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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » November 3, 2014
Regional and Traditional Products
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Kindziuk from Puńsk
November 3, 2014   
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One of the best-known products from the Sejny region of Podlaskie province, northeastern Poland, is kindziuk , a dry sausage made from top-quality chopped meat. The know-how for making kindziuk is passed on from generation to generation as a family tradition.

Today the sausage is made in the town of Puńsk, among other places, close to Poland’s eastern border. Kindziuk is a traditional cold-cut typical of Lithuanian cuisine, its name in Lithuanian being skilandis or kindzukas. Lithuanians, who have a tradition of eating meat that stretches way back in history, can be credited with introducing smoked and preserved meat to European cuisine.

The biggest kindziuk sausages were made in pig’s stomachs and could weigh up to 10 kg. Smaller ones, in pig’s bladders, weighed around 1.5 kg. The shape of a kindziuk made in a bladder is round, including the cross-section. A kindziuk made in a pig’s stomach assumes the shape of the stomach, flattened on both sides and with an oval cross-section.

Kindziuks can be smoked but they can also just be dried. The unique flavor and aroma is achieved by adding a Lithuanian spice called boguiej. The wood used in smoking this particular sausage has to come from clean local forests. The flavor is rather salty, with a perceptible smoked-meat tang saturated with spices. The color is brownish on the outside and pinkish when sliced. This color darkens over time.

Kindziuk production has a long tradition; Lithuanians adopted the method from Tatars. In the 19th century the sausage was made by almost every Lithuanian family. It is a very tasty and durable product and thanks to the salt content it can hang in a cool place even when the weather is hot. In the old days meat was needed the most during work in the fields and harvesting—mostly in summer. However, there wasn’t enough time then to make it, which is why kindziuks were made in December. There were no fridges or freezers in those days, making storing meat a big problem. Farmers slaughtered pigs in winter and then processed the meat in a way that ensured it stayed edible as long as possible. Properly made kindziuk can be stored for a long time; the meat loses nothing of its nutritional value, tastes delicious and smells great.

According to traditional recipes, the meat used to make kindziuk should come from a porker weighing about 200 kg. After slaughter the best bits of ham, loin and shoulder were cut into pieces measuring 1-3 cm, salted and mixed with a lot of pepper and garlic. After corning, the meat was crammed tightly into a cleaned pig’s stomach. Next, the stomach was stitched shut. The kindziuk was then hung near the stove to dry and after a time it was taken up to the attic and hung high enough to prevent mice from getting to it.

To protect the sausage from flies and bugs in springtime, it was stored in a tight wooden box used specially for storing meat and called a kra¶nik. In some areas of the Sejny region kindziuk is cold-smoked after drying. A true delicacy, according to some, is kindziuk cut up into small pieces served on homemade whole-grain rye bread with butter. In summer kindziuk can be used to make delicious borscht and sour soups, to which it lends an unusual aroma.
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