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What is Mettwurst?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Mettwurst, sometimes spelled metwurst, is a type of German sausage made from raw pork that is cured and often smoked. It can come in a number of different forms and oftentimes is soft and spreadable, typically used as a spread on toast, crackers, or other appetizers. In some regions, especially those in Northern Germany, the sausage is cured for a longer time and so becomes harder, more similar to salami or German holsteiner sausage. Mettwurst should be prepared carefully since the meat is usually never cooked, and bacteria are eliminated only through curing and smoking.

The name “mettwurst” comes from the German word mett, which means minced pork and shares a similar root as the English word “meat.” Since mettwurst is a type of rohwurst or raw sausage, proper handling of the meat is very important to ensure it is safe to consume. While some recipes can call for a mixture of pork, veal, and beef, most recipes simply use pork which has been ground very finely. This pork should be certified free of Trichina, which will reduce the chances of dangerous microbes in the meat.

Though a number of mettwurst recipes call for different ingredients, the pork is usually combined with a fair amount of salt and pepper, and a number of other seasonings depending on the flavor desired. Ground ginger, mustard seed, paprika, marjoram, caraway seed, allspice, and cardamom are all common additives and individual preparers can play with the mixture to create different flavors and aromas from the meat. This mixture is then combined by hand to ensure proper distribution and texture of the meat. Some recipes call for double grinding of the pork to achieve a smooth texture.

The mixture is then inserted into a natural casing and prepared as individual links or a long length of sausage, depending on preference and the purpose of the mettwurst. These sausages are then allowed to cure for a period of time depending on the thickness of the sausage and the method used. Basic curing can often take at least 72 hours at 70 degrees F (21 C), though some room temperature curing methods can take one or two weeks. Whatever method is used, proper curing is important to ensure the elimination of bacteria.

Mettwurst is also commonly smoked after curing. This can be done through cold smoking for several hours, or hot smoking to cook the mettwurst, according to preference. Traditionally, the sausages are not cooked after smoking, and are eaten raw from the casing. Due to the high numbers of German immigrants in some regions of Australia, this sausage has become especially popular in a number of different areas of the country.

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