What Is Black Pudding?

Depending on where you’re from, the sausage known as “blood pudding” or “black pudding” may elicit some very different responses. In the UK, you might get excited about a delicious fry-up for breakfast. In the US, however,blood sausage may make you cringe twice—first because you imagine a twisted food court catering to vampires, and again because you remember how openly into Twilight you used to be. But black pudding is so much more than a Jell-O Pudding cup that went through its “not just a phase” goth phase after listening to too much My Chemical Romance. It’s a beloved food with variations from multiple countries and cultures, a variety of tasty ways to prepare it, and a few health benefits to boot. All in all, it’s totally worth getting over the name. So, what is black pudding? Let’s find out.  

What is black pudding?

Black pudding or blood pudding or blood sausage isn’t actual pudding. It’s sausage made with blood. But rest assured, the blood is supposed to be there. It’s not there because of a whoopsie-daisy on the meat slicer by the butcher who you swear had more fingers the last time you went in. According to D&D Beyond, Black Pudding is also a monster in Dungeons and Dragons (he’s a “large ooze” type with class seven armor), but that’s for another time. For now, we’ll focus on the UK food product using relevant information that we’ve garnered from websites that we know are legit because they spell colour with a “u.” Though the sausage has origins in the UK and Ireland, it has iterations in countries including Spain, France, and Germany. It’s even considered somewhat of an aphrodisiac in Italy, which, considering it’s a meat tube full of blood, kind of tracks. 

What’s in black pudding?

So, what’s in blood pudding besides blood? Along with pig or cow blood, black pudding is composed of suet or fat and a grain such as cereal, barley, or oats, along with some seasoning and onion. Depending on the location, ingredients and process vary. Lancashire puddings are traditionally made with pork fat and pearl barley, Scottish blood puddings include beef suet and oatmeal, Spain’s blood sausage is often thickened with rice, Poland opts for buckwheat groats, and Sicily has a version made solely of the blood seasoned with mint and chili. So, what’s in black pudding? No matter where you are, the main ingredient is always animal blood. 

What does black pudding taste like?

Blood sausage has a complex flavor thanks to not only the iron-rich blood but also to the mix of onion, nutty grains, and spices. The ingredients vary from place to place, but often include some combination of classics from British charcuterie like mace, nutmeg, black pepper, thyme, or cinnamon. Historically, it has also contained pennyroyal, which is a mint that’s slightly toxic and not a one-cent figurine of the royal family. Yeah, we were bummed too.  

Black pudding’s flavors make it a fine pairing with scallops, chicken, red cabbage, and even chocolate. It’s been described as meaty and nutty, with a slight metallic taste due to the blood, which also gives it the high iron content that might benefit those with anemia. The texture ranges from soft and loose to firm like salami.

How is black pudding made?

Back in the days before refrigeration, the blood was immediately mixed with fat, oatmeal, and seasonings, then shoved into a casing made of animal intestine to be boiled. Nowadays, it’s generally made by cooking the blood and filler grain until it’s thick enough to congeal when cooled. This is stuffed into a casing, boiled, and cooled, so the black pudding is cooked when it reaches stores or restaurants. That being said, it’s recommended that you give blood sausage a little extra TLC in the form of a second cook when you bring it home. It can be fried, grilled, roasted, barbequed—the world is your bloody oyster.

About the Author

Hebba Gouda

Hebba Gouda is a freelance contributor to Sporked who will die on the hill that a hot dog is not a sandwich. She’s proud to spend weekends falling asleep at 9 p.m. listening to podcasts, always uses the Oxford comma, and has been described as “the only person who actually likes New Jersey.” She’d love to know how on earth she somehow always has dirty dishes, if donkeys hear better than horses, and how the heck you’re doing today? Hopefully swell - thanks for reading!

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