German Sausage Guide #2: Weisswurst

Weisswurst

What is Weisswurst?

Weisswürste (“white sausages”) are a specialty from Bavaria that taste considerably better than they look.  They are short, greyish white sausages made from a mixture of finely minced veal and back bacon stuffed into pork casings.  Typically seasoned with parsley, onions and fresh lemon as well as ground spices such as nutmeg, cardamon, mace and ginger, they have a mild taste and a firm but bouncy texture.

Legend has it that the Weisswurst was invented by mistake in 1857, when an innkeeper in Munich ran out of sheep casings for his Bratwürste and in order to feed his hungry guests, used tough and chewy pork casings instead.  Worried that the sausages would split when grilled, he boiled them for his guests, and they turned out to be a raving success.  Thus the Weisswurst was born.  Historians would argue otherwise, having seen pictures of Weisswürste in books dating back to the beginning of the 1800s, but I much prefer the tale of the happy accident.

Weisswürste are usually eaten as a mid-morning snack as traditionally, at least, they’re made fresh each morning and don’t contain any preservatives, meaning they don’t stay fresh for long and need consuming before midday.  These days, Weisswürste can be bought in supermarkets up and down the country, kept refrigerated and therefore eaten at any time of day or night, but I wouldn’t do it in front of a Bavarian.  They’re pretty fanatical about their food traditions down there (as they should be!), so south of the so-called Weisswurst equator, which runs along the north Bavarian border, you’ll only find these much-loved sausages being prepared and consumed the proper, traditional way.

How do you eat Weisswurst?

Weisswürste are served warm, but as they’re pre-cooked during production (they’re a type of Brühwurst), they just need to be reheated slowly and gently in a pot of hot salty water until they’re warmed all the way through (which takes about 10 minutes).  The water should be kept at a temperature of around 70 degrees and not allowed to boil, as it tends to split the casing and/or affect the flavour of the sausage.

Weisswürste are traditionally served in a special lidded dish and handed out in pairs, directly out of their cooking water, along with a salty bread pretzel, a dollop of sweet mustard (ideally Händlmaier‘s) and a large, cold glass of Weizenbier (wheat beer).

To enjoy Weisswürste the true Bavarian way, cut off the tip of the sausage and suck it out of its skin (known as zuzeln, to suck).  If you’d prefer to do things a little more delicately, you can snip off the end in the same way and pull the skin off gently with your fingers, or even make a slit along the length of the sausage and peel it away with your knife and fork.  But you’ll probably find your mid-morning snack tastes an awful lot better if you get involved with a spot of proper Bavarian zuzeln.

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