By Lynn Petrak, Special Projects Editor
Practice makes perfect. For Sausage Masters, that phrase is especially true, whether they learned in formal settings or on the line.
Many masters already had a broad background under their belt before they even started their first job, as they underwent extensive training in trade or culinary schools.
Training varies from country to country, of course. Several of the esteemed Sausage Masters in the U.S. got their start overseas. “Whether you are in meat-trade schools in Italy, Belgium, or Germany, they tend to follow the same format,” explains Steve Krut, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP).
In many European countries, such training is part of a formal structure in which one must prove a mastery of a certain trade before starting or taking over a business. “Say you have a meat shop. Your son wouldn’t be able to go into the business without having some degree of proficiency. If they are interested, they would have to go to a trade school for half of their class time, and after a year or two of that they would go to school for Sausage Making 101,” Krut says.
Sausage meisters who hail from Germany – and there are many prolific sausage makers in the U.S. who came from that country – must undergo training akin to becoming a physician. Trade students in Germany typically complete post-primary educational programs that consist of vocational schooling, apprenticeships, journeyman work, and a series of exams to prove one’s mastery of the subject, which can take up to 10 years.
Helmut Wagner is a sausage master who has played an active role as a leader with AAMP, an instructor to meat cutting and culinary students, and a consultant to sausage processors, in between working as a sausage maker at Walters Meats in Erie, PA. He is also a native German, who went through the vocational educational system there as a youngster. “I started as an apprentice in 1945. As World War II ended, I decided the meat business would be a good place to start – at least I’d eat good,” he recalls with a laugh, adding that despite tough competition, he landed a three-year apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship was both enlightening and grueling. “In those three years, you learn the basics of meat, including slaughtering and sausage making. After that, you have to go before the board and pass a basic test to qualify as a journeyman,” he explains. Wagner explains that during the six-year journeyman program, he rotated jobs and traveled to different places within Germany (at least the area then known as West Germany) to learn taste patterns in each region.
Once he finished his stint as a journeyman, Wagner applied to a special trade school to prepare for his Masters exams, to be conducted in front of esteemed sausage makers and local business professionals. “In 1955, I got my diploma. And that opens the door to wherever you want to go in Germany,” he remembers.
It wasn’t long before he realized he wanted to come to the U.S., and he moved here in 1957 to work for a major sausage company. He stayed there for 13 years, learning, as he puts it, “sausage making the American way – in bigger quantities, more processing.” In 1970, he ventured into the industry on his own, working on seasonings for a spice company in New York and doing periodic consulting in sausage-processing plants. Now, as he lends his talents to Walters Meats, he continues to consult with sausage makers.
Other German-born sausage meisters have learned just how important it is to work in all aspects of the business, knowledge gleaned from their time in trade schools back in their native country.
A meister-turned-supplier resource with a similar tale to share about the power of knowledge is Klaus Benz, now a sales manager for closure system supplier Poly-clip System, based in Mundelein, IL. A third-generation sausage maker, Benz trained in Germany and toiled at the various steps in the process of apprenticeship and journeyman.
His efforts paid off: Benz received his Masters diploma plus another enviable distinction. “I graduated as the best apprentice, and my state sent me to the championship, where I got the gold medal,” he recalls.
Like Wagner, Benz left Germany for the U.S. after being bestowed his Masters. He started the Sonoma Sausage Company in Napa Valley, CA, in 1980, where he recreated many of the recipes from his family and from his broad training. “I consider myself a traditionalist in making product from my region,” he says.
German meisters and other highly-trained sausage makers from Europe have certainly made their mark on this country. Still, there are legions of talented home-grown sausage makers in the U.S., many of whom can be considered Sausage Masters based on their skill, savvy, and willingness to devote themselves to the industry and to the future of sausage making.
One notable example is Bruce Aidells, founder of Aidells Sausage Company in California. As with the meisters, Aidells didn’t just come across a good sausage recipe by happenstance. “I am a chef. I learned how to make sausages by reading Julia Child. Mastering the Art of French Cooking II had an extensive charcuterie section,” he says, adding that he decided it sounded interesting. “My first experience making it on my own was done totally as a lark, something to do on a rainy day in London.”
As he became adept at making sausages, he started “peddling” varieties like pheasant and apple to local restaurants and markets. In his travels as a culinary professional, Aidells began to fine-tune his knowledge about sausages from other experts, much like an apprentice. “I decided I needed to shore up my experience, and I got involved with a sausage company that was a family operation. I learned in the field, and was there at the plant for production to learn some of the techniques,” he remembers.
