German Sausage Guide #2: Weisswurst

Weisswurst

What is Weisswurst?

Weisswürste (“white sausages”) are a specialty from Bavaria that taste considerably better than they look: 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, Weisswürste have a mild taste and a firm, bouncy bite.

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 to 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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19 Comments

  1. says: Theo J Scheff

    Made these last night for dinner- shame me now. I served them with egg noodles and a rustic French mustard. I had leftovers for lunch. Great. next time I’ll invite the the beer and pretzel to lunch.

  2. says: Cynthia

    Until recently, there was a lovely farm/ butcher shop close to my parents home in Pennsylvania that raised animals and made their own products. They made Weisswurst and it was my favorite. The farm is gone now, along with the shop. It has been sold and turned into a housing development. So sad.

  3. says: andrea

    Great Blog. thank you. For anyone traveling through Maine, USA, Morse’s Sauerkraut Restaurant and Deli in Waldoboro has wonderful Weisswurst … among other German delectables:)

  4. says: Kim DeHaven

    I found great weisswurst at Wegmans, I was taken back by the variety of sauasge they carry. I Have tried their Brawurst too and they are very good.

  5. says: Mark

    Just spent a few lovely days in Naples, FL celebrating my father’s 95th Geburtstag along with my sister and brother. The morning before I left for home we heated up and zuzeln(ed) a dozen Weisswurst with sweet mustard and IPAs (sorry for the purists out there).

  6. says: Pat Whitman

    Served in army as an office clerk in general Nuremburg area in 1980’s. For lunch sometimes would get a Weiss Wurst and pommes-frits from a local, not AAFES, street vendor. Being on duty, of course I would have a Fanta instead of a Tucher Hefe. For little more than fast food cost, I could get a “homemade” sit down meal, with china and real flatware, from what we might call a mom and pop restaurant when off-duty.

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