BRATWURST, BOCKWURST, & WEISSWURST:  The Case for Wursts or the Wurst Cases?

After 43 years of marriage, you would think my sweetie would have picked up on the fact that I do not eat any sausage of the link style, and the only hotdogs I eat are Hebrew National because they’re kosher, all beef and, hopefully, do not contain any little … extras.  It’s also why I limit hotdog consumption to one every one or two years when in company in which it would be rude to refuse.  Please recognize that while there may be no sausage in my mouth, my tongue is very much in cheek on this post.  

I am of German descent; my great-grandmother arrived fresh from Germany through Ellis Island not long after the 19th century became the 20th century.  Even though my mom’s side of the family came from Scotland (and England, and Wales, and Ireland, and France), she still cooked up the pork and sauerkraut every New Year’s Day.  Her standard go-to kraut was Kissling’s in its familiar clear and red packaging.  I hated sauerkraut!  As a kid, I thought it was “sourkraut” and wondered if the sourness of the cabbage contributed in any way to the stern (or dour or sour) disposition of many of the people I knew who were also of German descent.  Because the pork and hotdogs were cooked IN the sauerkraut, I wouldn’t consume them either (and I wouldn’t eat hotdogs anyway). 

On a far more fun note, my great-grandmother did teach me some German, and I got to practice it on my siblings and on those with whom I was less than chummy.  I loved having the inside track on words that no one really understood … well … except my mom.  She was entirely too smart (and was a wee bit upset at my great-grandmother).  After hearing me light into one of my sibs, I got my mouth smacked for my linguistic efforts.  😊  Needless to say, I was really quite disappointed in junior high school when only French was offered, and none of the more interesting words were included in our instruction. 

Alas, I have digressed.  My sweetie, searching for easy (see, also, fast-prep) lunch ideas, hit upon a package of “Bratwurst.”  I do not remember the manufacturer’s name.  I DO remember being stunned that the bratwurst was WHITE.  I always thought bockwurst was white, and I know that weisswurst is white.  I decided to do some searching on the internet – well, things just went from bad to … er … wurst. 

Bratwurst is defined in Wikipedia thusly:    Bratwurst “is a type of German sausage made from veal, beef, or most commonly pork. The name is derived from the Old High German Brätwurst, from brät-, finely chopped meat, and Wurst, sausage, although in modern German it is often associated with the verb braten, to pan fry or roast. Beef and veal are usually incorporated amongst a blend often including pork.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bratwurst)

Since Wikipedia was handy, I also looked up Bockwurst: Bockwurst “is a German sausage traditionally made from ground veal and pork (tending more towards veal, unlike bratwurst). Bockwurst is flavored with salt, white pepper and paprika. Other herbs, such as marjoram, chives and parsley are also often added and, in Germany, bockwurst is often smoked as well.”  (more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bockwurst, including that it was frequently consumed with Bock beer).

And then there is weisswurst, also from Wikipedia:  “Weisswurst (German: Weißwurst, literally white sausage; Bavarian: Weißwuascht) is a traditional Bavarian sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon. It is usually flavored with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger and cardamom, although there are some variations. Then the mixture is stuffed into pork casings and separated into individual sausages measuring about ten to twelve centimeters in length and three to four centimeters in thickness.”  (for additional info:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weisswurst

Okay, beef, veal, and pork.  But what about the WHITE color?!  WHAT portions of those meats are white other than the fat and gristle (I looked up the definition of gristle … be advised … not pleasant).  Is the oink, (or moo, as the case may be) white?  Is the meat bleached?  That can’t possibly be possible or edible, right?  All the information I could find simply indicated that it is because the meats are not smoked.  Think about a piece of beef or veal or even pork.  They definitely have pink color to them.  When you cook them, they turn DARK, although a pork tenderloin on the inside is still quite light in color, it does get dark on the outside.  I’ve never seen beef or veal or even pork turn completely white when cooked – even when boiled/poached).  I was really getting concerned at this point about just what my sweetie brought home.  I know, when he was stationed in Germany as an MP, he frequently ate German sausages (often at a Schnellimbiss – like an American fast food cart only, you know, German) and, yes, likely washed them down with a big stein of beer.  My own personal opinion is that there is not enough beer in the world to wash down a sausage of any nationality.  😊 

Now, once I finished exploring the various wurst descriptions I was, of course, also curious about the wurst-casing scenarios.  😉  Apparently, there are two options:  natural and cellulose.  Wikipedia to the rescue once again: 

Natural casings are made from animal intestines or skin (skin … seriously … pig skin, perhaps? I’ll just let that sit there.); artificial casings, introduced in the early 20th century, are made of collagen and cellulose. The material is then shaped via a continuous extrusion process — producing a single sausage casing of indefinite length — which is then cut into desired lengths, usually while the extrusion process continues. Does this sound at all appealing to anyone? Not to me!

I’m familiar with collagen and have no problem with collagen and its sourcing. However, and I’m gonna be honest with you here, I ate haggis as a kid; not a fan. Trust me on this: you can love Robbie Burns and still hate a haggis! I’ve eaten blood pudding as an adult; again, not a fan. Foods wrapped in innards are definitely not my thing. In fact, innards are not something I consume — sweetmeats, tongue, tripe, brain, heart, not even liver. I’ll leave those to far, far braver, less squeamish folk. So, I’ve now ruled out natural casings and, honestly, I’m not a big fan of cellulose. You find cellulose in those brand-name (and generic as well I’d venture a guess) sprinkle-y type cheeses that come in plastic jars, and that folks like to shake liberally over their pasta dishes. So, Merriam-Webster said that the definition of cellulose was: a polysaccharide (C6H10O5)x of glucose units that constitutes the chief part of the cell walls of plants, occurs naturally in such fibrous products as cotton and kapok, and is the raw material of many manufactured goods (such as paper, rayon, and cellophane).  Yeah, you can also find cellulose in insulation and in paint and lacquer.  Exciting? No. Something I’d eat?  Definitely a wurst-casing scenario for me. 

As a result, I have made it clear to my sweetie that I will never – no way; no how – eat a link-type sausage again.  I will stick to my homemade pork sausage patties; they’re actually pink until I cook ‘em, when they turn a lovely brown color.  I use this recipe (and I have the cookbook) which is positively fabulous:  https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2013/07/making-sausage-at-home.html.  I double this and make six pounds at a time; the recipe doubles beautifully! 

“Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them made.”  ~Otto Von Bismarck (interestingly, a German … I guess he should know then, right?).  😊  

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