Today, Aidells still bones up on sausage making, even if he doesn’t have a hand in his brand anymore. “I subscribe to meat magazines and read the technical articles. I ask a lot of questions, and I have an opportunity to visit a lot of plants around the world,” he reports.
Elsewhere in the U.S., other expert sausage makers are making a name for themselves after learning the ropes from others in an informational training regimen. Although Christel Wiedle was born in Germany, she learned everything she knows about sausage by working since age 14 for the venerable Vienna Sausage Company in Chicago, IL, where she was taken under the wing of the company’s German meister, Walter Reschny.
Reschny recently retired after 47 years with Vienna as the company’s sausage master, and Wiedle took the place of her mentor as sausage production supervisor. “He even gave me an official diploma and a couple of books that his meister gave to him from the 1920s,” she relates.
Being a female in a male-dominated profession didn’t stop Wiedle from rising through the ranks at Vienna. In some cases, it made her work even harder to learn all aspects of the business. “Being a woman, sometimes I feel I have to prove myself even more so, but I enjoy it. We have a great group of people on the sausage floor,” she says.
Like Wiedle, Louie Muench Jr. started in the business as a teenager. He continues a family tradition that started in Bavaria with his sausagemaker grandfather and extended to America in the Cumberland, WI, market named Louie’s Finer Meats Inc., which was founded by his father, Louie Sr., who is still active in the business.
Muench, who has received industry accolades as well as international recognition for his sausages, combined on-the-spot experience with formal training. “I worked at the market all through high school and graduated from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls with a degree in food science and biology,” he relays.
Like Aidells, Muench takes every opportunity to glean more information about his craft. “When we come up with recipes, we look at old recipes and we occasionally go to seminars and workshops,” he reports, adding that he also teaches sausage-making classes from time to time. “I learn by teaching, too, because a lot of times the students are very knowledgeable.”
Another domestically-trained sausage master with an eye on continual learning is Joe Leonard, who owns Farmers Place Market in South Edmonton, NY. As with the other masters, Leonard is involved with AAMP and is considered an industry resource with vast knowledge on the art of sausage making.
Now in his 46th year of sausage making, he got his start at an independent store when he was 17 years old. “I just liked doing it. I had no idea that was going to be what I did with my life,” he says. Later, he worked for different supermarkets, moonlighting on some sausage production for local farmers. Once that part of his business took off, he opened his market, where he still can be found making his trademark sausage varieties.
Leonard, too, testifies to the importance of continuing education. “AAMP has seminars and excellent people they are so willing to share. You may want to do things but you aren’t sure, and they are there to show you how to do it,” he observes. NP
s they labored in their kitchens chopping meats by hand and packing the seasoned mix into sheep casings supplied by local farmers, the Sausage Masters of the past could hardly dream of things like vacuum stuffers, automatic linkers, vacuum packaging machines, or collagen casings.
But just as the Industrial Revolution sparked changes in the way people worked and lived, the advent of modern meat-processing equipment and materials has not gone unnoticed – or unused – by those who adhere to time-tested formulations for making sausages.
Indeed, 21st Century Sausage Masters may be known for their proficiency, but they also recognize when to embrace change for the better. Such changes usually come in the way their products are processed or packaged. “The difference today is primarily in equipment, since the ingredients can be the same,” observes Herb Ockerman, a professor of animal science at The Ohio State University, who teaches courses related to sausage making.
Louie Muench, Jr., a third-generation, award-winning sausage maker who runs Louie’s Finer Meats in Cumberland, WI, with his father and brothers, regularly researches innovations that can improve the way they make their sausage products. “We try to keep current. I have seen too many places that don’t, and the next thing you know they run into a financial problem -- and it is hard to keep out of the hole,” he points out.
In recent years, Muench has invested in vacuum stuffers, rollstock equipment, mixers, and new casings, among other items. Muench relays that the availability of modern equipment has steadily and dramatically improved for smaller operations.
That trend, in which systems used in high-capacity, major meatpacking plants are tweaked for small shops, is evident in all kinds of machines and materials. “Very much so,” agrees Steve Krut, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP). “Tumbling equipment, for example, has been used on a very large scale, and it has been downsized for smaller companies.”
As equipment providers see a niche in the marketplace they can fulfill, sausage masters are aware that innovations not only help them do their craft quicker and more efficiently, but can help with quality as well. Krut uses an example of packaging. “A high percentage of small processors have retail operations. They want to maximize shelf life, not just for safety but for quality reasons,” he says. “Even venison sausage makers may want an old-fashioned butchers-wrap look, but they know there are some customers who want it for later or for holidays, so they have good vacuum packaging for portion control.”
