What is weisswurst? Translated as “white sausage”, weisswurst is a traditional German sausage that gets its name from the pale white color that develops as it cooks.
Where Did Weisswurst Originate From?
Popular belief is that weisswurst dates back to 1857 when a butcher in Munich, Germany named Sepp Moser, ran out of traditional thicker pork casing in an attached restaurant. He still had guests that were demanding food, so he began to improvise.
Lacking the thick casings he preferred, Moser decided to make fresh sausages with some thin skin he still had. However, instead of grilling them as usual, he decided to heat them in hot water (without boiling) for fear that higher temperatures would break them.
The guests loved the result, and the now traditional Bavarian sausage has been a favorite in southern Germany ever since (note that the French have something in the same vein with Boudin Blanc).
What Ingredients Are Used To Make Weisswurst?
Recipes vary slightly, but the traditional sausage uses veal and pork back bacon, minced finely in a meat grinder to a proper sausage consistency. Flavorings usually include ginger, onion, parsley, lemon zest, cardamom, and mace, although butchers often vary these to suit personal preferences with individual sausages. Some use local ingredients like white pepper for a different flair.
How Is Weisswurst Made?
Weisswurst preparation starts by mixing the primary ingredients, then pushing them into the iconic thin pork sausage casing and sealing them. Each sausage is about four centimeters thick and ten to twelve centimeters long.
One important thing that separates weisswurst from other sausages is the lack of preservatives in the meat, which is why they’re typically eaten on the same day that butchers make them, usually no later than lunch. The lack of preservatives is also why they’re white, as the preservative nitrite is responsible for retaining the color of most other sausages.
The interior meat is usually processed to make it smooth throughout, which is another contrast to the rougher sausages you might see from other methods.
Different Types of Weisswurst
Unlike some other types of sausage, weisswurst has almost no variation. They’re always made with a mix of veal and pork, though the cuts may vary and traditionally have the same herbs and spices. Butchers are more likely to experiment with trying different spices, but it’s hard to classify these as a different type of weisswurst.
What Does Weisswurst Taste Like?
By itself, weisswurst has a mild flavor to it. The veal and pork back bacon are close to their natural flavor thanks to the low cooking temperature, while the lemon and parsley inside give a slight citrus zing. The ginger, cardamom, and other ingredients are primarily an accent for the natural flavors and shouldn’t drown it out.
However, the actual taste of weisswurst is only part of the experience of eating it. Traditional recipes call for serving it with sweet mustard, which dramatically alters the natural flavor of the sausage. They’re usually pre-cooked during production, so reheating them doesn’t significantly modify their flavor.
How To Cook Weisswurst
Cooking weisswurst is generally simple, with most recipes involving heating them in water that’s about 170 degrees for ten minutes. Note that this is well below boiling or even simmering. Weisswurst cooks best at the lowest temperature for proper food safety, especially because they’re usually pre-cooked and only need to heat up enough to serve.
An alternative cooking option is using the sous vide process, keeping the sausages around 150 degrees for 45 minutes. Using sous vide tends to create particularly juicy sausages, although they may be a little messy if you’re eating them in the traditional way described below.
How To Store & Serve Weisswurst
The best way to store weisswurst is in a refrigerator, preferably in an airtight container. These sausages famously lack preservatives, so they’re significantly more vulnerable to spoiling than most other sausages
Bavarians traditionally serve weisswurst no later than noon, though modern technology makes it possible to enjoy them at any time of day. The sausages themselves usually need at least a knife to eat.
Serving is usually direct, with weisswurst kept in their cooking water until immediately before serving. Keeping weisswurst in warm water helps prevent it from cooling down too much before eating.
Some people enjoy weisswurst in the traditional way, which involves cutting off the end and sucking the meat out of the skin, which is quite different from most other sausages, where you eat the skin along with the meat. Most people believe that a weisswurst’s skin negatively impacts its flavor, which is why it’s not eaten.
Alternatively, you can peel open the sausage and eat the unpeeled section, which can feel more refined than sucking the sausage out. For a utensil-based variation, you can cut open the sausage and remove it from the casing before eating.
Accompaniments for weisswurst usually include the aforementioned sweet German mustard, as well as soft pretzels and cold wheat beers. White beer is the best pair for weisswurst, especially when it has citrus notes that go well with the lemon in the sausage. Non-alcoholic versions of white beer are widely available in the Munich area but may be harder to find elsewhere.
Recipes That Use Weisswurst
Frankly, weisswurst is not a popular choice for most recipes because it’s fresh and heated immediately before serving. Being in the air for too long can discolor the meat or change its flavor too much. Instead, people usually eat weisswurst whole (maybe with a good pretzel and wheat beer).
In the rare cases where it’s part of another recipe, weisswurst is often removed from the casing and cut into small chunks, then mixed into something like a salad.
Where To Buy Weisswurst
Weisswurst is generally available in stores and supermarkets selling German or Bavarian-style food. If you’re in Germany, weisswurst is widely available in the southern part of the country but is hard to find in the northern areas.
It’s always better to buy genuine weisswurst early in the day. Modern technology makes it possible to extend the lifespan of these delicious little sausages. However, culinary traditions mean that most people who want to eat them do so in the morning. They may be much harder to find later in the day.