/ Food & Drink

What do you think makes the perfect banger?

As anyone who sits with me on the Subs desk at Which? will attest, I’m a big fan of sausages. In fact, there’s a few of us Subs with a predilection for them. Between us, we’re helping the nation chomp through 175,000 tonnes of sausages a year.

A tribute to sausages

So how much do I love them? Well, let me count the ways…

Served with creamy mash and lashings of gravy; smothered in brown sauce in a sandwich; forming a dam between the ‘dry’ (the bread, egg and bacon – black pudding and mushrooms, too, if it’s on offer) and ‘wet’ (the baked beans or tinned tomatoes) elements of a Full English; bobbing on the top of a beany casserole or in a toad-in-the-hole; or simply wrapped in crumbly pastry (aka sausage roll) with some piccalilli on the side. British, Turkish, Polish, pork, beef or lamb… I’ll eat one in any permutation.

And if I’m at a BBQ (which hasn’t been often this summer, perhaps we’ll be lucky this bank holiday), the sausages are the first thing I’ll put on my plate.

But I’m also pretty picky about them. They can’t be just any old sausage. For me, there’s a fine balance between the meat to breadcrumbs, herbs and seasoning ratio. Too much meat and they’re just, well, too meaty. Too little and the texture’s all gooey. They can’t be too fatty or full of gristle, either. And the salt, pepper and herbs shouldn’t be overwhelming.

Taste test

It seems that our taste testing panel agrees with me, in some part.

Of the 14 supermarket premium pork sausages rated by our experts, all had a meat content of at least 85%. When they tasted a 42%-pork sausage, they were disappointed with its ‘puréed’ texture, which one member of the panel described as being like ‘paste in a skin’. Another that contained 70% meat left a pool of fat in the pan when cooked.

The panel also agreed that a high meat content isn’t necessarily a guarantee of quality. In fact, the best and worst premium sausages both contained 97% pork.

But you might not agree – so what makes the perfect banger? And how do you like to serve your sausages?


I used to be employed on a twelve person tasting panel for ingredients used by the food industry for sausages, crisps, mayonnaise etc .

My view is that as peoples tastes vary so much it is always possible that a majority verdict as to best will not suit everyone. However it is always helpful to have the market range evaluated and listed as it is very easy to get into the rut of the same old sausages.

Fortunately I can travel 10 minutes to a butcher/farm where the range of sausages made from the pigs changes by the month. The sausage is an under-rated product – and is best oven baked : )

Louise cook says:
27 August 2017

What happened to organic sausages? No nitrites/nitrates that are are the culprits in processed meat.


Nitrites and nitrates are added to sausages as a preservative and to maintain the pink colour of the meat. High temperature cooking such as frying and grilling produces nitrosamines, which have long been known to increase risk of cancer.

Preservative is needed to prevent the growth of extremely hazardous bacteria and there is no ideal alternative to nitrites: a.uk.com/_attachments/resources/2567_s4.pdf

I don’t eat sausages but would be interested to know which preservatives are currently used in organic sausages.


Unfortunately, the link did not copy/paste correctly. Please search for: ALTERNATIVES TO NITRATES AND NITRITES IN ORGANIC MEAT PRODUCTS which is published by Campden BRI


Nope. Might be an anti-virus measure.


Thanks for the info, @wavechange. I’ve always grilled or dry-fried sausages – guess I should be oven baking them!


What goes into food is a concern as the recent research on the gut bacteria we are very much responding to what we eat. Eat poorly and you get the wrong bacteria operating inside the colon.

This month 60 Million Consammateurs in France has shown that 18 sweets aimed at children have nanoparticles included without the proper disclosure. Interestingly all the manufacturers denied they used nanoparticles which may indicate a blind eye to what they are buying in.

Which? last mentioned nanoparticles in a Conversation in 2011. A light article which drew but five responses.

Since then we have had much talk of them in cosmetics and they are now being withdrawn – I think. However what is going on in the food industry?

” Really harmless, the nanos ?
Use the materials in the form of “nanos” offers new properties : in foods, nanoparticles help to change the color, the smell, the smoothness or the texture. Thus, the titanium dioxide (E171) in the form of nano optimizes the appearance bleaching of this dye for icings and coatings for sweets ; it also helps to prevent oxygen and moisture to alter the product.

But beyond their utility in technology, it is necessary to know if the ingestion of nanoparticles is actually harmless. The current studies do not yet allow for the knowledge, but the grip tightens around certain substances, such as the famous titanium dioxide. -E171, a food additive of concern

…… following a study by the national Institute of agronomic research (Inra) published in January 2017. The researchers ingested rats titanium dioxide containing 40-45 % of nanoparticles at doses close to those that a human can ingest. After one hundred days of exposure, they observed that the titanium dioxide resulted in the colon for an accelerated growth of lesions initially benign such as polyps.

No conclusion, however, is established for man on this potential effect “promoter” of carcinogenesis of E171. Or other results not less of a concern, such as the passage of the nanoparticles of the additive through the intestinal barrier. Further studies are needed to confirm these first results.

Things are changing so slowly. But in the meantime that the transparency is required, the more wise would be to ban foods containing the additives of the suspects.”

I think most people would agree, if they were aware of the known problems with nanoparticles, that caution is best exercised when dealing with things so small they can pass into the body and where no studies exist of long term effects.


I like meaty pork sausages with onion gravy and mustard. Our food shop generally is M&S and their 97% pork suit us very well. I also like toad in the hole as mrs r makes a very good Yorkshire, Needs decent gravy though.
Occasionally a sausage sandwich in decent bread with mustard and the sausages split in half is appreciated.