Some of the supplier experts helping develop and sell new sausage-making equipment are sausage masters themselves. “A great deal of Sausage Masters are working for vendors like ourselves,” reports Gil Williams, vice president of sales and marketing for Poly-clip System Corp., with U.S. headquarters in Mundelein, IL. “We offer their expertise to our customers. We’ll send a Sausage Master into their plant to come up with ideas to improve anything from yields, formulations, or smokehouse cycles, for example.”
There are plenty of new types of processing equipment that enable sausage masters to produce links in a way that fits their tradition and discerning requirements, yet make their task easier.
Starting in step with the process itself, there are a wide range of grinders and mixers utilized by modern sausage masters. South Easton, MA-based Risco USA Corporation’s TR-130 grinder, for instance, was developed for small to medium production, and it allows for different cutting combinations and diameters of grinding holes for quickly changing different types of ground meat. According to company president Alan G. Miller, the competition within the sausage market, which extends to smaller operations that need to differentiate themselves from large chains and mass merchandisers, has led to a need for high-tech products that still fit a budget. “Cost reduction is important while maintaining quality. This means that the introduction of technology, such as servo drives and microprocessor controls, are important to reduce giveaway and improve portion accuracy,” he explains.
In addition to choppers, grinders, and mixers, there is a new generation of stuffers to suit today’s sausage masters. Some are meant for high-volume processors, while others are designed for small and very small producers.
Risco routinely upgrades its stuffers used in both large- and small-volume plants and shops. “One of the first improvements made is in the basic design of the stuffers. We have continued to reduce the wear within the product pump, lower maintenance, and increase the product quality from the stuffer itself,” says Miller, adding that an in-line grinder can be used to further improve quality and possibly remove a processing stage prior to casing.
Another example of modern technology that can enhance Old-World craftsmanship comes from handtmann Inc., a leading European supplier of sausage grinding, filling, and linking equipment with its U.S. office based in Buffalo Grove, IL. “We offer a variety of stuffers, all the way from small-size stuffers, which would fit in a small butch shop, up to industrial machines like vacuum stuffers,” relays Wilhelm Siegle, a specialist for applications who was trained in Germany’s elite meat trade schools.
Henry & Sons, Bradley, CA, also aids sausage masters with their stuffer needs, says vice president Mark Henry. “We manufacture more than eight-hundred replacement parts for Vemag stuffers, many of which are used to produce sausage. We also manufacture our own line of AC stuffing pumps which are primarily used for high-speed ground beef production,” he says.
In addition, Henry & Sons supplies in-line grinders used after the stuffing phase. “I think the biggest new asset to making sausage and stuffing it into a casing is the in-line grinder,” Henry adds.
Sausage is typically ground or chopped, then run through a stuffer, a process that results in smear, in which fat particles actually smear onto the muscle particles to produce a milk appearance, Henry says. “Now, with in-line grinding, the sausage is still rough ground or chopped and then put through the stuffer. Then before it goes into the casing, it is ground to its final size. With this application there is almost no smear,” he explains.
Down the line, other innovations continue that impact a Sausage Master’s way of making his or her products. Clip closure systems have made a real difference, says Klaus Benz, a German-trained meister who now handles West Coast sales for Poly-clip. When you look at clipping, it used to be a time-consuming part of the day. Instead of making five pieces per minute, now you can do one-hundred-and-fifty per minute,” he notes.
As part of its extensive product line, Poly-clip will unveil a new version of its popular FCA 3430-18 line of machines that close sausages at high speeds, this one designed specifically for pepperoni. The FCA 3430-18 Pepperoni machine can accommodate different clip sizes and product lengths for greater flexibility, Williams says.
Meanwhile, suppliers have regularly upgraded linking and hanging equipment over the years, with implications for sausage masters on the line in large plants, as well as those presiding over their own back rooms. Marlen Research Corporation, an Overland Park, KS, supplier of pumps, grinders, and smokehouses, just introduced the Dynamo 500 Portioner/Twist Linker, designed to be used in conjunction with a Marlen OPTI-Series of vacuumizer stuffers to deliver small portions to clipping machines or to twist link products. Portion size of products stuffed with the Dynamo 500 range from 25 grams up to three pounds.
Handtmann also has directed some of its R&D resources further down the line, Siegle says. “We have a few different types of sizing equipment,” he says, citing the manufacturer’s 115 portioning model and the 216 linking and hanging model that runs in one strand, which can be used for both natural and artificial casings.
