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What is Mustamakkara?

By Terrie Brockmann
Updated May 16, 2024
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Mustamakkara, or musta makkara, is a Finnish blood sausage that originated in the city of Tampere, Finland. Food experts can trace its origins to at least the 16th century, and it is still popular today. Mustamakkara literally translates to black sausage and has an eggplant-like color. Typically, sausage makers use fresh pork blood, spices, and crushed rye to make the delicacy. People usually eat it hot and freshly made, but sometimes merchants sell it frozen, cured, or precooked.

Although each sausage maker has his own recipe, the basic recipe for the blood sausage includes uncoagulated blood from a freshly slaughter hog. As the blood must be very fresh, sausage makers make the sausage on slaughter day. Cooks may keep the fresh sausages refrigerated for a few days, but generally the sausages are best if eaten within a day or two. Most people prefer the taste of fresh sausage and find that cured, precooked, or frozen mustamakkara tastes different.

Many different countries have their own version of blood sausage, including verivorstid in Estonia. In Germany it is called blutwurst, in France it is boudin noir, and in Spain it is morcila. The Portuguese have two versions, and the morcelas is darker than the chourico mouro. In the Cajun regions in the U.S., it is called boudin rouge. In each country, the sausage mixture is stuffed into intestine casings in the traditional sausage-making practice.

In Tampere, people usually eat mustamakkara with lingonberry jam. Typically, when vendors sell the hot, freshly cooked sausages, they serve it on large squares of white paper with a large dollop of jam. In many markets around Tampere, such as in Tammela Square or Laukontori Market Square, rows of vendors' trailers line the street, and trucks from the sausage factories deliver hot, fresh sausage to the vendors. During the summer and at festival times, long lines of customers patiently await their chance to buy sausage. The Finns eat it with almost every meal, including breakfast.

Although it is traditionally from Tampere, mustamakkara is now available in many areas of Finland. In Tampere, vendors sell the sausage at the market stalls or street carts that line the city streets, especially near the waterfront. When ordering the sausage from vendors, a buyer typically orders by specifying how much money he or she is willing to spend instead of ordering by weight.

For centuries, cooks roasted the mustamakkara sausages over open fires or in cauldrons. Usually in modern times, people pan fry the sausages or grill them. Sometimes cooks roast them in the oven.

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