By Gwen Schock Cowherd
There always was a canned pint jar of leberwurst (liver sausage) in my German Russian home refrigerator. The whole family loved it. We smeared it on toast with mayo for breakfast and whenever a snacking urge hit. I still crave its' peppery flavor. I never saw how leberwurst was made because the butchering process was done when I was in school, which was a good thing because I wouldn’t have eaten it if I had observed the squeal to jar process. If my parents gave you a jar of leberwurst, you were either a close relative or one of their best friends. They were geitzig (stingy) with the leberwurst.
In the cookbook, "Food ‘N Customs – Recipes of the Black Sea Germans", published by the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS), Bismarck, North Dakota, page 28; Mike Welder describes how to make leberwurst:
Clean the head of a pig by scalding it in hot water and baking soda. Scrape off the hair. Cut the ears off and eardrum sections out. Cut out the eyes. Cut the head through the jaws so the lower half of head is separated. Remove tongue and brain. Remove and throw away the teeth. Cook the meat from the pig’s head for about three hours. Add a small cooked liver and some skin and meat from the head. Add some salt and pepper and garlic juice (soak a head of chopped garlic in about ½ cup hot water and then strain it). If it’s pretty dry, add some fat. Some add cinnamon and flour. Mix well, and then using a sausage stuffer, fill sausage casings with the liverwurst and tie ends. Gently cook sausages in the same water the pig’s head was cooked in for a half hour. Hang the rings of sausage until they are cold. The meat can also be canned in pint jars instead of put into casings. Pressure cook for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure or whatever your canner indicates for pork meat. If you want to make your own casings, take the pig intestines, empty the contents and use a dull knife to scrape the contents out. Rinse well with water to clean. The small intestines were used for this.
I have never found “canned” leberwurst in any grocery store. I realize that if I am again to taste the delicacy, I will have to make it. But, I don’t have the guts. I’ve been considering getting my German Russian friends together to partake in the laborious grind thinking that camaraderie would help alleviate the tediousness. We would definitely skip the pig head cleaning and jump right to the grinding of the meat supplied by my favorite butcher, but does he have head skin? I’m also scared of pressure cookers. I have heard the story many times of my grandmother’s blowing up and how she washed green beans off the kitchen ceiling and walls for days. What if us softies, who are used to buying our meat both white-wrapped and in see-through packaging, do not have the intestinal fortitude to face the pressure cooker of sausage processing? What would I then do with all those body parts? So, I have no picture capturing leberwurst in a jar to share with you. I’m sorry. Later I’ll write about blood sausage, but again, don’t count on a picture. Do you have a picture to share?