Polish Sausages

Variety of Polish sausages

Variety of Polish sausages.

Polish sausages have always displayed a consistent quality. Take for example the finest meat stick in the world, the Kabanosy. This pork sausage has been made the same way for a few hundred years and every person loves it and most people in Poland are familiar with the recipe. Unfortunately, today, kabanosy is made from chicken, turkey, beef, or other meat combinations. Although the communist government was a step back, they did create rigid standards for making meat products and sausages and those standards were stictly enforced. This forced the state run meat industry to produce great products which were the same all over the country. There is probably no other country in the world that has created national standards for making sausages and enforced them for 50 years. The disliked sytem is long gone but it has left behind the legacy of wonderful meat products which are still made and sold in Poland. Although the sausage recipe may remain close to the original, the modern methods of production and chemicals that are used produce products that might look pretty but do not taste the same as before. The only way to experience the taste of those original sausages is to make them yourself at home.

Poles love smoked meat and sausages are not an exception. Polish government archives list hundreds of smoked sausages and ONLY one fresh sausage called White Sausage (Kiełbasa biała surowa) which is traditionally served on Easter. Of course special sausages such as liver, blood or head cheese are usually not smoked. It must be mentioned that we are writing about the golden period of Polish sausage making which lasted until Poland became a member of Common Europe. When the Russian empire broke up and Poland changed from a communist state to a capitalist system in 1989, trade flourished and western countries brought modern meat processing equipment and supplies. Now meat is injected with solutions of water, chemicals like phosphates or curing accelerators and the traditional methods of producing sausages without chemicals has become obsolete. The situation deteriorated further when in 2004 Poland became a member of the European Union. The European Union not only allowed the usage of many chemicals, but forced its member countries to follow newly created standards and procedures. As a result great sausage making countries like Poland or Germany started to produce products as cheaply as possible.

Until around 2000 the manufacturing process of making Polish sausages was relatively simple: the meat was cured, ground, mixed with spices, stuffed, smoked and usually cooked, then briefly cooled in water or sometimes baked in a smokehouse. The baked sausages were cooled in air. Some baked sausages were additionally air dried making them semi-dry or dry sausages. It should be noted that even smoked and cooked sausages will not spoil if kept at temperatures of about 12-15° C (54-59° F). In most apartments people had a designated and isolated pantry or root cellar capable of maintaining such temperatures so food was stored there year-round.

Nowadays there is a large number of commercially produced low quality products such as hot dogs or bologna and more fresh sausages that end up barbecued or grilled. In the past fresh sausages were not in high demand as people did not have refrigerators, besides grills were not available to a common person. What has not changed is the preference for smoked products and a wide assortment of products: fresh sausages, smoked sausages, liver and blood sausages, head cheeses and the list goes on. In addition there is a huge variety of quality products available to consumers that were made in other countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary and others. Due to short distances among European countries food products are being transported by trucks in a matter of hours.

Most Polish sausages derive their name from:

  • the part of Poland where they were once originally made and (you may call it invented) and then became popular all over the country, most likely because they tasted so good and people liked them everywhere: Bydgoska Sausage (Kiełbasa bydgoska), Lithuanian Sausage (Kiełbasa litewska), Krakowska Sausage (Kiełbasa krakowska), Pomerania Head Cheese (Salceson pomorski).
  • the name of the meat part or other ingredient that plays a dominant role in the recipe- Pork Sausage, Beef Sausage, Bacon Sausage, Garlic Sausage, Juniper Sausage, Liver sausage with Semolina and so on.

This naming convention is practiced by other European countries such as Germany, Russia, England and more and a person familiar with a particular language immediately knows what kind of sausage he is dealing with.

