German Sausages

Sausage names like Bratwurst, Kochwurst, Rohwurst, Brühwurst, Blutwurst or Leberwurst do not represent a particular German sausage, but a sausage type which is made in a particular way. Each type may contain dozens of sausages which belong to this group. It is necessary to break up the name to find more about the sausage. The first part of the name usually denotes the method of cooking, the type or the origin of the sausage and the second part “wurst” means a "sausage", nothing else. The main types of German sausages are described below.

Rohwurst (Raw, Fermented Sausage)

Roh means in German "raw". Rohwurst is made from raw meat, the sausage is not cooked at all, yet it is safe to eat. A typical example is a traditionally made Italian dry salami or Spanish dry chorizo or American Summer sausage. Fermented sausages are made from the top quality fresh meat, they require more salt and sodium nitrite (cure #1 or #2) must be added. Starter cultures are added to meat for a healthy and more predictable fermentation.

German fermented sausages are usually smoked. Most fermented sausages can within 1-2 weeks, however, dry sausages need more time.

Spreadable fermented sausages such as Teewurst or Mettwurst are made in 2-3 days, but must be refrigerated.

Almost all German fermented sausages are cold smoked.

There is also a group of fully cooked raw fermented sausages, for example Kochsalami (cooked salami). Some of the sausages from this group are not smoked.

Bratwurst (Fried Sausage)

When we see Bratwurst sausage in a supermarket we assume that this is a one of the kind sausage, however, nothing can be farther from the truth. In German the word "brat" means "fried" and "wurst" denotes sausage. So, brat-wurst means a sausage that will be fried. There is not one universal bratwurst sausage recipe, there are dozens of bratwurst sausages which are stuffed in different diameter casings, they all have their own names and they are all good.

Bratwurst is a fresh sausage; this means that the process usually ends with stuffing the sausage mass into casing. The sausage have a useful life of only a few days, so it must be kept in a refrigerator. Then, it must be fully cooked before serving.

However, the matter gets more complicated as the process of making bratwurst sausages does not always ends with the stuffing - the sausage is often pre-cooked in water (20 minutes at 149° F, 65° C) what extends its shelf life, but does not make the sausage safe to eat. It must be refrigerated and fully cooked before serving. Bratwurst is usually baked in oven, pan fried or grilled. A bit of oil may be added, but the sausage should be nicely browned.

There is no need for sodium nitrite (cure # 1) as bratwurst is not smoked.

It is a common practice to add two egg whites per 1 kg of material to improve binding of sausage ingredients. Such a sausage should be either eaten within a day or cooked for 20-25 minutes in water at 149° F (65° C).

Note if freshly stuffed Bratwurst is boiled in water for 20-25 minutes at 176° F (80° C), it will qualify to be called Brühwurst sausage and will be ready-to-eat at any time.

Brühwurst (Boiled Sausage)

Brühwurst sausage is not a kind of sausage. It is a category of sausage (it may be smoked or not) that is fully cooked in hot water before sale. The word "brühen" means to scald with hot water and this is how these sausages are cooked. Majority of sausages, regardless of country of their origin, are cooked in water at about 176° F (80° C).

Pork, veal, beef or any meat can be used; the meat can coarsely or finely minced, sometimes emulsified; the sausages can be stuffed into different diameter casings. The meat used in Brühwurst Sausages is raw, cured and majority of sausages are smoked. Brühwurst Sausages must be refrigerated or frozen.

According to the "Deutsche Leitsätze für Fleisch und Fleischerzeugnisse" ("German guidelines for meat and meat products"), Brühwürste (boiled sausages) can be divided roughly into four groups:

  • Brühwürstchen, guideline 2221 (Wiener sausage, Debrecener, Bockwurst)
  • Brühwurst, fein zerkleinert (finely minced), guideline 2222 (Lyoner, Weisswurst, Knackwurst, Leberkäse, Burenwurst)
  • Grobe Brühwurst (coarsely minced Brühwurst), guideline 2223 (Jagdwurst, Krainer sausage, Bierwurst, Krakowska)
  • Brühwurst mit Einlagen (flavored Brühwurst), guideline 2224 (Käsekrainer, Bierschinken).

There are also so-called "Brühwursthalbfabrikate."These semi-finished Brühwurst products are sausages that are sold raw, but are meant to be scalded, roasted, baked, or otherwise cooked, as for example fresh Bratwurst or raw Leberkäse (liver meat loaf) to bake at home.

Kochwurst (Cooked Sausage)

The word "kochen" means to cook. Kochwurst is a cooked sausage, in which the majority of the ingredients are pre-cooked or fully cooked before filling into casings or molds. Then they are cooked again, usually in hot water. This is a special group of sausages which include:

  • Liver Sausage (Leberwurst)
  • Blood Sausage (Blutwurst)
  • Head Cheese (Sülzwurst)

Other sausages that qualify to be placed in Kochwurst group are:

  • Extended value sausages (Kochwurst mit Nährmitteln) which include filler material such as oats, buckwheat or barley groats, rolls or flour)
  • Low fat products (Fettreduzierte Wurstwaren)

These sausages are fully cooked and can be eaten at any time. They are usually consumed cold, but may be heated.

Useful terms

Bratwurst - fried sausage
Kochwurst - cooked sausage
Brühwurst - boiled sausage
Rohwurst - raw sausage (Mettwurst, Teewurst, salami), (roh = raw)
Leberwurst - liver sausage (leber = liver)
Sülzwurst - head cheese (sulz = jellied meat)
Blutwurst - blood sausage (blut = blood)

The sausage-by-region classification is not a new concept and we have been using it without even thinking when choosing salamis: Salami Genoa, Salami Milano, Salami Lombardia, Salami Sorrento etc. In most cases the recipes are very similar. Some examples:

Nürnberger Bratwurst (Bratwurst from Nürnberger region).
Münchener Bratwurst (Bratwurst from Münchener region).
Rheinische Bratwurst (Bratwurst from Rhein region).
Rheinische Leberwurst (liver sausage from Rhein region).
Thüringer Leberwurst - liver sausage from Thuringia region)
Frankfurter Leberwurst (liver sausage from Frankfurt region).
Berliner Sülzwurst (Head cheese from Berlin region).
Thüringer - sausage from Thuringia region

The word “würstchen” means little sausage and the wiener sausage will be called “Wienerwürstchen” in German. By the same token Bratwürstchen denotes a little grill type sausage. When you come across a new intriguing sausage recipe you may discover that you have seen it before. Take for example “Knoblauchwurst.” Knoblauch = garlic and “wurst” = sausage. What we have is a “garlic sausage.” In Polish it is known as Kielbasa Czosnkowa (Czosnek = garlic) and the Spanish will say “Chorizo con Ajo” (ajo = garlic). The sausage may go by many names but it is still ground meat, salt, pepper and a large amount of garlic. It may include other spices but as long as garlic is the dominant spice we have a garlic sausage.

German Meat products carrying European Certificates of Origin:

Thüringer Leberwurst PGI 18/12/2003
Thüringer Rostbratwurst PGI 18/12/2003
Thüringer Rotwurst PGI 18/12/2003
Schwarzwälder Schinken PGI 24/01/1997
Nürnberger Bratwürste; Nürnberger Rostbratwürste PGI 16/07/2003
Greußener Salami PGI 09/04/1998
Ammerländer Schinken; Amerländer Knochenschinken PGI 24/01/1997
Ammerländer Dielenrauchschinken; Ammerländer Katenschinken PGI 24/02/1997

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