Friday, 2 May 2008

'Premium' sausages - worth the money?

Finding myself with a quarter of an hour to kill before an appointment yesterday I dived into Sainsbury's and had a snoop around to see if they had anything good in the way of bargain buys.(Cheap pineapples, btw)

What was more interesting (to sad anoraks like me who are obsessed with such things) was the pricing on their sausages. They had three ranges - cheap branded, their own-brand Butcher's Choice and their premium Taste the Difference.

The TTD ranges, which tend to be higher in meat at 85%-95%, were (and are regularly) on offer at two 400g packs for £4, a pretty reasonable £1 a head. Those are the ones I'd choose if I were cooking up sausages for friends but a single pack will cost you £2.25

The Butcher's Choice range however was on a BOGOF (buy one get one free) offer of two packs for £1.75. True, less meat (72%) but the traditional British banger always had a fair proportion of rusk. That's a really fantastic way to feed a hungry family.

At £1.49 for 454g Walls' sausages would have been the cheapest but for this offer but they have less meat still (63% in total though they do itemise exactly how that's made up - 44% belly, 12% shoulder and 11% pork fat. 'Meat' always includes fat in a sausage) They also have that ultra-smooth pasty texture that I imagine can only be achieved by adding a fair amount of water to the mix. Richmond (£1.80 for 454g) are similar but with even less meat (52%). I really can't see the point in buying either of those.

I hate to say it but having tasted my way through many sausages in my time (I once wrote a book called Sausage and Mash) I think that supermarket own brand sausages do have the edge over independent butchers' and meat producers. Some of the worst sausages I've tasted have been organic ones. Sad but true.


Rhubarb Fool said...

I tend to find supermarkets are good at hitting a basic level whereas independent producers are more varied. However once you do find a producer who makes good sausages they beat supermarket ones hands down. My husband and I have done blind taste tests with Sainsbury's premium and our favourite local producer, Burtons of Wilberfoss, and Burtons won by miles. However, the independent ones were a touch more expensive. We've also compared our local butcher's standard sausages with Sainsbury's premium and found them comparable - which would make the butcher's ones the bargain as they were much cheaper.

Fiona Beckett said...

Ah, rhubarb fool, but you come from Yorkshire where butchers' prices are a lot more reasonable ;-)

I used to like butchers' sausages more and they're still good for basic recipes but I'm less impressed when they branch out into all sorts of fancy flavours.

A useful site you may be aware of is which rates a wide range of UK sausage suppliers