Blood Sausages: The Bloody, Spicy Delicacy

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The Blutwurst literally means blood sausage. It is inherently spicy, salty and often presented in a dark almost black colour. There are many variants that can be found, some recipes require them being prepared by using pork, while others suggest the use of beef and beef blood or from fresh pigs blood, diced pork and pork fat. Along with the assorted seasoning, salt and pepper are added for the flavouring part. Sometimes oatmeal or breads are also added. Then in this day and age where everything can be mass-produced there are packaged blutwursts also available and they simply are required to be heated right before being served. Germans usually eat their blutwurst as snacks and accompany it with some sauerkraut.

The composition

Blutwurst or the Blood Sausages have many variants across the Germanic lands. There are some which have to be produced in accordance with the German Food Code which as a matter of fact has categorically defined the amount of meat and meat products that are to be used and at the same time standardised them too within the butcher community. Furthermore, as per the German Food Code there has to be a minimum of 35% of entsehntem lean meat. It is also mandated to include about one percentage worth of crushed liver.

The blood sausage has had a considerably long history, going back over a thousand years. Along the same lines new recipes and variations of the old developed during such a long time because of migration. However, thematically speaking they have had a similar base. Interestingly, in the United Kingdom and Ireland for instance its variety is called black pudding, in Boudin in France, Morcilia in Spain, Jelito in the Czech region, in Poland it is called Kaszanka, and Mustamakkara in Finland.

The main ingredient of the blood sausages are:

  • Blood: It can be taken from the pig, sheep, lamb, cow or the geese. Preferences are only a matter of choice and regionally varieties.
  • Fillers: These include: oatmeal’s, buckwheat, breadcrumbs, barley or other grains of choice.
  • Onions and regular spices.

With these ingredients ready, they are crushed together and then filled within a sausage casing. Then there comes the crucial part.

Blood sausages can then be transformed into two versions: the first one is sliceable and typically consumed cold along with bread, and the second version which is the non-sliceable version which is fried and served hot along with potatoes, pickles or sauerkraut. Both these versions require certain combinations and slightly different preoperational methods. Thus a formula has been developed in the same regard:

  • The sliceable version: There has to be a combination of: meat from pork head, diced ham tongue, along with the back fat and pork skins. Then finally blood is added.
  • The non-sliceable version: In this case meat is procured from pork head, and jowls, this is then combined with back fat and other fat pieces, pork skins and fillers such as: rice, barley, buckwheat, breadcrumbs, oatmeal or flour. Finally after all of this blood is added.

In terms of the cost of production, it has been observed that the non-sliceable formula is cheaper and hence much more popular than its sliceable counterpart. The non-sliceable version allows for a number of recipes to be created in an economical fashion by only a use of limited imagination.

While selecting the meat

Blood sausages have always been made suing the most inexpensive materials such as: meat from the pork hear, jowls, tongues, groins, skins, pork or veal lungs, pork liver, beef, and lamb liver, pork snouts, beef and liver lips, udders, beef and lamb tripe, veal casings, pork stomachs, pork heart, boiled bone meat and of course blood. Thus in this process a highly nutritious composition was created by utilising almost every part of the animal. Particularly during the time of the wars when meat would become scarce certain kinds of fillers were then added to the sausages to increase their volume. In general terms, the composition of the blood sausage includes: diced and cooked pork fat along with finely grounded cooked meat and gelatine producing materials. They are then mixed with beef or pork blood. They are then mixed together and then stuffed into a casing. It is only occasionally that tongues from pork or lamb are included in this process. With this addition the final product becomes tongue and blood sausage.

The reason as to why fat from the back is used is because it is hard and is the least likely to get smeared. Fat which is present in the butt and jowl region is also quite hard and thus also is used, however, the belly fat or the bacon is very soft and not prescribed. The process requires the back fat to be cut into cubes of 4 to 5 millimetre thickness. They are then blanched in hot water for a short while, roughly 5 minutes. As far as the temperature of the water is concerned it should be between 90º-95º C or 194º-203º F. The reason for doing this is so that the surface of the fat gets sealed and the blood does not enter and discolour the preparation of the fat.

