The Covered Dish - Summer Sausage & Thuringer

March 15, 2023

This is probably going to become one of my most intriguing columns. You can thank my dad, Jerry, for the content, well, I should be saying inspiration. I introduced Thuringer to my immediate family around 2010. Everyone ate it, comparing it to summer sausage and I continued to purchase it, ever so often.

Recently I introduced it to my dad. Now he has small Ziploc bags of it in his freezer for snacking. I couldn’t believe my dad, at the wonderful age of 91, had never heard of it, let alone passed it across his palate.
Prepare for a journey back to the 15th century, yes my friends, it goes that far back. Actually additional research shows this old fashioned German meat was used before World War II. There are varying articles regarding how it is served and prepared. In the old days it was served mostly cold, and not hot. Times change and it becomes smoked like summer sausage. When canning was a prominent way of preserving this sausage was made into patties and preserved.

What goes in Thuringer? Usually a mix of beef & pork, both very well ground, and often made from the poorer cuts of meat. Many times it was seasoned with salt, smoked bacon, coriander, caraway, marjoram, pepper and even unique ingredients like lemon. It started in a Germany region called Thuringer. The original name was: ‘Thuringer Bratwurst’ because it was actually made into a sausage style much like a brat. They were cooked on a grill or stove much like folks do today. However like different types of pasta, the presentation of Thuringer changed through the years, in this nation we usually see it in a presentation like summer sausage. You can even make it fresh at home like a sausage patty. In the old days the curing time was about a month.
Thuringer was sold raw in markets and you took it home to cook. Usually it was basted with beer on both sides. In the home or on a grill you are encouraged to cook it on low/medium heat because high heat will cause all the fat content to dry out. Remember when the liquid is removed from fat cells salt will take its place, which can enhance flavor. I make this comment because a local friend commented when she cooks Thuringer the salt comes to the top. One thing to remember about Thuringer is it has a higher fat content than other cured meats so it could go bad at a faster rate. Always read the expiration label on this product. If it’s close to expiration, slice it and freeze, like my dad does. Also you will find the carbohydrates much lower in this form of sausage.

If you’re smoking the sausage yourself hardwoods are recommended, especially beech or oak. Germans usually serve their thuringer with cabbage dishes.
One factor I find very interesting is the fact that it contains very few artificial ingredients and its low on preservatives and chemicals. Perhaps this is another good reason to make your own summer sausage. (It’s the reason I do) Do consider removing the casings on your thornier, it can be tough and it doesn’t always contain healthy things.

Whether you are making a summer sausage or Thuringer there is going to be salt. This lowers the PH level in meats of this nature, which helps prevent bacteria. Remember you don’t use regular salt for this type of meat, usually its curing salts.

If you make your own summer sausage and prepare it using liquid smoke I highly encourage you to go on line and purchase an organic liquid smoke. NO nitrates and it’s so much better for you. You might want to get 2 bottles because there are lots of places you could put liquid smoke, especially if it’s good for you. *Hint

I like it in my baked beans.
There is a subject on something called: ‘cutter phosphate’ I would like to address briefly. I don’t think it is used as prominently today as it was in times past. It was added to older meats mixed with ice to restore the binding ability. Which is lost as a meat ages. (We could chatter on this subject for a very long time.)

OK, how much does it cost and where do I get it? The last few times I purchased Thuringer in a market, I have paid very low prices like 3.99 lb. However that was usually in a Mennonite or Amish market. At a local grocery store within 8 miles from my home it is currently selling for 13.99 a lb. I know, shocker isn’t it?
Actually the first time I had Thuringer was from our local Harter House Market here in the Ozarks. The guys at the meat counter knew me well because of my culinary work at Silver Dollar City. They enjoyed teaching meats and introducing me to new things.
Recipe? I don’t have one yet! I’m going to let you go on line and pick one you like. What I might do here is give you a little comparison to my summer sausage recipe. I’m not going to give all the instructions we’re just going to study amounts as if I were writing a Thuringer recipe, keyword IF!!!

Summer Sausage & Thuringer

Summer sausage:

5 lbs. ground chuck
5 teaspoons curing salt
4 teaspoons ground mustard
4 teaspoons pepper
3 teaspoons garlic salt or powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, could omit
7 teaspoons liquid smoke
Full recipe in my first cookbook
I think if I used some pork my summer Sausage would be moister


3 lbs. ground pork

2 lbs. ground beef

4 tsps. ground mustard

4 tsps. gr. Black pepper

1 tsp. marjoram

1 1/2 tsps. caraway

3/4 tsp. mace

1/2 – 1 tsp. paprika

1/2 -1 tsp. allspice

3/4 tsp. mace
1/2 – 1 tsp. lemon zest

5 tsps. curing salt

Keep in mind if you’re just making Thuringer patties you don’t want to use curing salt, perhaps just a teaspoon or two of regular salt. You can always create your own sausage patties at home, with your favorite mixes of spices. My mom used to do so with fresh turkey all the time. Deer hunters you will also find Thuringer recipes using your fresh venison.

Well, I told you this column would be different. Now you’ll have to go find some Thuringer and try it! Simply Yours, The Covered Dish.