Smokehouses, too, are a subject of engineering improvements. Marlen recently started deliveries of its M-1000 Smoke Generator, featuring a loading hopper created to more easily receive full bags of wood chips with less spillage, and featuring separate stainless smoke and ash chamber doors in the cabinet.
The process is critical, but looks are important as well with today’s sausages. When it comes to presenting high-quality sausage products, the choice of casing can impact both appearance and taste, or as it is known in this category, bite.
Natural-casing companies continue to provide a plethora of products for sausage masters, many of whom say they prefer natural casings for their distinctive snap. That said, however, synthetic casings are also increasingly used by sausage masters, who opt for the artificial for reasons ranging from cost to portion control.
Casing suppliers continue to develop new offerings for sausage masters. Dewied International Inc., a San Antonio-based natural and synthetic casing supplier, recently launched new Pro-Line collagen rounds and middles as alternatives to hard-to-get beef casings. The collagen rounds are designed for ring sausages and are available in shirred sticks and cut and clipped pieces. The collagen middles are used for dried or smoked sausages to make straight sticks, and are available in reels, shirred sticks, and cut and clipped pieces.
Risco has developed a new gel casing system, the RS191. “This system has already had good success in Europe, where a vegetable casing is used to replace a collagen casing. It provides great cost savings over collagen, and the equipment runs continuously as the casing is ‘continuous’ -- no time is lost changing casing sticks,” explains Miller.
Meanwhile, Teepak LLC, Lisle, IL, is distributing a series of Ennio Netted Fibrous casings for use in deli meats and sausages. “It is an Old-World look, because after cook, it leaves a netting impression,” explains project engineer Mark Fox, adding that the casings come in a range of forms, such as shirred netted casings in different colors, Smok-E®, caramel, and netting pattern sizes. Utilizing a shirred netted fibrous casing produces a hand-made appearance while providing the production efficiencies of automated filling. Commonly used for hams or poultry products, the netted casings also have applications for hard salami and summer sausage.
In at least one case, processing technology and casings have been combined. Townsend Engineering, the Des Moines, IA company that introduced the first automated linking machines for sausage in the 1960s, recently rolled out a new QX Fresh System, a process in which a fully integrated system simultaneously extrudes a continuous flow of meat batter and a thin outside layer of collagen, making the casing as the sausage is produced. “The QX System takes product quality to the next level, and adds food-safety benefits along with significant cost savings," says Jos Kobussen, Townsend QX sales manager.
Another way sausage masters ensure that their sausage both tastes and looks good is through packaging. “Behind the meat counter, we have butchers wrap, but we also have three vacuum-packaging machines for displays out front,” reports Muench.
Poly-clip plans to introduce a new film sealing and clipping machine called the TSCA 120. The model is a heat-seal module and a clipper built into one machine that is used to heat seal flat film into a tube that is filled, sized, and clipped by the integral clipper, for medium diameter deli-style sausage products.
Other advances in packaging equipment include sophisticated vacuum-packaging machines that enable sausage masters to extend their product’s shelf life in the refrigerated case or freezer, to enhance package integrity, and to address the consumer demand for convenient formats.
Looking to the future, expect a new breed of Sausage Masters to enter the U.S. scene. Although the products they produce may differ in some ways from the traditional sausage of yesteryear, there’s no doubt that the new breed will be influenced by today’s sausage meisters – and that the tradition of producing high-quality sausage will never end. NP
Good sausage making is a trade that has been handed down for centuries, from family to family, region to region and graduating class to graduating class. In a time when so many traditions are going by the wayside, today’s Sausage Masters are working to ensure that their craft is continued by the current and the next generation of meat professionals.
By nature of their status within the industry, the Masters are natural role models. Joe Leonard says he was encouraged to enter international competitions and become an active member of AAMP by an admired meister. “Helmut Wagner has been my inspiration and helped me so much. He also was a big influence for me to go to Germany,” he says.
Wagner, for his part, says that giving back is part of being a sausage master. “Through the years, I’ve been a mentor to other people. I love to teach,” he says. In addition to being an active member of AAMP and teaching short courses, he works with sausage makers on a one-on-one basis -- and he has organized trips to German and Austrian trade schools.
Christel Wiedle, too, is keenly aware that her role within Vienna Sausage Co. today was guided, in part, by her mentor, and she takes time to share with others in the plant what he showed her. “Right now, I have two guys who are under my wing. At different times of the year with our business, because it is seasonal, I try to teach them as much as possible what to look for and see what is right and wrong in things like taking temperatures, looking at products and tasting them,” she remarks.
