Types of German Rohwurst Sausage

"Rohwurst" is a sausage type in which raw meat is mixed with spices, curing agents (pink salt) and sometimes cured meat (bacon) and then smoked or fermented to preserve it. Sometimes the sausage is both smoked and preserved.

  • 01 of 05


    Mettwurst sausages, close-up
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    The meat for the sausage is chopped fine, together with table salt and often curing salt (usually sodium nitrite). During the ripening process, lactobacilli and their companion bacteria ferment sugars to lactic acid and secondary aroma - producing compounds. The lactic acid lowers the pH which alters the ability of the meat proteins to bind water molecules. The ensuing loss of water increases the firmness of the sausage and together with the lower pH creates an antimicrobial environment for spoilage microbes and pathogens.

    To aid the fermentation process, many recipes add mono and disaccharides (simple sugars) to the chopped meats and often add a starter culture of bacteria. Nitrites are added to hinder the growth of which produces toxins which cause botulism. They also turn the meat red and are powerful antioxidants which affect rancidity. Table salt removes water from the meat and inhibits spoilage bacteria. Interestingly, however, the lactic acid bacteria, similar to those found in yogurt or sourdough, are tolerant of both nitrites and table salt.

    After fermentation, the sausage is often cold smoked. Smoking meats have three effects: it preserves the meat, adds to the flavor and changes the appearance of the meat or sausage.

  • 02 of 05

    Landjaeger - German Dried Sausage


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    The "Landjäger" sausage is common to southern Germany and Switzerland. It is about 6 to 8 inches long, rectangular in cross-section, and made from 80% beef and 20% bacon. Other ingredients are red wine nitrite salts, crushed caraway, pepper, coriander, and garlic.

    The meat is chopped several times, until fine, then the bacon is added. Salt is added last. Then the filling is stuffed into pig casings or collagen casings and is layered in a press. They are pressed for up to five days, during which the curing process proceeds and the sausage turn red. The sausages are then cold-smoked for up to five days during which the ripening (fermentation process) continues. The industrial manufacture of these sausages (red dyes and starter cultures) has trimmed the ripening process to just a couple of days, which cuts down on the myriad of flavors that are found in the Slow Food process.

    They are sold in pairs and are particularly beloved as a picnic sausage. There are no special dishes made with them but they are served with hunks of bread for Znüni or on hikes.

  • 03 of 05

    Mettwurst Sausage

    Boiled sausage at butcher shop
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    Mettwurst is a "Rohwurst" made from pork and beef.

    "Mett" means chopped meat in northern Germany and is also the name of a raw tartar made from pork which is sold fresh on a daily basis at the butcher's.

    Generally, "Mettwurst" is made from beef and pork, sometimes bacon, in the same way, salami is made. The meat is cooled to near freezing and then chopped fine. Then nitrate salts and pepper is added. Common spices are onions, caraway, and marjoram. The sausage is cold smoked and air-dried about a week before it's ready to eat. "Mettwurst" comes in all sizes of casings depending on the area's specialty.

    The word, "Mettwurst," is often used as a synonym for "Rohwurst" in general or for "Knackwurst" and "Pinkel" which adds to the confusion of what to order at the store.

    "Mettwurst" comes as hard sausage which can be sliced or as a spreadable sausage.

    Some hard varieties you might see at the butcher are:

    • "Aalrauchmettwurst" from Hamburg - smoked bacon is added and the filling is stuffed into sheep casings.
    • "Hausmacher Mettwurst" is made from lean pork meat and chopped through the meat grinder on the smallest setting and then sent through the food processor to make a smooth filling.
    • "Knoblauchwurst" - made with a lot of garlic.
    • "Schinkenmettwurst" - made with bacon and lean pork.
    • "Räucherenden" - "Mettwurst" sausage stuffed into small diameter casings (see image).

    Most "Mettwurst" is eaten on bread or in sandwiches. They can also be used in soups and stews as a garnish.

  • 04 of 05

    Spreadable Mettwurst

    Spreadable Braunschweiger Mettwurst
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    "Spreadable "Mettwurst" ("Streichmettwurst") varieties are usually made from pork and bacon and spiced with salt, pepper, paprika and perhaps brandy. They are cold smoked and ripen up to two days.

    • "Braunschweiger Mettwurst" is spreadable sausage made from pork and beef.
    • "Grobe Braunschweiger Mettwurst" is put through the meat grinder only and is flavored with a bit of rum.
    • "Braunschweiger Ia" (pronounced "Linz-ah") is made with pork only. "Ia" in German is a denotation for high-quality goods.
    • "Berliner Mettwurst" is made from beef and just a little pork.
    • "Zwiebelmettwurst" is made from raw pork and onions and seasoned with nitrite salts and pepper. It is not fermented or smoked and has a short shelf life. It is eaten, like Mett, on bread, or used in recipes like sausage crumbles.
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  • 05 of 05

    Teewurst - Sausage

    Teewurst sausage on white bread, close up
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    "Teewurst" is a spreadable sausage that looks like liverwurst but made from raw meat and nitrites with no liver. It has a slightly sour taste, like sourdough bread, which many people like.

    Pork and bacon and sometimes beef, are ground very fine, mixed with spices, stuffed into sausage casings and often beechwood smoked. Then they are allowed to ferment for about a week in order to develop the sour flavors. "Teewurst" is 30 to 40% fat.

    Rügenwald in eastern Germany was the main producer of "Teewurst" before WWII and "Rügenwälder Teewurst" labels are still used to imply a specific recipe and manufacture.