Whether you are looking for a change in the kind of sausages you buy or just a new experience, you can't go wrong with the increasing amount of German produce now gracing European supermarkets. As major supermarkets try to add to their wider appeal, and with the ever-expanding EU trade agreements, more and more foreign food is finding its way onto British shelves. There is an increasing number of specialist delicatessens and Internet sites, which specialise in bringing food from other countries into Britain. One of the biggest of these exporters is Germany, and German sausagemeat is one of the most popular.
In Germany the word for sausage is generally wurst. There are now more than 80 different wursts on sale in Britain, but some of these are sold in small quantities. They are a staple of the German diet and have been so for many centuries.
There are three main types of wurst:
Rohwurst in English means 'raw'. They are left uncooked and then are either salted, cured or smoked. Examples of this are salami and Cervalat.
Kochwuerste means 'cooked wurst'. Examples of this are Blutwurst (blood sausage, or black pudding), Thueringer Rostwurst, Suelzwurst and all kinds of Leberwurst (liver sausage).
Bruehwurst is cooked in broth or soup and then sometimes the aroma is sealed in with a long smoking process. Examples of this are Fleischwurst, Bierschinken, Wiener Wuerstchen and Weisswurst (white sausage).
Preserved Slicing Sausages
These sausages are made from fresh lean pork, bacon and beef, and are smoked and air-dried to give them long life. They are sometimes known as 'dry sausages' and can usually be seen hanging behind the counter in shops and stores. Some preserved sausages are made in the shape of a long loaf rather than a sausage shape. Different spices and seasonings are used according to the specific recipes, many of which are regional in origin. Some also include garlic and others do not.
To store, hang them uncut in a cool, airy draught-free place. If your kitchen is a warm one, store the uncut sausages in the bottom of the fridge. Slice thinly, remove the skin and serve on bread or with salad. Alternatively, skin and dice, and use to flavour soups, pasta and rice dishes and mixed salads.
Some examples of preserved slicing sausages:
Cervelat is a fine-textured sausage made from finely minced pork and beef. It is smoked to a golden brown colour on the outside and is pinkish on the inside. The flavour is mild and delicate. Cervelat is very good in sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres, flavouring salads and toasted snacks with cheese.
Katenrauchwurst (Smoked cottage sausage) has a coarse texture, and is a very firm sausage that undergoes a very long smoking process. It is made almost exclusively from pork and is fairly strong flavoured. It goes well with dark rye bread such as pumpernickel.
Mettwurst is made from mildly smoked pork and beef, and these sausages may be fine or coarse in texture. Some of them are soft enough to be spreadable. Their size also varies considerably. All those except the spreadable ones are used in the same way as Cervelat.
Fresh Slicing Sausages
These sausages are also made from finely minced pork, bacon and beef, but instead of being smoked and air-dried over a long period of time, they are very quickly smoked and then scalded at a high temperature to seal in the flavour. Like preserved sausages, the different flavours are achieved by the use of different spices and herbs and garlic. Fresh slicing sausages are usually very smooth, sometimes with larger chunks of meat in the mixture. They may be sold in slices or pieces.
Keep these in the fridge and eat within a day or two of purchase. Use by the sell by date. You can slice and skin them and use them in sandwiches or cold meat platters. Thick slices can be fried or grilled. You can also cut them into chunks and put the pieces in hotpots, or use the pieces in a barbecue, or as a filler in kebabs.
Here are some examples of fresh slicing sausages:
Extrawurst (Fleischwurst) is a juicy, fine-textured and well flavoured sausage. The sausage varies in diameter and may be pink to light brown in colour. Extrawurst is very good cut into strips and used in mixed salads. Another way of serving it is to fry it in butter and serve with fried onions and grilled tomatoes.
Bierwurst (Beer sausage) is made from a finely chipped mixture of pork and beef, with no beer in the recipe at all, despite its name. Its name actually derives from the fact that this particular sausage goes well with beer. They have a very fine texture, are pinkish red in colour and are traditionally oval in shape. Some varieties contain garlic.
