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A Guide to Wursts

There's a great smokehouse and deli that I pass on the way to and from work every day. I've heard that they have great wursts that they make on the premises. Now, I don't think I've ever tried a wurst. I'd like to, especially since they have such a great reputation at this place, but I don't know what kind to start with. I'm afraid I'll get one and then won't like it. The wursts that they carry are:

Bratwurst
Brauerwurst
Wiesswurst
Knockwurst

So what I'm wondering is, can anyone tell me what sorts of flavors each wurst provides so that I might have an idea of which one to try? Is there a particular wurst that's better to try for beginning wurst eaters? I'm totally clueless. Thanks!

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  1. The Brat is a German version of the Italian sausage (mitout the distinctive fennel seed) and is all-around excellent for grilling.
    Brauerwurst - never heard of it, but sounds like it might have a distinctive spice
    Weisswurst is a light color, generally made with veal, has flecks of spice and parsley and is generally mild and tasty.
    Knockwurst generally is a thick version of a hot dog and pretty much tastes that way, unless it's a "boutique brand", then it might be a bit milder and have a more distinctive spice to it.

      1. re: mrbozo

        That's the wurst list I've seen. Thank you.

        My favorites are Weisswurst and Nurnbergers.

        1. re: bkhuna

          >>>That's the wurst list I've seen.<<<

          That is actually the best wurst list I've ever seen.

        2. re: mrbozo

          Thank you!! I've avoided eating veal for years, but the Weisswurst is tempting me.

          1. re: Solstice444

            You're welcome. Here's another list with some duplication but including sausages not mentioned in the first list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category...

            1. re: Solstice444

              I recommend the Weisswurst with Weissbier. And a good amount of mustard.

            2. re: mrbozo

              Not to mention Teewurst, which is a spreadable smoked meat paste that comes in a little sausage-shaped roll about 2" x 5". I got hooked on this stuff when I was living in Germany and still get it at the Russian stores here in Boston.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teewurst

              1. re: BobB

                BobB, I am so addicted to that stuff. You can't get decent quality Teewurst in the US (at least I haven't found any in PA, but I haven't been searching, admittedly -- I do get my fix in the summers.

                1. re: linguafood

                  The stuff I get here seems pretty similar to what I used to eat in Germany. I don't have any in the house at the moment so I can't name the brand. I'll check into it and let you know later.

                  It's funny - when I was living there (this was Hamburg in the mid-1970s) I had an older friend who wouldn't touch the stuff because he said that when he was a boy just after WW2, teewurst was all you could get in the shops and it gave him horrible memories. God knows what was in it back then!

                  1. re: BobB

                    Don't forget Teawurst's twin - Braunschweiger - the best brand I have found in the US for both of these is Schaller & Weber.

                    1. re: HSBSteveM

                      That's the one I get at the local Russian store, I recognize the name now that you mention it. They also carry Hungarian salamis and other delights.

                      1. re: HSBSteveM

                        YES! Schaller and Weber makes tremendous braunschweiger -- have some in the fridge right now. In Arlington, VA, one can buy it (and its kin) at Harris Teeter, with the refrigerated meats/ coldcuts/cheeses just under the deli meat counter.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Schaller & Weber also makes Touristenwurst (Tourist Sausage). Very good, salami-like, with cheese and crackers.

                    2. re: linguafood

                      Go to Karlehmer.com. They sell a quality Teewurst, bot the fine and the "grobe" art.
                      They also have a very good selection of other wursts listed abouve. They ship all over and an order over $50 is shipped free, except in the summer when they charge $25 for overnight shipping on any meat products.
                      Their hams are also very good too.

                      1. re: RichK

                        Rich, the problem I have mostly is with the sizes of Teewurst available. As much as I indulge in it when in Germany, you can here just get 100g (about 3 oz.) cut off of a piece, whereas that Braunschweiger one is massive, and I hate to see it go bad. I don't want to eat it *every* day, but end up having more of it over here because I can get smaller portions. If that makes any sense whatsoever '-)

                        I'll check out the site, though, because I'm also a big fan of leberwurst in all its varieties (with apples & onions, or chives....) ---

                        1. re: RichK

                          Ooooh, Karl Ehmer. I was lucky enough to live right down the street from the main plant in Queens years ago. Yummy, yummy stuff. I never thought of having it shipped!

