Summer Sausage

Yesterday there was some summer sausage being cut up, and I got to wondering – why is it called summer sausage? I've never seen or heard of winter, fall, or spring sausage, so being named after the season seemed like an easy but wrong conclusion. I started to wonder if the "official" name for this type of sausage was something that sounded like "summer" and the sausage makers just decided to go easy on our poor american tongues rather than make us pronounce (or mispronounce) another german word.

I was going to ask you guys what you thought, hoping for some creative responses – and I still will.. creative the hell out of it….. if you can. But fortunately (un?), wikipedia actually answered my question:

Summer sausage is the general term for any sausage that can be kept without the need of refrigeration. Summer sausage is usually a mixture of pork and other meat such as beef and venison. Summer sausage can be either dried or smoked, and curing ingredients can vary significantly, although some sort of curing salt is almost always used. Seasonings may include mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic salt, or sugar.

In spite of its name, summer sausage actually tends to be made in the autumn, during traditional hunting seasons in North America and Europe. Summer sausage, like all sausages, makes use of leftover scrap meat and organ meat that would otherwise be wasted.

A particular kind of summer sausage is popular in North Dakota, occasionally containing cheese in addition to meat. This type of summer sausage is smoked rather than dried and is generally best kept and eaten cold, though it can be cooked.

I want cheesy North Dakotan summer sausage!

(If you can come up with an explanation of "summer sausage" involving Martians (Marsians!), you win!)

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