Polish sausages can be classified as:

  • long life (trwałe), less than 35% water - dry and semi-dry sausages - cold smoked, not cooked but ready to eat, Metka (Metka), Polish Smoked Sausage (Cold Smoked) (Polska Kiełbasa Wędzona, zimnym dymem)
  • semi - life (półtrwałe), less than 60% water - dry and semi-dry sausages-smoked and cooked (baked or poached), Kabanosy (Kabanosy), Mysliwska Sausage (Myśliwska)
  • short life (nietrwałe), 60-75% water) - regular smoked sausages, smoked and poached in water, Ham Sausage (Kiełbasa Szynkowa), Garlic Sausage (Kiełbasa Czosnkowa)
  • emulsified sausages (and smoked) -like our hot dogs or bologna, Serdelowa Sausage, Bacon Sausage
  • fresh sausages-not smoked, need to be cooked before consumption, White Sausage
  • Fresh, emulsified and special group sausages belong to short-life sausages.

Then each sausage, including special group sausages, is further broken down by the permissible amount (in percent) of protein, fat, salt and water it can contain. We are not going to study Polish sausages in such a detail as this is not a meat technology book and it may create unnecessary confusion.

There is also a special group of sausages:

  • head cheeses
  • liver sausages
  • liver pate sausages
  • blood sausages

Pate, liver and blood sausages are commonly known as kiszka sausages. Sausages in the special group are made from less noble parts of the animal: organ meat (liver, heart, lung, brain, spleen, tripe, casings, jowls, dewlap, skins, snouts and blood). When you see the word kiszka in the name it signifies the fact that organ meats and/or blood were used as materials. Our beloved hot dogs, bologna or its American version known as boloney are made from such meats. The special group of sausages are fully cooked (boiled) sausages which are normally not smoked. However, at your discretion liver sausages can be cold smoked for this characteristic smoky flavor. Some head cheeses were also smoked to extend their keeping qualities.

Fermented Sausages

Fermented sausages of an Italian non-smoked dry salami or Spanish dry chorizo were not popular in Poland as a cold climate did not offer proper drying conditions. However, some sausages were never cooked but cold smoked for a long time, for example Polish Cold Smoked Sausage, Bydgoska Sausage and Kindziuk. This qualifies them to be called salami although they were called by a different name. The manufacturing technology was, however, the same. The drying was simply performed with cold smoke.

The following Polish sausage recipes come from the official Polish Government Archives and are listed in our Sausage Recipes Index:

Other Polish Sausages, not from the official government archives

We would like to mention the fact that it is possible to make different types of a particular sausage not changing its original recipe but employing different manufacturing techniques. And the same sausage will have a different texture, will have a different degree of saltiness and will have different degree of preservation qualities. White Sausage and Polish Smoked Sausage (cold or hot smoked) are made up of the same ingredients but are different products. Smoked variety is cured and has nitrite added, all the rest remains the same. In everyday life people will simply drop the noun Kielbasa altogether and will ask in a store for: Szynkowa, Wiejska, Serdelowa, Krakowska, Mysliwska etc. This is all that is needed as everybody is pretty much familiar with those names hearing them around from childhood. The word kielbasa (a sausage) has a little meaning if you do not follow it with the proper name of the sausage.

The Official Classification of Polish Sausages

Polish sausage classification sounds very technical and is somewhat confusing. It divides sausages by the size of the minced meat. You may say that the the size of the grinder plate establishes sausage type:

Variety of Polish sausages

Variety of Polish sausages.

  • homogenized
  • finely minced - meat particles below 5 mm (3/16")
  • finely minced uncooked
  • finely minced "wysokowydajne" - gain of the finished sausage is more than 135 % in relation to the original meat weight
  • medium minced - meat particles between 5-20 mm (3/16 - 3/4")
  • medium minced uncooked
  • medium minced "wysokowydajne" - gain of the finished sausage is more than 120 % in relation to the original meat weight
  • medium minced semi-dry
  • coarse minced - meat particles over 20 mm (over 3/4")
  • coarse minced uncooked
  • coarse minced
  • coarse minced high yield - gain of the finished sausage is more than 115 % in relation to the original meat weight.
  • coarse minced dry

Note to produce a high yield sausage ("wysokowydajna") which weighs much more the original weight of meat used requires the addition of water and chemicals that will hold this water inside. Note that there is no upper limit.