Among the other most important ingredient are the skins. The skins contain collagen which transform into gelatine when they receive the heat treatment. With the creation of the gelatine and the subsequent cooling process a gel is formed which results in the formation of better texture of the sausage. Furthermore, in the case of a sliceable sausage which is typically consumed cold, this process contributes towards the better slicing of the sausages. On the other hand, in the case of the non-sliceable version which is prepared using fillers and is consumed hot, the gel results in the addition of firmness to the sausage.

Just in case if you have skin present on the trimmings of pork butt, you might as well freeze them and later on can also use them along with head cheese, blood, or liver sausages.

Talking about the fillers, they come in a massive variety. Interestingly, as the many number of traditions across the regions so is the number of the filler. Following is a list of fillers and their regions:

  • England and Ireland: Usually you will find rusk, barley, rice, potatoes, flour, or oatmeal.
  • Poland: In this region buckwheat groats, barley, bread crumbs, rice, semolina among other hold popularity.
  • Spain: Here, milk, rice, eggs, cheese, almonds, pimentos, parsley, apples, et cetera are used.
  • Sweden: Among the popularly used fillers are rye meal and raisins.
  • Argentina: Here, wheat gluten or seitan, corn flour, or flour is used.

Another version of this sausage is called the white blood sausage. It is made from pork without the using blood. The popular versions and their regions are as follows:

  • England: White Pudding which uses diced pork, oats or bread, suet, sugar, onions, and cinnamon.
  • France: Boudin Blanc which uses: pork, milk, parsley, rice, pepper, and onions. Boudin blanc de Rethel carries PGI certificate and must be made without filler material. Pork meat, fresh whole eggs and milk.
  • USA: Boudin Blanc, Cajun Style – they include: pork meat, pork liver, rice, onions, parsley, garlic, and pepper.
  • Poland: White Blood Sausage comprising of: pork meat, pork liver, rice, onions, and marjoram.

From the above list: rice, barley or buckwheat groats, these components require a bit of pre-cooking. As far as groats are concerned, they are quite easily available in any of the super markets; however, most of the recipes and chefs would not advice for the usage of any of the factory processes materials while preparing blood sausages. You can visit the local market area to source groats. In the case of oatmeal’s, they will be required an overnight soak before being used.

When fillers are added to the sausages, it makes the whole process very much economical. Furthermore, with the diversity of fillers available it has become easy to create new exciting varieties of sausages. There is huge number of recipes simply floating across the world. Therefore, it is rather popularly said that it is not the recipe that makes a great sausage, but the way you make it.

Then finally comes the most crucial ingredient, the blood. As far as sourcing the blood is concerned, it can be taken from any animal for that matter including the poultry. Blood from pigs and cows are used most often than any other animal. In the case of the pig blood, it comes with a much lighter colour than any other variety of blood. In the case of cattle, their blood is quite dark, carrying the common brown and sometimes even black tinge. It is said that the darker the colour the older the age of the animal. So you can choose wisely in that case.

Moreover, the one, in-fact the most important characteristic feature of blood that one must keep in mind is that blood is highly perishable because it is comprised of nearly 85% of water therefore attracts bacteria if it is left as it is. Thus it has to be collected immediately and then cooled to about 37°F or 3°C. Blood can then be stored up to 2 days at about 32°F or 0°C. then it has to be processed.

In the case of the sliceable sausages, since they are consumed cold, they end up containing less than 10% blood and therefore, it is much lighter in colour. In the case of the non-sliceable version, these sausages contain 30 % to 60 % blood and therefore are much darker in colour. Another important fact to remember here is that if additional quantities of blood are added to the sausage preparation, in that case, the solid chunks of meat will have a tendency to sink down and then accumulate in one area of the sausage. Sausages which use filler materials, they do not face this problem. The filler material acts like a sponge material and more blood can be added to make the sausage darker in colour.

Coagulation of blood forms solids quite easily and then requires stirring as frequently as possible while the animals are slaughtered. Furthermore, while the mixing process goes on you can add about 5 % of salt so that the blood can be stabilised. Later on you will have to adjust the salt while cooking. Also remember that the blood needs to be cold when it is being mixed with other ingredients. Moreover, before the final use of the blood makes sure that you run it through a cheese cloth so that lumps of blood can be avoided. In any case the blood must be used within a span of 2 to 4 days.

