What Is Blood Sausage Made Of, And What Does It Taste Like?

English cuisine is no stranger to unique foodstuffs. From stargazy pie to jellied eels, the European island nation has produced plenty of food items that you definitely can't find elsewhere.

And while the argument can be made that items like those two are so esoteric no one eats them anymore, the same can't be said of baked beans on toast, a dish Brits will defend vociferously. (This from the country that can't handle the idea of biscuits and gravy, no matter how many times it's explained that America's "biscuits" aren't the same as cookies.) The country's stock in trade, though, will always be literal meat-and-potatoes, especially sausages, with which Britain has had a long cultural love affair.

That brings up one of the strangest aspects of British cuisine: the tendency to call everything "pudding." Americans hear that word and think of a thick dessert custard. But to Britons, anything can be pudding: bread (Yorkshire pudding), literally any dessert, and most importantly for our purposes, sausages such as blood pudding.

Blood sausage is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin

Getting the big question out of the way right off the bat: Blood sausages, also known as black puddings or blood puddings, are not inappropriately named. They're made by using cooked or congealed blood combined with a filler (typically oatmeal) until they attain a thick enough consistency to be encased and turned into sausages. As far as why sausages are sometimes made this way, blood is a surprisingly effective binder, and more cultures than you'd think go in for the taste.

Speaking of which, you may be wondering what blood sausage/black pudding tastes like. In some ways, it's exactly what you'd expect — it has an earthy, almost copper-y quality to it that makes sure the notion it was cooked with blood is never far from your mind. 

A lot of Americans can't handle that, but considering the British are horrified by the idea of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they don't really have a leg to stand on for criticism there.

There are multiple types of sausage the Brits refer to as pudding

Blood pudding isn't the only type of sausage Brits refer to as "pudding." "White pudding" — essentially black pudding, but without the blood — is less common than its cousin, but it still shows up. Both are also typical components of a full English (or full Irish) breakfast, though black pudding is an integral one (along with eggs, sausage, bacon, baked beans, toast, tomatoes, and mushrooms), while white pudding is more of an add-on.

The idea of this dish may seem horrifying to Americans, but it's popular in England. Moreover, the idea of blood-based sausages isn't unique to British cuisine. They're called "boudin" in French cuisine, "morcilla" in Latin American countries, and they pop up plenty in Eastern European cuisine, too. 

Blood sausages have also been around a long time, with the first historical reference to them appearing in "The Odyssey" — meaning they date to at least 800 B.C. They're still most closely associated with the British, though, and for good reason. Blood sausages are more common in England and Ireland than they are anywhere else in the world.