Snapshots from Germany: Leberwurst (Liver Sausage)


Spreadable garlic Leberwurst, excellent on pumpkin seed crackers. [Photograph: Jarle Kottmann]

More than 1,600 different types of sausages are produced in Germany, or at least estimated to be. A general classification based on the production divides them into three basic categories: Rohwurst (Raw Sausage, with raw pieces of meat and fat), Brühwurst (using heated or cured meat) and Kochwurst (with meat that has been thoroughly cooked).

Examples of Rohwurst category include smoked Mettwurst or air-dried salami. The Brühwurst family includes Weisswurst, Frankfurter and Leberkäse. In the cooked category we find headcheese, blood sausages and, today's topic, the Leberwurst.

As the name indicates, the typical Leberwurst is a sausage that includes liver, usually pork. The actual liver content, however, will normally never exceed 25% with the remainder made up of minced pork cuts, speck, fat, seasoned with salt, pepper and other spices and herbs such as marjoram. The sausage mixture (Wurstbrät) is inserted into a natural pork casing then heated in hot, but never boiling, water or baked or even smoked.

With Leberwurst, a typical distinction relates to its texture. Some like their leberwurst very finely minced with an almost buttery texture, while others prefer roughly chopped Leberwurst with chewy chunks of speck and white pork fat. Leberwurst is typically is offered in glass jars too, eaten as a cold cut or spreadable on fresh bread.

A particularly famous Leberwurst is the Frankfurter Zeppelinwurst named after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (inventor of the namesake air-ship). Legend has it that on March 15, 1909, master butcher Herr Stephan Weiss created his signature Leberwurst and obtained Count Ferdinand's personal approval to name it Zeppelinwurst. From this glorious day onwards, the Zeppelinwurst became an obligatory part of the Zeppelin Air-ship onboard restaurant menu and Herr Weiss marketed his Zeppelinwurst with the slogan "Ein Genuss zum Abheben gut" (translates to the effect of: a pleasure for your take-off.) It's almost certain that the Zeppelinwurst was on board the ill-fated Hindenburg airship when it crashed into the docking tower at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937.

Today the Frankfurter Zeppelinwurst remains as popular as ever and a must try for your next to visit Frankfurt.