                          1. re: Catskillgirl

                            FYI, hounds, here is a link to Karl Ehmer's site which includes cursory descriptions of most products and "where to buy" information, including web orders. Gut fressen.

                            http://www.karlehmer.com/index.html

                        2. re: linguafood

                          I hear you. I splurged and finally bought some (been missing it since my year in Germany). I couldn't finish it because it was so salty.

                          1. re: thinks too much

                            Well, one of the "tricks" to counter the saltiness is to lay some fresh cucumer slices on top of the teewurst. Which I also do sometimes with leberwurst to counter its fattiness and chalkiness.

                            It sounds weird, but is a great combo.

                        3. re: BobB

                          I detested Teewurst. It tasted like salty baloney that had been somehow processed to make it spreadable. Disgusting.

                          1. re: filth

                            What I don't get is why it's called Teewurst. There certainly is no tea in it. But I love that shit. Smoky, fatty, salty. Oh yesssss.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              wiki sez: "Teewurst was invented in Pomerania, probably in the small Baltic town of Rügenwalde (now Darłowo in Poland), in the middle of the 19th century. The name, which means tea sausage, is said to derive from the habit of serving sandwiches at teatime."

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Ah, funny. Rügenwalder is one of the main and popular brands of Teewurst in Germany. They have a commercial that is supposed to evoke a rustic large farmer family back in the days. Of course, they have teewurst for dinner (abendbrot).

                                Considering it's a commercial for sausage, it's pretty damn cheesy '-)

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    Yep. That's one of those I had in mind. That is one cheesy sausage commercial :-D

                        4. re: mrbozo

                          You forgot my favorite, Frankfurter Rindswurst.

                        5. What is bratwurst? Depends on where you are and who you ask. In Frankfurt it is a white, finely ground mildly-seasoned pork sausage. In my local supermarket it is a coarsely-ground reddish pork sausage. The only constants seem to be the presence of pork and the sausage is fresh (uncured and not smoked). The size is about 1/3 lb., and the texture and color can be anything.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Sharuf

                            All true german bratwursts are white, not like the Johnsonville brand which are red and not bad in a pinch.

                            1. re: RichK

                              Yes, I think the Johnsonville guys are all pork, or nearly so. The best recipes I've seen call for equal parts pork - both lean and fat - and veal (and since we don't do veal I use turkey breast instead, which works very well); this yields a nice white sausage. The dominating spice is mace. I think the Usinger's cooked brats are fairly close in flavor to the ones I crank out.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                I know Will didn't say or mean this, but don't anyone confuse Johnsonville Brats with REAL German brats from a German deli. Am I right, or do I have to duck from a flying grease missile called Johnsonville?

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  I treat Johnsonville brats just like hot dogs. They're fine, they're tasty, but not like a real brat as you said. They're mild, they're not annoying, but they're a bit on the, well, bland side.

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    Amen. Not even MSG could save those brats :-P

                                    1. re: petradish

                                      Here we are, over a year later...and no, I was just using J-ville as yer typical mass-market brat, not as an exemplar of anything. However, as is the case with Oscar Mayer salami and other fairly well-made if unexciting wurstish things, I'll pick Johnsonville brats over no brats anytime. They make a nice addition to my choucroute garni, as do the Hebrew National knockwurst.

                            2. I think instead of brauerwurst you mean bauerwurst? It's just a rustic country-style smoked pork sausage simply flavored with marjoram and mustard. I think it tastes best grilled, but it normally comes steamed at my local brauerei.

                              I don't know that any wurst is best for a "beginner." Wurst is just the German word for sausage, so unless you've never had a hotdog, this shouldn't be too daunting. Weisswurst is a little rich, more something to start your day with than to snack on. Bratwurst is flavorful and snappy, great boiled in beer and served with sauerkraut. Knockwurst is garlicky and versatile. Bauerwurst is mild, good topped with red cabbage and mustard.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: JungMann

                                Could be Brauerwurst as in brewer's sausage -- perhaps made with beer or supposed to be eaten with a brew. Great combo = brat & beer.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  Beer sausage? What is this manna from above? Please tell me you've actually encountered this in Germany.

                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    I'm not sure there's actually beer IN the sausage. But that would be a total waste.

