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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » December 19, 2013
Polska… tastes good!
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Regional and Traditional Products
December 19, 2013   
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Kabanos Sausage
The origins of the name kabanos date back to the 19th century, when a young pig in Poland and Lithuania was called a kaban or kabanek, and its tender, tasty meat was called kabanina. In the mid-19th century kaban hams, ribs and sausages were made at many farms for families’ personal use. With time the name kabanos started being used for long, thin, dried and smoked sausages made from this meat.

The features that set kabanos sausage apart from other sausages is its original flavor and aroma. These are the result of using traditional production methods, original recipes and quality ingredients. Another special feature of kabanos sausages is their uniform and unique shape—they are long, thin and dry.

The traditional main ingredient in kabanos sausage is pork, and this has to be suitably tender, juicy and tasty. Quality meat and a special selection of traditional spices, including pepper, nutmeg and caraway, determines the distinct character and high quality of the end product.

Important stages of kabanos production include traditional hot smoking, then roasting followed by several days of drying. This is what makes kabanos sausages juicy and tender and gives them their dark, cherry-red color and a glossy, dry and evenly wrinkled surface. Traditional production methods result in sausages that make a special cracking sound when snapped in half.

Kabanos sausages are found on the table on special occasions, but are also great as food on the go. Moreover, next to ham and bacon, they are a Polish export specialty.
The European Commission registered kabanos sausage as a traditional specialty guaranteed on Oct. 20, 2011.

Juniper Sausage—Kiełbasa Jałowcowa
The original character of jałowcowa (juniper) sausage lies in its unique aroma and flavor, the effect of using juniper berries in the production process.

Crushing the berries just before production augments the sausage’s meaty flavor and gives it that something extra, while cold smoking in juniper smoke enriches the flavor further and enhances the sausage’s special aroma. The name kiełbasa jałowcowa can be given to sausage made in a specific way and with traditionally defined and selected ingredients.

Typical traditional sausages in Poland were dark (most likely the effect of smoking), curled and often several meters long. They were a tasty treat served at banquets organized by nobles but also in the homes of wealthy peasants. With time, new types of processed meats developed, along with new methods of production. Their diversity resulted from the various types and amounts of spices used in production.

Recipes, flavors and eating habits were handed down from generation to generation. The tradition of smoking in juniper smoke to preserve meat was known all over the country. We know this from many historical sources, including notes on how to make sausages written down by the anonymous administrator of a manor farm in the 1780s, today housed at the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw. We can also read about the popularity of smoking using juniper branches in Adam Mickiewicz’s epic poem Pan Tadeusz of 1834, where the poet’s description of breakfast at a noble home mentions that all the cold cuts were delicious, all homemade and smoked in the chimney in juniper smoke.

The deliciousness of this particular sausage is due to only the best pork being used. The meat is spiced with pepper and juniper berries and then cured using a traditional dry method involving a special curing mixture.

Quality ingredients and traditional production methods lend juniper sausage an extraordinary tenderness and juiciness. The main factor in achieving the qualities typical for this sausage is hot smoking followed by roasting, giving the sausage an even, dark brown color typical of a strongly smoked product.

Next, the sausage is subjected to cold smoking in smoke produced by burning beech wood chips and juniper branches. The final stage involves several days of drying. As a result of this production process, the surface of the sausage is evenly wrinkled.

The European Commission registered kiełbasa jałowcowa as a traditional specialty guaranteed on April 19, 2011.

Hunting Sausage—Kiełbasa Myśliwska
This sausage’s very name expresses its special character. With a long shelf life and small in size, it is a perfect food to take on hikes, longer journeys or stays in places where hot meals are not an option. Kiełbasa myśliwska was an obvious choice for hunters.

There are many descriptions of meals during hunting trips in literature, including in Poland’s national epic, Pan Tadeusz. A product taken regularly on such trips as a snack was sausage, the kind that was dried and smoked and therefore kept well for a relatively long time. Even though kiełbasa myśliwska’s name links it directly to hunting, over time it gained a broad spectrum of fans. To this day hunting sausage is one of the most popular and frequently consumed processed meats in Poland.

The main ingredient of kiełbasa myśliwska is pork. To make the meat brittle, as this kind of sausage should be, a special aging mixture is added, made up of vinegar, water and rapeseed or sunflower oil. The age-old tradition of making hunting sausage, passed on from generation to generation, enabled the ideal proportion of spices to be determined; these include pepper, juniper berries, sugar and a curing mixture, all of which add to the flavor. Thanks to fresh garlic and a long drying process in the final stage of production, kiełbasa myśliwska has a very long shelf life—this is one of its distinctive features.

The European Commission registered kiełbasa myśliwska as a traditional specialty guaranteed on April 19, 2011.
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