Although Bruce Aidells no longer owns the sausage company that bears his name and can’t yet work on other specialty sausages due to a non-compete clause in his agreement, he keeps up with the trade and shares his knowledge when possible. “I am extremely active to what is going on in sausage world and I am a consultant on red meat in general,” he says.
Louie Muench Jr. also passes along what he has learned with others for the betterment of the craft, teaching courses on sausage making at local trade schools and industry events. “I don’t think of it as a family secret. I am very generous with other people how to make stuff,” he says.
One reason for sharing what he knows is to keep this special type of sausage making a part of Americana, Muench says. “We need to keep sausage front and center and give the consumer a quality product. You don’t want sausage to lose its identity, and I feel people who are good at it have a responsibility to keep doing it,” he remarks.
MADE IN THE U.S.
The U.S. doesn’t have a national trade school system and masters program like some countries in Europe, but there are resources for aspiring Sausage Masters. Certain colleges and vocational institutions – including larger universities as well as community trade schools -- offer sausage making as part of meat-cutting or culinary programs. Students can take courses as part of their vocational, undergraduate or graduate degree or sign up for “refresher” courses on any number of sausage-related topics, from new types of packaging and materials to successful processing techniques to innovation with new products and ingredients.
A KNACK(WURST) FORSUCCESS
In any vocation, the best of the best have a competitive streak. The same can be said for Sausage Masters, who often participate in sausage-making contests on a local, national, and international level.
Klaus Benz, a former sausage business owner who is a sales manager for Poly-clip System, won the highest award for an apprentice in Germany. His region sent him to a national competition, where he earned a Gold Medal for one of his liverwurst sausages, which remains his trademark variety.
Joe Leonard, who owns Farmers Place in South Edmonton, NY, was advised by AAMP and his mentor, Helmut Wagner, to enter some of his sausages in competitions. He won several awards in the U.S., including Best of Show for New York State. He then tried his luck on a global level at the International Meats Trade Fair, an international sausage-making contest held every three years in Frankfurt, Germany. There, he won 13 gold medals, five silver medals, and two bronze medals, and he earned enough points to get to the World Cup.
Louie Muench Jr. also was encouraged by fellow sausage makers to enter contests. In a state competition in Wisconsin, he won a Governor’s Trophy for his all-beef summer sausage studded with homegrown Wisconsin products, including dried cranberries, maple syrup, honey, and Cheddar cheese. He also has earned recognition for his recipes at national contests sponsored by AAMP. Like Leonard, Muench went to Frankfurt and came up big, winning two gold medals the one time he was there about 10 years ago.
A Distinctive Class
Beyond local, state, and national competitions, expert sausage makers in this country have their own annals of distinction, thanks to the Cured Meats Hall of Fame, created by AAMP in 1991. “We recognize one or two people a year who are inducted into the Hall of Fame, representing the fairly gloried tradition of products,” explains AAMP executive director Steve Krut.
The criteria, Krut says, isn’t just a matter of what products taste best, but the type and amount of competitions that sausage makers have entered and won. “We established that with the idea not only of recognizing people doing a paramount job today but those who are the greatest in our industry,” he adds. NP
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
So what sets sausages from the Masters apart from the others in a competitive retail and foodservice marketplace? Besides the fact that they are created by the world’s most experienced and skilled producers, the quality of the products helps distinguish the common from the incomparable.
For some, the quality starts with the meat itself. “We don’t use byproduct,” states Helmut Wagner.
As for the type of meat, beef and pork remain the perennial favorites. “Nothing takes seasoning like pork, so we use a lot of pork butts. For summer sausage, dried beef, and jerky, we use beef,” reports Joe Leonard, who also processes custom sausages for local farmers who bring cuts like pork hocks into his market.
Bruce Aidells started out making many of his sausages using pork, and then added poultry as chicken took off in popularity in the 1980s. “It was a marketing request more than anything. My salesperson said people thought eating chicken was healthier than pork, which isn’t what I necessarily believe, but we started making that, too,” he recalls, adding that the concept has been a sustained hit. Aidells’ use of chicken, in fact, helped start the trend of gourmet poultry sausages that began in the 1990s and continues today.
At Vienna Beef, all products start with beef. As with pork, the quality of the raw material directly relates the quality of the final product, says Christel Wiedle. “We use bull meat, cow meat, and choice trimmings. You need the good protein from lean meat and some nice, good fat,” she explains.
Meanwhile, those who continue the tradition of Old-World sausages, especially from Europe, try to stay true to the type of meat used for a particular variety. “If you go to a Bavarian region and make a Bavarian brat, for example, you have to have certain type of spices and a certain type of veal or pork,” points out Benz.