With respect to the older processes, about 5 Kg’s worth of salt used to be added per 100 kg of blood. In this process the blood had to be further stored up to 48 hours at a temperature of 4 to 6 °C or 39 to 42°F. Among the popular processes today, an anticoagulation agent is immersed into the freshly collected blood and then it is stored below 3°C or 37°F for up to 48 hours.

Salt is mainly used as a flavouring agent rather than a preservative. Approximately 1.8 % of the total solution of blood comprises of salt and is also the generally agreed measure. Furthermore, blood sausages generally require spices which are highly aromatic such as pepper, thyme, marjoram, caraway, pimento, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and coriander. Also, onions are added after frying them in fat till the point they reach a glassy stage. If you add fresh onions to the sausages, generally what happens is that the sausages develop a sour taste. In addition to them apples, pine nuts, chestnuts, raisins and cream are also used in the process.


Across the German lands blutwurst or the blood sausages are also available under the names of: Schwarzwurst, Rotwurst, Topfwurst, and Blunzen. They are dark, sometimes almost black and made using fresh pigs blood, diced pork and pork fat, salt, pepper, and assorted seasonings. They can also come in varying sizes, sometimes in links of 6 inches of 2 inches diameter. The others are comparatively larger, having a similar appearance of that of a bologna sausage.


  • Duck fat: ½ cup
  • Large onion: 1 finely chopped
  • Garlic cloves: 4 minced
  • Apples or peers: 2 peeled and finely diced
  • Red wine: ½ cup
  • Pig or Cow blood: 4 cups
  • Fresh breadcrumbs: 1 cup
  • Cream: ¾ cup
  • Grounded pork: 2/3 pound
  • Fresh pork belly: 1 pound finely chopped
  • Salt: 2 to 4 teaspoons
  • Pepper: 1 teaspoon freshly grounded
  • Nutmeg: ½ teaspoons
  • Cayenne: 1 teaspoon
  • Natural hog casing: soaked in water


Take a large sized skillet and place it on heat with the duck fat. Then when the fat caramelises go on adding the chopped onions along with garlic. Cook these ingredients for 5 to 7 minutes till the onions become soft and translucent. You can add apples or pear and then go on sautéing them for 5 more minutes. With all of that done you can next pour in the red wine and deglaze the skillet. Next, you will be required to scrape up the brown bits which might be at the bottom of the skillet. Keep on going till the point the wine almost evaporates. When that happens then you can transfer everything that there is into a large mixing bowl. The bowl should be made of an unreactive material, prefer using the one made of glass or ceramic.

Next, you will be required to take a saucepan and pour some water in it and allow it to simmer. Take a smaller saucepan this time and add the blood into it and then place it on top of the larger saucepan while continuously whisking the blood till it begins to thicken and reaches a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. To get the temperature right, you will have to use an instant read thermometer. When that happens take the saucepan off the heat and set it aside for a minute.

Next, you will be required to mix the breadcrumbs, cream, ground pork, chopped pork belly, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne to the onions and apple or peaches well enough till they combine. In this very mixture pour the hot blood from the saucepan. Now mix everything well till they combine properly. The stuffing for the sausage is not ready.

Next toss everything from the bowl above into a stand-up mixer. To this stand-up mixer attach a sausage attachment or a pastry bag which has a sausage horn. Then you can use the hog casing and start filling them.

Then use a kitchen string tie a double knot on one end of the hog casing while at the same time carefully squeezing out the excess air. When you are done, tie another double knot at the end of the casing and seal it.

Next, take a large pot with heavy base and fill it with water. Then place this pot on heat and allow the water to simmer. When that happens, you can add the sausages. Then cover the top of this pot by using a wet kitchen towel and allow the sausages to simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes. You will also have to check the internal temperature of the sausages by using an instant read thermometer. The temperature that you must be aiming for is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When that is reached, take off the pot from the heat and allow the sausages to cooldown in the same water for a while.

When the sausages cool down you can wrap refrigerate them. These sausages are simply amazing, they can be consumed by simply heating them by using a teaspoons worth of vegetable oil in a skillet and sautéing them until the point they become crisp or they can be broiled.