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What Is Braunschweiger?

Liverwurst is also known as braunschweiger.
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  • Written By: Alyssa Simon
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 July 2014
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Braunschweiger is a type of smoked sausage traditionally made from the liver of pigs that is also known as liverwurst. It is soft and spreadable, with a distinctive liver flavor. It is often used as a sandwich filling or a spread for crackers, much like a pâté. Its name comes from Braunschweig, the German city from which it originated.

When making braunschweiger, the liver is combined with pork fat and traditional spices such as cloves, black pepper and allspice. The mixture is ground and stuffed into casings made from the thin membranes of cows or pigs, boiled and then put in a smoker. If casings or a smoker aren't used, the braunschweiger can also be baked in a loaf pan and served in slices. Although pork products are the traditional ingredients, braunschweiger can also be made with a combination of chicken or cow liver as well.

In order for the sausage to hold together, it is considered important to use plenty of fat, which should make up half of the braunschweiger's ingredients. Pork liver is considered very fatty, but some cooks add bacon fat or lard to the mix as well. It is then thought best to refrigerate the mixture for a few hours before grinding, so the fat solidifies and mixes with the meat and spices. The mixture is traditionally soft, but home cooks can use a food processor rather than a traditional meat grinder to produce a coarser texture if desired.

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For holiday sausage, some cooks add chopped raw pistachios, ground sage or cardamom to the pâté before stuffing or baking. After the braunschweiger is stuffed and boiled, it is usually chilled again in an ice bath to prevent spoilage. The sausages are then placed in a smoker for about two hours. When the sausage is served, the casings are traditionally discarded. Some cooks prefer to not buy animal casings, which can be hard to find, and substitute thin muslin fabric to wrap around the sausage mixture.

Braunschweiger is also available already prepared at most supermarkets and delis that sell cold cuts and prepared meats. The sausage can be part of a sandwich traditionally made on dark rye or pumpernickel bread with raw onions and stone-ground mustard. Many people who eat braunschweiger also serve it as a dip with a soft cheese and horseradish or pickles. It is thought to be very high in vitamin A and iron and is not considered to have a higher fat content than most other beef or pork sausages.

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Discuss this Article

anon936557
Post 7

I don't know why it's yellow, but the casing is to keep light out. Sunlight destroys braunschweiger.

anon337515
Post 6

I respect everyone's opinion about this, but I love all kinds of meat and lunch meat and even some liver.

I was curious and bought some braunschweiger last night and it was one of the grossest things I've ever tried. It tastes almost like wild game, but very mushy and soft, It almost reminds you of a big vienna sausage, but way more mushy. I found this website when looking for other ways to prepare it and thought maybe I was doing it wrong but nope. Guess it's just gross. Do try some though, as this is just my opinion and we are all different.

anon253839
Post 5

@Izzy78: Braunschweiger is not particularly difficult to make.

cardsfan27
Post 4

I have never tried braunschweiger, but it sounds like something I would be willing to try. I am one of the few people who really likes eating liver, so I'm sure I wouldn't have a problem with the taste or texture.

Besides putting it on crackers or sandwiches, are there any other good ways to use a braunschweiger spread? All of the things mentioned in the article seem really "heavy" and with a lot of strong tastes, which I would expect from a German food like this. I am just wondering if there might be other popular uses or even some recipes that would use braunschweiger.

Izzy78
Post 3

@matthewc23 - The way I would describe the taste is kind of a strong bologna taste. Not surprisingly, since the article mentions them, kind of like if you took bologna and added in some cloves and allspice. Of course, bologna and braunschweiger are made with completely different types of meat products, but they are still kind of similar.

For anyone who has ever made homemade braunschweiger, how difficult is it? I like trying to make new recipes and this might be something interesting to try out. Since I'm thinking of it, though, can you buy pork liver at the store? I know you can get chicken and beef liver, but I don't know that I have ever seen pork. It may be that I just wasn't looking for it, or maybe it's something you have to ask the butcher for specifically.

TreeMan
Post 2

@matthewc23 - I am really glad you asked about braunschweiger. I used to eat it all the time when I was younger, but I haven't had it for many, many years. I have to say that I never realized it was made out of pork livers. Now that I think about it, I don't think I ever really knew what it was made of. It's usually best not to ask in those situations.

You can find braunschweiger at any normal grocery store. It is usually in the cold food section near the cheeses and breakfast sausage. For some reason it almost always comes in a bright yellow casing. I would be curious to know what the reason behind that is if anyone knows.

Like the article mentions, braunschweiger is a spread that you can put on sandwiches or crackers. Whenever I used to eat it, I would cut it into slices and put it on a cracker with a piece of sharp cheddar or something like that. It is a pretty good combination. I've never had it on a sandwich, but it can't be too much different.

Now that I've thought about it again, I think I might have to pick some up the next time I'm shopping.

matthewc23
Post 1

I have never heard of braunschweiger before, but I have to say it sounds kind of gross. I am not a big fan of liver to begin with, so grinding it up into sausage doesn't sound like something I would really enjoy eating on a regular basis.

That being said, I am always up for trying something new. Where can you buy braunschweiger? Is it normally sold in supermarkets or do you have to find it in specialty stores? What does it taste like, and how should you eat it?

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