Beyond the choice of meat, the type of grind is a point of differentiation. “When you look at a Polish in Europe, it is a very course grind with a bite to it. In this country, they grind it much finer, so no one bites in gristle or bone chips because they don’t hand-select meat much anymore,” points out Klaus Benz.
Whatever meat is used, seasoning is a key consideration for top-notch sausage products, say the Sausage Masters. “Number one, we produce with less salt. When you do that, you have a higher standard of quality ingredients,” asserts Wagner. “I also don’t use any sugars or sweeteners, like some of the big processors who use the ultimate in salt and cover it up with sugar.”
Aidells also believes in the natural order of things, so to speak. “I never used any kind of flavoring or extract. I feel that all sausages I have ever tasted that are not using actual spices or herbs have a similar what I call a manufactured or commercial taste,” he explains. “I wanted my sausage to taste like it was made in your own kitchen, which is where mine were originally made.” Over the years, Aidells has used fresh salt, pepper, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, and apples, to name a few of his favorite ingredients.
As Wagner points out, however, flavors in this country tend to be based on local tastes. “Seasoning is such a regional thing,” he says, adding that while traditional varieties of sausages with Old-World seasonings still sell briskly at his market, customers are expanding their palettes. “I have had to make more hot-and-spicy products. I don’t like hot stuff personally, but that is what the people like.”
Casings are also extremely important to a good sausage, given that the casing is what provides the distinctive bite or snap of the product. “We use a lot of natural casings like the casings they used years ago. It’s a nice presentation to have that,” says Leonard.
Other Masters use both natural casings and synthetic casings, like collagen or cellulose, depending on the product. Wagner and Muench, for example, have both on hand in their markets. “We have natural casings, but with concerns about mad cow disease I switched to collagen casing. It’s worked out for me,” he says. “You still have a bite to it, and you can process it on high-speed equipment.”
Just as they use a range of meats, seasonings, and casings, American Sausage Masters also mix it up in terms of methodology. Some use the latest in equipment technology, while others work in smaller batches and in a more manual way. That’s true for mixers, grinders, tumblers, stuffers, and linkers, as well as smokehouses and ovens.
However they make it, one is likely to find an authentic Sausage Master doing some personal quality control right in the kitchen or on the line. As Wagner says, “If it comes out of a smokehouse, it may look right, but you have to taste it. No product goes out of here that I don’t taste.” NP
Sausage Masters in this country certainly are known for their broad array of offerings – some of their plants and markets even sell hundreds of varieties of sausages. That said, there are some specialties of the house, and some personal favorites:
Louie Muench, Jr., Louie`s Finer Meats Inc.: The Wisconsin Brat, an all-beef summer sausage with made-in-Wisconsin ingredients like maple syrup, dried cranberries, honey, and Cheddar Cheese. Also known for the Packer Brat, a bratwurst with Sauerkraut and Cheddar cheese. Won Gold Medals at a Frankfurt, Germany sausage-making competition for his summer sausage and cotto salami.
Bruce Aidells, founder of Aidells Sausage Co.: Known for turning the Chicken and Apple poultry sausage a new American classic. Also recognized for upping the profile of Andouille sausage, which he was first introduced to while learning about gumbo in New Orleans.
Helmut Wagner, Walter`s Meats: Known for Bavarian-style liverwurst and bratwurst, although he also sells a variety of Italian sausages and Andouille sausages.
Joe Leonard, Farmers Place: Won national contests for his Mortadella. Won international contests for a variety of his sausages.
Klaus Benz, Poly-clip System: Prefers the specialties of his region in Germany. Won a Gold Medal during his apprenticeship in Germany for his liver sausage. NP
Know Your Sausage
Bangers (British or Scottish Style, made in USA): Sausage-like product prepared with meat and varying amounts of rusk or other cereals.
Berliner-Style Sausage (cooked, smoked sausage): Made of cured, coarsely-ground pork and some mildly-cured, finely-chopped beef; contains no seasoning other than sugar and salt; available in rolls or packaged slices.
Blood Sausage (cooked sausage): Diced, cooked fat pork, finely-ground cooked meat, and gelatin-producing materials mixed with beef blood and spices.
Blood and Tongue Sausage (cooked sausage): Cooked lamb and pork tongues are arranged lengthwise in the center of a roll of blood sausage.
Bockwurst (fresh sausage or cooked sausage): Made of veal and pork (generally higher proportion of veal), with milk, chives, eggs, and chopped parsley; seasoning is similar to frankfurters, but may have additional condiments; available fresh or parboiled; highly perishable; requires thorough cooking.
