Only a few things in life taste better than a couple of grilled sausages served alongside baked beans and potato wedges. The traditional breakfast plate is a delightful treat to start your day with, but if the sausages smell weird, that’s your cue to worry.
So, how to tell if your sausage is spoiled?
If a sausage is newly spoiled, it’ll smell plain bad. If it’s been spoiled for a while, you’ll see green patches growing over it, courtesy of mold.
If its color is leaning toward brown, that means it’s not spoiled but it’s about to, so it’s time to cook it.
But is that it? Nope! There are still a few things to know about spoiled sausages and more signs to look out for. Plus, I’ll give you bonus tips for correctly storing sausages!
Signs a Sausage Is Spoiled
Your senses are your key to knowing whether a sausage is spoiled.
The first indication of spoiled sausages is the smell they give off. Generally, meats shouldn’t have a smell, except if they’re marinated or seasoned with herbs. So, if your sausages smell bad, that means they’re spoiled.
Sometimes, sausages won’t have a smell, but they’ll still be spoiled. In that case, you’ll see them turning green with clear patches of mold covering them.
In all cases, avoid leaving your sausages out at room temperature for more than two hours, as the bacteria will multiply rapidly and cause the sausages to be inedible.
Is a Brown Colored Sausage Spoiled?
Some people start worrying when their meat turns brown, thinking it’s inedible because it should be red. Well, that’s a common misconception, and let me tell you why:
Store-bought meat is often made to look redder than it is as a marketing strategy. However, natural meat can be grey, brown, or red, depending on its oxidization level. So, brown meat isn’t necessarily bad meat.
If your sausage’s color is leaning toward brown, that means the meat likely came into contact with oxygen. While that doesn’t mean it’s spoiled, it’ll likely go bad if left out for long, so it’s time to cook it.
The discoloration is a result of oxidization, and it means the meat is starting to dry out. The taste won’t be fresh, but the sausage will still be edible.
Is a Slimy Sausage Spoiled?
If you cook sausages a lot, you’ll know that they turn slimy when left in the fridge for a long time.
Two things can cause this slimy feeling: the casing around the sausage or the meat going bad.
Natural sausage casings tend to be slimmer and softer than artificial casings. So, the sausage may feel slimy even if it’s not spoiled.
If your sausage feels slimy after storing it in the fridge for weeks, that means it’s probably spoiled, so remember to smell it and look for any visual signs of growing mold.
How to Store Raw Sausage
Storing any kind of meat is often tricky, especially when it comes to short-living meats like sausages.
There are two correct ways to store fresh sausages: in the fridge or in the freezer. You should choose depending on when you intend to cook the sausages.
If you want to cook them within the next few days, the fridge will be the better option. Uncooked sausages can last in the fridge for one or two days, depending on the type you bought.
For example, Italian sausages or breakfast links will only last up to two days in the fridge, whereas beef sausages can last three days. You can check the expiry date when buying them to make sure.
If you plan to keep the sausages uncooked for more than a few days, you should store them in the freezer. Raw sausages can be stored in the freezer for two months before you need to worry about them.
The best way to do that is to keep them in their original packaging and wrap them with heavy-duty aluminum foil to protect them from freezer burn.
How to Store Cooked Sausage
Storing cooked sausage is where most people go wrong because they think cooked meat can last longer than raw meat. While that’s partially true, it’s not always the case.
Cooked sausages need to be treated with the same caution as raw sausages as they can still spoil quickly and harbor harmful bacteria like E. coli, listeria, salmonella, or Yersinia.
To avoid coming in contact with these bacteria, you’ll want to follow the storage instructions and closely watch the expiry date of pre-cooked sausage.
To correctly store cooked sausages, place them in an air-tight container and put them in the fridge. They’ll last about three to four days before you need to throw them away.
If you wish to store your cooked sausages in the freezer, do the same, but keep them away from the walls to avoid freezer burns. They may last for a month or two, but they’ll lose their fresh taste after a few weeks.
How to Know If a Sausage Is Cooked Properly
Sausages should be cooked at at least 160 degrees F to be edible and safe to eat. If you want to make sure your sausage is cooked properly, use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature.
If it’s higher than 160 F, the sausage is good to go. If not, it probably needs more cooking.
In all cases, it’s better to boil your sausages before grilling them, so you’re sure they’re cooked thoroughly.
Boiling them also helps maintain their moisture level, so they’ll take longer to dry out.
How to Store Dry-Cured Sausage
Dry-cured sausages mostly last longer than regular sausages, but their expiry date depends on how they were made.
These sausages are fermented and dried out to make them highly inhospitable to bacteria that may try to breed on their surface.
Some dry-cured sausages are shelf-stable, meaning that they can be stored outside of the fridge and still be edible. Meanwhile, some dry-cured sausages do require refrigeration, but they will last almost indefinitely in the fridge if they are unopened.
Once these dry-cured sausages are opened, they are susceptible to various microorganisms that can interfere with their storage time. You should use them within about two or three weeks from the opening date.
If you are unable to use them, you can slice them and package them in an air-tight container, then freeze them, which will make them last longer.
Can You Eat an Out-of-Date Sausage?
A lot of products can be used after their expiry date, but does the same apply to sausages? I know how it feels to throw out sausages you’ve been waiting to cook. Not good!
Well, the good news is, some expiry dates on foods don’t indicate when the food becomes spoiled, but rather when it loses its freshness. Of course, that doesn’t apply to all. Some perishable foods, like spinach, should be thrown away once their expiry date comes around.
Sausages, on the other hand, may last longer than their expiry date, depending on how they’re stored. If you keep them in the fridge or freezer, they should be safe to eat one or two days after they’ve expired.
Despite that, I recommend sticking by the expiry date just to be safe. You never know if the expiry date is exact, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What Would Happen if You Ate a Spoiled Sausage?
What if you accidentally ate a spoiled sausage? We’ve all been there: you get home late from work and are starving, so you just cook the first thing you see without checking it properly. Then when you are eating it, you taste something a little strange, but you think nothing of it.
Then, it hits you that the sausage is probably spoiled! So, what should you expect if you eat a spoiled sausage?
Well, it depends on whether your stomach is strong enough, and age can be a factor too. Generally, kids and older people are more susceptible to food-borne illness, and they’re more likely to suffer severe consequences.
The same goes for people with immunity disorders and allergies.
Meanwhile, healthy people will likely be unaffected. They may suffer an upset stomach for a few hours, and the sausage will taste bad, but other than that, it’ll mostly be fine.
However, some types of sausages may cause more severe consequences. For example, poultry sausage may be carrying salmonella. Meanwhile, spoiled beef sausage may cause diarrhea and vomiting only.
Sausages generally don’t last for long, whether they’re raw or cooked. So, it’d be wise to learn about signs of spoilage, so you can avoid unfortunate situations. If your sausages are smelling bad or showing green patches on their surface, it’s your cue to throw them out.
If your sausages are slimy or brown, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are spoiled. However, if you have doubts about them, or if you have a sensitive stomach, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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