill.
To check the internal temperature of your sausages, make a small cut near the thickest part and insert a thermometer vertically making sure it penetrates deep.
It is also important to be careful when doing this as letting the temperature go way above the recommended limit might lead to overcooked sausages. As such, it is advisable to remove the sausages when they are 2 to 3 degrees less than done. That way they can continue cooking in the middle as you leave them to rest.
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The Risks That Come with Eating Raw or Semi-Raw Sausages
It is dangerous to eat uncooked sausages because they contain harmful bacteria. Undercooked ground meats contain all manner of bacteria including harmful bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, and E coli. These bacteria can cause food poisoning if eaten.
Raw or semi-raw sausages are especially unsafe for people with weakened immune systems either due to chronic ailments, young age (children below 5 years), or old age (adults over 70 years). Pregnant women are also at a high risk of experiencing health risks from eating undercooked sausages due to changes that occur in the immune system during pregnancy.
Symptoms That May Arise from Eating Half-Cooked Sausages
There are no standard symptoms that one has to experience upon eating undercooked sausages. The symptoms one experiences depend on the kind of contaminants present in the sausage.
Also, the level of the symptoms may vary depending on the state of your immune system. You might not even experience any symptoms if you are perfectly healthy.
That said, here is a partial list of some of the symptoms to look out for, that may arise from eating contaminated, undercooked sausages:
- Body aches
If the symptoms are severe, you need to call your local emergency response or a medical professional. Usually, mild symptoms of food poisoning arising from eating undercooked sausage go away on their own within 48 hours. However, should some like diarrhea take longer than 3 days, it is best to talk to a medical professional.
Severe symptoms like muscle weakness, bloody stool, severe stomach cramping, or dizziness should, however, be given immediate attention.
Some Common Mistakes People Make When Preparing Sausages That Cause Them to Undercook
Overcrowding Sausages on The Pan or Grill
Cramming many sausages together in a cooking pan is the surest way to end up with soggy sausages. You want to set your sausages in such a manner that they are not touching so that they can cook evenly. Crowding them up in a pan only gets them to sweat and steam – something that could leave them soggy in the end.
Cooking Them When They Are Still Cold
It is advisable to let your sausages sit for a few minutes when you remove them from the fridge so they can achieve room temperature first before you cook them. The interior of the sausages tends to remain colder for longer than the exterior and this can lead to uneven cooking down the line. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have the sausages achieve room temperature before you start cooking them.
Using High Heat
Cooking sausages in extremely high heat is never a good idea. Extreme cooking temperatures can cause the casing of your sausages to rip apart creating an ugly mess and potentially causing them to cook unevenly. Also, cooking them under high heat can cause them to burn on the outside while leaving the inside essentially raw.
Not Paying Attention to The Type of Sausage
Chicken sausages need to be cooked slightly longer than beef and pork sausages. Make sure you are aware of the type of sausage you are working with and that it attains its “done” temperature before you eat them.