Bologna (cooked, smoked sausage): Originated in Bologna, Italy; made of cured beef and pork, finely ground, with seasonings similar to frankfurters; available in rings, rolls, or slices of varying diameters; fully cooked and ready to serve. Beef Bologna is made exclusively of beef and has a definite garlic flavor. Chub Bologna is a smooth mixture of beef and pork with bacon added. Ham-Style Bologna contains large cubes of lean cured pork.
Boterhamworst (cooked, smoked sausage): Dutch-style sausage made of veal and pork, finely chopped and blended with coarsely chopped pork fat and seasonings.
Bratwurst (fresh sausage, cooked or smoked sausage): Pork or a pork and veal mixture; highly seasoned; made in links, and available both fresh and fully cooked.
Braunschweiger (cooked sausage): Liver sausage that has been smoked after cooking, or includes smoked meat as ingredients.
Capacolla (prepared meat): Italian origin; boneless pork shoulder butt seasoned with ground red-hot or sweet peppers, paprika, salt, and sugar; mildly cured and air dried.
Cervelat (semi-dry sausage): General classification for mildly seasoned smoked, semi-dry sausages. Popularly termed "Summer Sausage". There are a variety of summer sausages, in turn:
Farmer Cervelat contains equal parts of coarsely chopped pork and beef; cured, dried, and delicately seasoned without garlic.
Goettinger Cervelat is a high-quality, dry, hard sausage; pork and beef; delightfully spiced.
Goteborg Cervelat is made of coarsely chopped pork and beef; heavily smoked, seasoning is salty and somewhat sweet from the spice, cardamon; of Swedish origin.
Gothaer is a cervelat of German origin; made only of very lean pork, finely chopped, and cured.
Holsteiner Cervelat is similar to farmer cervelat, but packed in a ring-shaped style.
Landjaeger Cervelat is a semi-dry sausage of Swiss origin; beef and pork; heavily smoked with a black, wrinkled appearance; in links the size of large franks, but pressed flat.
Thuringer Cervelat is a popular semi-dry sausage made of beef and ham or pork fat; distinctive tangy flavor; mildly spiced.
Chorizo (dry sausage): Dry pork sausage of Spanish origin; meat coarsely cut; smoked; highly spiced, and has a size similar to large frankfurters, one-inch links also made for sausage balls.
Frankfurters (cooked, smoked sausage): Originated in Frankfurt, Germany; combination of beef and pork or all beef, which is cured, smoked, and cooked; seasonings may include coriander, garlic, ground mustard, nutmeg, salt, sugar, and white pepper; fully cooked but usually served hot; terms "frankfurter," "wiener" and "hot dog" often used interchangeably; sizes range from big dinner frankfurters to tiny cocktail size; may be skinless or with natural casings.
Frizzes (dry sausage): Cured lean pork, chopped coarsely and a small quantity of cured lean beef; highly spiced. Some varieties made with hot spices, some with sweet spices.
Goetta (cooked meat specialty): Fully-cooked sausage of German origin similar to scrapple; made with ground pork and/or beef, oats, herbs and spices; available in rolls and slab form.
Honey Loaf (cooked meat specialty): Meat mixture similar to franks and bologna; contains about equal parts of pork and beef. Flavorings include honey, spices and sometimes pickles and/or pimentos.
Kielbasa: See Polish Sausage.
Knackwurst (cooked, smoked sausage): Similar in ingredients to franks and bologna with garlic added for stronger flavor; made in wide natural casings or in skinless styles; fully cooked, but usually served hot; also known as Knoblouch or Garlic Sausage.
Linguica (uncooked, smoked sausage): Portuguese sausage made from coarsely-ground pork butts, seasoned with garlic, cumin seeds, and cinnamon, cured in vinegar pickling liquid before stuffing; smoked; also called Longanzia.
Liver Sausage, Liverwurst (cooked sausage): Finely ground, selected pork and livers; seasoned with onions and spices; may also be smoked after cooking or may include smoked meat such as bacon. (See Braunschweiger)
Lola or Lolita (dry sausage): Italian origin; made of mildly-seasoned pork; contains garlic.
Lyons Sausage (dry sausage): An all-pork sausage with finely-diced fat; of French origin; seasoned with spices and garlic; cured, and air dried.
Mettwurst (uncooked, smoked sausage): Cured beef and pork, ground and lightly-spiced with allspice, ginger, mustard and coriander, smooth; spreadable consistency; cook before serving.
