Black Pudding: History Of The Famous British Dish, And One Of The Oldest Sausages

British cuisine is indeed one of the most fascinating cuisines of the world. The British travelled and ruled many parts of the world, and brought back many foods and recipes, and who knows it better than us. From India, they took the Rasam and created their own Mulligatawny soup and from Khichdi, came the Kedgeree. A big part of Britain’s cuisine is also inspired from the regions around, like Ireland and Scotland, especially the way they treat their meat.  

Black Pudding, is a traditional dish of Britain and Ireland. Now, when we picture pudding, we tend to think of something sweet like caramel or chocolate pudding, but did you know, the word pudding may be a derivative of French word boudin, which is originally taken from the Latin word botellus, meaning a ‘small sausage’? The black pudding is a type of blood sausage eaten widely in Britain, and parts of Irelan. Made with pork or beef blood, or beef suet or pork fat and cereal (oats, barley, oat groats), this pudding is ideal for those who identify as hard-core meat-eaters. The high amount of cereal, which helps bind the pudding together may be similar to the Swedish blodpuding, but the addition of some exquisite herbs like pennyroyal, marjoram, thyme, makes English Black pudding truly unique and distinct from blood puddings that is consumed in different parts of the world. But ever wondered how this meaty marvel made it to the elegant English spread?  

History of Black Pudding  

You would be surprised to know that black puddings are probably the oldest forms of sausage, early recipes of the same can be traced in cookbooks published in 13th century under the names of blak podyngs, black pot, and bloody pot.

In yesteryears, animals were let to bleed at slaughter, which would amount to a lot of blood, which would get spoiled very soon. Making a pudding out of the blood lost was the only way to prevent wastage. In modern recipes, it is the pork blood that is used, but through history, blood of cow, sheep and even porpoises were used in the making of the pudding. For the uninitiated, Porpoise is an aquatic mammal, expensive to breed, hence the meat of the same was exclusive to the nobility. While the Scottish, up until the 19th century widely used sheep’s blood to make their Black Pudding.  

In medieval times, eating Black Pudding was associated with Martinmas, as that was when the annual slaughter of livestock took place.  By the 19th century, however, huge towns like Stretford, Lancashire, or Cork, Ireland, that were known for their large pork markets, boosted the popularity of black pudding and gave it a new lease of life. Around this time, the traditional recipes of black pudding were not making it to popular recipe books, and English urban housewives had no access to home-killed pork. In Scotland however, the recipes began to feature even till the 20th century.  

So how is this blood sausage made? In the UK, traditionally pork blood would be stirred and mixed with fat, seasoning and some kind of rusk. This mixture is then filled in a casing then boiled. Natural casings were typically made of the beef intestine, but in modern commercial markets, you would find many synthetic alternatives. To bulk up and thicken the blood mixture a cereal, most preferably oats, barley are used. Breadcrumbs and flour can also be sued to supplement oats. The traditional flavourings of thyme, Pennyroyal, marjoram, mint, help cut through the heaviness of the meat. As a matter of fact, pennyroyal was once known as pudding-yerb in the North Riding of Yorkshire for its extensive use in Black Pudding.

Have you ever tried black pudding? Or would like to try? Do let us know.