Almost all sausages that will belong to one of the above groups will be called by its general name Kielbasa and will be followed by its proper name, for example: Kielbasa Szynkowa, Kielbasa Wiejska, Kielbasa Serdelowa, Kielbasa Krakowska, Kielbasa Mysliwska etc.

The Official List of Polish Sausages

Hot Smoked Dry and Semi-Dry Sausages

(Kiełbasy trwałe i półtrwałe pieczone lub parzone)

(B = Baked, P = Poached, P/B = Poached or Baked)

1 Kabanosy B Kabanosy
2 Hunter's Sausage B Kiełbasa myśliwska
3 Salami Krakowskie B Salami kakowskie
4 Juniper Sausage B Kiełbasa jałowcowa
5 Hunt Sausage B Kiełbasa łowiecka
6 Podkarpacka Sausage B Kiełbasa podkarpacka
7 Loin Sausage B Kiełbasa polędwicowa
8 Limanowska Sausage B Kiełbasa limanowska
9 Tarnowska Veal Sausage B Kiełbasa cielęca tarnowska
10 Tuchowska Sausage B Kiełbasa tuchowska
11 Beef Sausage B Kiełbasa wołowa krajana
12 Rzeszowska Sausage B Kiełbasa rzeszowska
13 Countryside Sausage B Kiełbasa wiejska
14 Krakowska Cut Sausage B Kiełbasa krakowska krajana
15 Vacation Sausage B Kiełbasa wczasowa
16 Tourist Sausage B Kiełbasa turystyczna
17 Krakowska Sausage P/B Kiełbasa krakowska
18 Foundry Sausage P Kiebasa hutnicka
19 Bialostocka Sausage P Kiełbasa białostocka
20 Baltycka Sausage P/B Kiełbasa bałtycka
21 Ukrainian Sausage P Kiełbasa ukraińska
22 Zywiecka Sausage P/B Kiełbasa żywiecka
23 Kujawska Sausage P Kiełbasa kujawska
24 Lithuanian Sausage P/B Kiełbasa litewska
25 Podhalanska Sausage P/B Kiełbasa podhalańska
26 Tarnogorska Sausage P Kiełbasa tarnogórska
27 Beer Sausage P/B Kiełbasa piwna
28 Goose Beer Sausage P Kiełbasa piwna z gęsiną
29 Torunska Pork Sausage P Kiełbasa toruńska wieprzowa
30 Belzka Sausage P Kiełbasa bełzka
31 Serbska Sausage P Kiełbasa serbska

Offal Sausages

(Kiszki podrobowe)

1 Brain Sausage Kiszka mózgowa
2 Pork Jowl Sausage Kiszka podgardlana
3 Countryside Sausage Kiszka wiejska

Cold Smoked Dry and Semi-Dry Sausages

(Not Cooked, Ready to Eat)

(Kiełbasy trwałe, półtrwałe i nietrwałe wedzone surowe)

1 Salami Salami
2 Hungarian Salami Salami Węgierskie
3 Salmon Sausage Kiełbasa Łososiowa
4 Delicatessen Sausage Kiełbasa Delikatesowa
5 Hungarian Smoked Sausage Kiełbasa Węgierska Wędzona
6 Polish Smoked Sausage Kiełbasa Polska Wędzona
7 Smoked Frankfurters Frankfurterki Wędzone
8 Soft Serwolatka Serwolatka Miękka
9 Metka Metka
10 Pomorska Metka Metka Pomorska
11 Brunszwicka Metka Metka Brunszwicka
12 Salmon Metka Metka Łososiowa

Fresh Sausages (Not Ready to Eat)

(Kiełbasy nietrwałe surowe)