Mortadella (semi-dry sausage): Italian-style sausage composed of very finely-chopped, cured pork, and beef with added cubes of white fat; delicately spiced with garlic and anise; smoked at high temperature; air dried.
Mortadella, German Style (cooked meat specialty): High grade, finely-chopped bologna with cubes of fat pork and pistachio nuts added; smoked at high temperature.
New England-Style Sausage (cooked, smoked sausage) A Berliner style sausage made of coarsely chopped cured lean pork.
Polish Sausage (uncooked, smoked sausage): Coarsely ground lean pork with beef added; highly-seasoned with garlic; frequently referred to as Kielbasa, which was originally a Polish word for all sausage.
Pork Sausage, Fresh (fresh sausage): Made only from selected fresh pork; seasoned with black pepper, nutmeg, and rubbed sage, or other spices; sold in links, packaged patties, or bulk; thorough cooking is required.
Pork Sausage, Italian Style (fresh sausage): Fresh pork sausage, highly seasoned; cook thoroughly.
Pork Sausage, Smoked Country Style (uncooked, smoked sausage): Fresh pork sausage, mildly cured and smoked; cook thoroughly.
Salami (dry sausage): General classification for highly-seasoned dry sausage with characteristic fermented flavor. Usually made of beef and pork; seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar. Most are air dried and not smoked or cooked. There are a variety of salamis:
Arles is a salami of French origin; similar to Milano, but made of coarsely-chopped meat.
Beerwurst is a cooked sausage of German origin; beef and pork, chopped and blended; seasoning includes garlic; cooked at high temperatures; smoked. Packaged in slices or in bulk rolls for slicing. (See Cooked Salami).
Calabrese Salami is a dry sausage of Italian origin; usually made from all pork; seasoned with hot peppers.
Cooked salami is made from fresh meats, which are cured, stuffed in casings, and then cooked in the smokehouse at high temperatures. May be air-dried for a short time; softer texture than dry and semi-dry sausages. Cooked salamis are not dry sausage. They belong to the cooked sausage group and must be refrigerated.
Cotto Salami is a cooked salami; contains whole peppercorns; may be smoked as well as cooked.
Easter Nola is a dry sausage of Italian origin; coarsely-chopped pork; mildly seasoned; spices include black peppers and garlic.
Genoa Salami is a dry sausage of Italian origin; usually made from all pork, but may contain a small portion of beef; moistened with wine or grape juice; seasoned with garlic; a cord is wrapped lengthwise and around the sausage at regular intervals.
German Salami is less highly flavored and more heavily smoked than Italian; contains garlic.
Hungarian Salami is less highly flavored and more heavily smoked than Italian salami; contains garlic.
Italian Salami includes many varieties named for towns and localities, e.g., Genoa, Milano, Sicilian; principally cured lean pork, coarsely chopped, and some finely-chopped lean beef; frequently moistened with red wine or grape juice; usually highly seasoned with garlic and various spices; air-dried; chewy texture.
Kosher Salami is an all beef cooked salami. The meat and the processing are under Rabbinical supervision; mustard, coriander, and nutmeg added to regular seasonings. (See Italian Salami).
Salsiccia (fresh sausage): Made of finely-cut pork; highly spiced; unlinked; Italian origin.
Scrapple (cooked meat specialty): Ground cooked pork combined with cornmeal; other flours may be used in small amounts; available in loaf, brick or rolls, canned.
Smokies (cooked, smoked sausage): Coarsely-ground beef and pork; seasoned with black pepper; stuffed and linked like frankfurters.
Thuringer-Style Sausage (fresh sausage or cooked sausage): Made principally of ground pork; may also include veal and beef; seasoning similar to pork sausage, except no sage is used; may be smoked or unsmoked.
Vienna Sausage (semi-dry sausage): Properly refers to all dry sausage; generally refers to mildly seasoned soft cervelat.
Vienna Sausage (cooked, smoked sausage): Ingredients similar to frankfurters. Term most often applied to small, open-end sausages packed in cans of water. These are made into 80-foot lengths and cut into two-inch portions for canning. The name, Vienna-style sausage, may also be used interchangeably with wiener or frankfurter.
Weisswurst (fresh sausage): Of German origin, the name means "white sausage;" made of pork and veal; mildly spices; links are about four inches long and plump; very perishable.
Wiener (cooked, smoked sausage): Both wieners and Vienna-style sausages take their names from the city of Vienna, Austria. Wiener-style, as originated, is sausage braided in groups of links. Vienna-style frankfurters are twisted into a chain of links. Terms are frequently used interchangeably with "frankfurter" and formula may be the same. (See frankfurter) NP.
Source: National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Washington, DC