Should I use Rusk or breadcrumbs when making sausages?
Traditional British Sausages do need either rusk or breadcrumbs. The reason being is creates a soft spacing between the meat fibres – otherwise your sausage would be very chewy and dry. Rusk and breadcrumbs also play a role in absorbing moisture to make a nice juicy sausage to the bite.
What’s the difference between Rusk and Breadcrumbs?
Rusk is used mainly when large amounts of sausages are being made. It is relatively cheap and tends to be sold in large quantities – catering for large batches of sausage making. It is a dried cereal ingredient and is made from wheat flour, salt and raising agent. Rusk comes in three types:- Pinhead, medium and coarse. Pinhead and medium tend to be used for making sausages and coarse is used for more rustic consistency like Haggis. The main difference being, apart from how finely it is ground, is the rate of absorption. The finer the ingredients, the quicker it absorbs liquid.
The nutritional value is quite low and it has the capacity to absorb and swell 2 to 3 times it’s size with liquid and therefore used to “bulk” up the sausage mix. This is a great advantage when costing and calculating profit margins.
Breadcrumbs on the other hand are easily made from left over dried bread – white, wholewheat or rye by blitzing in a blender or grating. Historically breadcrumbs were used to make sausages as it was important to use what we had in the house, reducing any waste. In times of war rations this was vital. Nowadays breadcrumbs and rusk (or base mixes) can be bought giving you the great opportunity to add your own seasoning.
There are other alternatives that can be used as fillers if you have special dietary needs like gluten or lactose allergies or intolerances. Ingredients like polenta, gluten free bread, rice, cous cous or bulgar wheat. A handy little tip is to use Cream crackers (normally served with cheese) The key is – the drier the filler, the better!