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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 1, 2013
Regional and Traditional Products
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Polish Sausages with EU Logo
March 1, 2013   
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Sausage (kiełbasa) has been a Polish delicacy for centuries. It used to be offered as the first food to guests sitting down to breakfast or dinner.

When Polish cuisine became more sophisticated in the 18th century, it was said that a good cook employed by the gentry should be able to cook kiełbasa 12 different ways, and in an aristocratic home 24 ways. Something of that old love of kiełbasa has survived in Polish people to this day. Polish sausage has become something of a trademark in international cuisine, next to dried forest mushrooms, excellent vodkas, game and pierogi.

Two well-known and appreciated varieties of Polish sausage, kiełbasa myśliwska (hunter’s sausage) and kiełbasa jałowcowa (juniper sausage), were entered in the EU Traditional Specialties Guaranteed register in April 2011.

Kiełbasa jałowcowa has a unique flavor and aroma. These qualities are due to the use of juniper berries in the production process. They are crushed just before being added to the meat and then the sausage’s flavor is enhanced and its unusual aroma augmented by smoking in juniper smoke.

One important ingredient of kiełbasa jałowcowa is pork; the meat has to have a relatively high content of intramuscular fat, called marbling, which gives the final product its desirable tenderness, juiciness and excellent flavor. This is a strongly smoked sausage shaped like a wreath, dark brown in color, slightly wrinkled, with a tender consistency. It is made from the meat of traditional Polish breeds of pig that are fed in a strictly specified way. The sausage owes its special taste and smell to the choice of herbs and spices added to the meat, with natural pepper and juniper berries dominating. The production technology is also traditional, already described in 18th-century Polish records. This sausage is smoked in warm and then cold smoke, using oak chips and juniper branches; after that it is dried for a few days.

The target market for kiełbasa myśliwska, was much wider historically than the hunting fraternity. The sausage’s long shelf life due to drying and smoking and its small size (short, thin sticks) made it the perfect food to take on hikes, journeys and long-term stays in places where food was hard to come by. The special flavor of this sausage is created by carefully selected herbs and spices (pepper, juniper, garlic and sugar). The product has an exceptionally long shelf life.

In the olden days in Poland, hunting and shooting was always the pastime of the aristocracy and gentry, and game was only served at palaces, manors and the homes of wealthy townspeople. A hunter’s equipment always included and still includes a hunting bag in which the hunter carried dry provisions to keep him going throughout a day spent in the woods. Kiełbasa myśliwska was a regular component, a great snack during the day.

Both these types of sausage are made from traditional Polish pig breeds: puławska (Puławy), złotnicka (Złotniki), wielka biała polska (Polish Large White) and polska biała zwisłoucha (Polish White Lop-eared) or their cross-breeds, fed up to a mass of 120 kg. The end product can have up to 50% of the pork replaced with beef.
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