                                    I have seen beer brats from Wisconsin in US supermarkets, but don't remember if they contained any.

                                    For now, you'll just have to eat the sausage while drinking your beer. I bet you can manage '-P

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      A bit of quick googling shows that bauerwurst (or bauernwurst), i.e. farmer's sausage, is a very common product. Brauerwurst is much rarer but does exist, and interestingly the Web sites that mention it are all in German. At least one says that it does indeed have beer in it: http://www.metzgerei-rechsteiner.ch/h...

                                      It's in the paragraph at the bottom of the page, which translates roughly as, "New to the range: our brauerwurst, made with Ueli beer and barley. Made by hand, eaten by hand: this tasty brauerwurst is made with all-natural ingredients and old-style hand craftsmanship."

                                      1. re: BobB

                                        I won't pretend to get the peculiarities of Schwyzerdütsch (my avatar and namesake notwithstanding), but doesn't that say that it's served with Ueli beer and bread, not necessarily made?

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          Yea, you're right ym, it's served with beer and bread, not made with it.

                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            I'm sure your German is better than my rusty recollections, but I thought Gerste is barley? Is Gersten slang for bread?

                                            1. re: BobB

                                              Your translation is first-rate, but the heading is unclear as to whether the sausages are actually made with beer and barley. At the bottom, however, it does explicitly state "served" with beer and bread, they taste good. Everything might be a little clearer if they would use Standard German conventions!

                                  2. re: JungMann

                                    The smokehouse's website says Brauerwurst, so the next time I'm in there I'll look to see what it's actually labeled as, in the store. Thank you everyone for the insight! I have definitely had hotdogs. I just was a bit overwhelmed by the different varieties and wanted some guidance as to the flavors in each, which you guys have wonderfully provided!

                                  3. There's also the way they are supposed to be cooked. In Germany, some wursts are to be scalded in hot water and eaten that way (eg, frankfurters), others are to be pan fried, others to be grilled, and others to to be spread. Weisswurst is really supposed to be sucked out of the casing, for example; only barbarians (read Prussians in the Bavarian mind) slice it up to eat it with a knife and fork (foreigners will be forgiven in their ignorance). So the method of preparation and serving is a whole other level of detail.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: Karl S

                                      And, you're not supposed to have a weisswurst after 11 am or noon. It's like the Bavarian version of the cappuccino rule.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        It's because, when weisswurst was invented in the mid-19th century, it was not refrigerated and needed to be eaten as the first post-breakfast snack of the day.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          I was in Munich a couple of years ago and tried to order Weisswurst at 10 past Noon. I was treated like a Barbarian and they refused to serve it to me.

                                          1. re: brentk

                                            I was in Munich many years ago during Oktoberfest. It was late in the day, and weisswurst was what was being served in a big beer hall..

                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                              Well, yeah... because the tourists at the Oktoberfest generally don't know any better and will thus eat weisswurst whenever, and at whatever price.

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                Yeah, they probably get the weisswursts where the green parsley has already faded to gray (a sign of a weisswurst that is past its prime, and which locals won't eat if they have a choice).

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  Most of the folks in this particular beer hall were Germans.

                                                  1. re: Sharuf

                                                    Well, that doesn't necessarily mean they were Bavarians. Oktoberfest draws tourists from the fatherland as well. A *true* Bavarian would most likely _not_ eat weisswurst in the afternoon, as it is considered a breakfast item. Those crazy mountain folks
                                                    '-)

                                          2. re: Karl S

                                            "Weisswurst is really supposed to be sucked out of the casing, for example"...a-HA! Like Cajun boudin blanc! Which I in my ignorance tried to cut up and eat first time I tried it, only to find that those apparently inedible casings actually are...

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              I live now in Brandenburg, before in Hessen in der Odenwald. Prussians are not barbarians, but do have certain characteristics. Overall, they're better than the Schwaben. Hessen is das Best and the Mettwurst is much better there than it is here. If you like a garlicky flavor, Knoblauchwurst (garlic sausage) is good. Here they call Frikadellen "bouletten." My Uncle Arno used to make a smoked sausage that was firmer than Mettwurst and was really good, but I don't remember what he called it. His Bauernwurst was good too. My favorites are Mettwurst Hessen Art, Knoblauchwurst and Bauernwurst. I got some good Kielbasa in Polen last week too.