1 White Sausage Kiełbasa biała surowa

Head Cheeses


1 Italian Head Cheese (Polish Style) Salceson włoski
2 Silesian Head Cheese Salceson śląski
3 Brunszwicki Head Cheese Salceson brunszwicki
4 Tongue Head Cheese Salceson ozorkowy
5 Black Head Cheese Salceson czarny
6 Pomorski Black Head Cheese Salceson czarny pomorski
7 Wolsztynski Head Cheese Salceson wolsztyński
8 All trimmings Head Cheese Salceson podrobowy
9 Mazowiecki Head Cheese Salceson mazowiecki
10 Countryside Head Cheese Salceson wiejski
11 Pork  Head Cheese Głowizna wieprzowa prasowana

Blood Sausages

(Kiszki krwiste)

1 Breadcrumbs Blood Sausage Kiszka bułczana krwista
2 Lodzka Blood Sausage Kiszka łódzka
3 Blood Sausage Kiszka krwista
4 Blood Sausage Ordinary Kiszka krwista zwyczajna
5 Blood Sausage Supreme Kiszka kaszana wyborowa jęczmienna lub gryczana
6 Blood Sausage Popular Kiszka kaszana popularna jęczmienna lub gryczana
7 Rice Blood Sausage Kiszka krwista z ryżem
8 Silesian Krupnioki Krupnioki śląskie

Hot Smoked Regular Sausages

(Kiełbasy nietrwałe grubo- i średniorozdrobnione)

1 Ham Sausage P Kiełbasa szynkowa
2 Beef Ham Sausage P Kiełbasa szynkowa wołowa
3 Lemon Sausage P Kiełbasa cytrynowa
4 Krakowska Sausage P Kiełbasa krakowska
5 Garlic Sausage P Kiełbasa czosnkowa
6 Silesian Sausage P Kiełbasa śląska
7 Ordinary Sausage P Kiełbasa zwyczajna
8 Caraway Sausage P Kiełbasa kminkowa
9 King Sausage P Kiełbasa królewiecka
10 Bieszczady Sausage P Kiełbasa bieszczadzka
11 Gnieznienska Sausage P Kiełbasa gnieżnieńska
12 Bydgoska Sausage P Kiełbasa bydgoska
13 Tomaszowska Sausage P Kiełbasa tomaszowska
14 Mazowiecka Sausage P Kiełbasa mazowiecka
15 Sluzewiecka Sausage P Kiełbasa służewiecka

Liver Sausages

(Kiszki pasztetowe i wątrobiane)

1 Pate Sausage Kiszka pasztetowa
2 Pate Sausage with Semolina Kiszka pasztetowa z kaszą manną
3 Liver Sausage Kiszka wątrobiana
4 Obornicka Liver Sausage Kiszka wątrobiana obornicka
5 Liver Sausage with Barley Groats Kiszka wątrobiana z kaszą jęczmienną

Emulsified Sausages

(Kiełbasy nietrwałe drobno rozdrobnione)

1 Serdelki P Serdelki
2 Steamed Sausage P Kiełbasa parówkowa
3 Steamed Sausage links P Parówki
4 Serdelowa Veal Sausage P Kiełbasa serdelowa cielęca
5 Serdelowa Sausage P Kiełbasa serdelowa
6 Mortadela (Polish Style) P Mortadela
7 Veal Mortadel (Polish Style) P Mortadela cielęca
8 Italian Mortadela (Polish Style) P Mortadela włoska
9 Beef Mortadela P Mortadela wołowa
10 Polish Sausage Links P Kiełbaski porcjowe
11 Bacon sausage P Kiełbasa boczkowa
12 Popular Sausage Links P Kiełbaski porcjowe popularne
13 Cieszyn Steamed Sausage Links P Parówki cieszyńskie
14 Popular Sausage Links with Semolina P Kiełbaski porcjowe popularne z kaszą manną

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