Schinkenwurst (Ham sausage) is a well-textured sausage made from beef and pork with chunks of ham and bacon. It has a spicy flavour and may contain garlic. This meat, by law, must contain more than 50 per cent ham to be called Schinkenwurst.
Cooked Slicing Sausages
These sausages are made from pre-cooked meats as well as liver or tongue. They are flavoured with herbs, onions and spices. They may contain quite large pieces of meat making the cut surface very attractive in appearance.
Store in the fridge and eat as soon as possible. Slice and skin, and use in sandwiches or with salads. These sausages also help to make a cold sausage platter look even more varied and attractive.
Some types of cooked slicing sausages follow:
Sulzwurst (Brawn sausage) contains large pieces of pork from the head or the leg, all held together in a savoury wine vinegar jelly. It is best if cut fairly thinly. Serve with salad or bread or on a mixed sausage platter.
Zungenwurst (Tongue sausage) is a tongue sausage containing whole pieces of tongue in a smoother mixture than the Sulzwurst. It is medium-spiced with black pepper. Best served with salad or bread or on a mixed sausage platter.
These are soft sausages, which are enclosed in skins of various kinds. The mixture is soft enough to spread easily on bread or biscuits. They may be smoked or cooked. They sometimes are very similar to paté.
An example is Teewurst. This is a preserved sausage made from a very finely minced mixture of pork and beef. It is spicy but delicate in flavour. It is usually packed into short sausages with reddish-brown skins. The meat is salmon pink in colour. Store in the fridge for up to a week. Not only great in sandwiches, Teewurst is also good on hot, buttered toast. It can be used in stuffing for poultry and vegetables.
Small Whole Sausages
Frankfurters are known worldwide and they are typical of the range of small German sausages. They are made from fresh ingredients, lightly smoked and then scalded. Small sausages may be made from pork alone, or from a mixture of pork and beef. In Germany they are sold ready-to-eat from small stalls in the streets and marketplaces, and they are certainly a deliciously warming snack. In fact the Germans quite happily stand at these stalls in the freezing cold of winter enjoying a hot sausage and mustard with fresh bread.
If loose or vacuum packed, keep in the fridge and eat within a day or to of purchase. Some of the sausages can be grilled, but others should be warmed through in hot water (not boiling). The easiest method is to boil the water, remove from heat and add the sausages for about five minutes. This prevents them from splitting. These sausages can also be slices and used in cold salads and in hot soups. In the latter, add at the end of cooking time.
Strictly speaking, sausages should be given the name 'Frankfurter' only if they are made in or around Frankfurt. They are, however, made all over Germany. Frankfurters are made from top-quality lean pork with a small amount of salt, bacon fat and spices all mixed together in a fine paste. This is then put into a casing and the sausages smoked, which gives them a yellowish tinge to the skins. Do make sure the Frankfurters you buy are German-made, as those manufactured in other countries simply do not have the same texture or flavour. They are very good as hot snacks or for supper with potatoes, potato salads or other vegetables.
These are very similar to Frankfurters but they are likely to be shorter and plumper. The name stems from the fact that when they are heated they bend and the skin splits with a cracking sound.
These look very similar to Frankfurters but are made from a mixture of finely ground beef and pork. They are smoked until they attain their traditional pink colour, and are usually larger in diameter than frankfurters.
Bratwursts are much paler in colour than Frankfurters. They are frying or grilling sausages and are made from pure pork or veal, either finely or coarsely minced. Serve with bacon and tomato, scrambled eggs or baked beans for a nourishing supper or as part of a breakfast or brunch grill. They are very good with potatoes and other vegetables as the main meal of the day.
Although there are many examples in this entry, it represents just a small section of the sausages available. In Germany, there are approximately 1500 different kinds, with each region having their own specialities; it would take a few years of living in Germany to sample all of them.