Friday, 24 August 2012


During the 34 hours of summer that it hasn't been raining we had a family BBQ. I took along some of the spicy lonzino and while chowing down I was asked what I was going to attempt next. Now, I really want to get the fermented sausage thing nailed (see the red wine salami debacle), it opens up a whole world of possibilities in terms of sausage making.

Pfefferbeißer are a dried, smoked, peppery German sausage made in sheep casings. Now, you might be thinking "Ah, like a Pepperami". No. Pfefferbeißer are to Peperami what The Empire Strikes Back is to The Phantom Menace. They are similar only in that they can both be called sausage. The pepperiness comes from a mixture of ground and whole peppercorns. When you're eating one you'll get an explosion of pepper every now and then as you bite into a peppercorn (in a good way; not a face melting pepper explosion).

That's George Lucas in the background working on another re-release of The Phantom Menace
image: D. Kitchenham

A quick Google search turned up 6–7 recipes, all in German, all different. Being half German, the first bit wasn't too hard. The second bit was more challenging – the only consistent thing between the recipes was the name. Some recipes called for pure pork (a couple used a percentage of speck), another for a mixture of pork and beef, yet another for pure beef; one even said to use lamb, which is all kinds of wrong.

Now, the ingredients: pepper (obviously); cure #2 and salt, were followed by what seemed a random mix (pick 5 of the following say) of: paprika (sweet and/or hot); nutmeg; allspice; garlic; caraway; coriander; marjoram; celery powder; chili powder; brandy. Some recipes used a starter culture and glucose, others didn't. The majority of recipes called for a period of cold smoking before the sausages were dried; but I only found one website that named the wood (beech).

Clearly people have developed a recipe according to their personal taste and I'll have to do the same. After quizzing family members for their thoughts I came up with the following recipe. It's pretty minimal (compared to the others) but, if after the first batch I feel something is missing, I'd rather add to it than have to choose from a mass of ingredients to eliminate one by one.


Ingredient Percentage of meat + fat
Pork shoulder
Pork back fat
Cure #2
Black peppercorns (whole)
Black pepper (ground)
Paprika (sweet)
Milk powder
T-SPX culture
2 tsp

Meat and fat are tentatively introduced to one another.
Essentially a charcuterie first date – will they hit it off?
If you can find a butcher that will supply you with back fat I strongly recommend it. I got half a kilo of back fat for £1.90 – cheaper than your morning triple venti, sugar-free, soy milk, no foam, extra-shot-of-espresso macchiato (or whatever).

Like the Spice Girls, these spices have
solo albums that you've never heard of
The spices were weighed out ready to add to the meat before grinding.

Meat, fat and spices – together at last
The meat and spices were mixed together and ground through the coarse plate. The fat was ground separately then mixed with the meat and fat. Notice the myosin strands clinging to the sides of the bowl indicating a good bind.

The pfefferbeißer were left to ferment at room temperature for 48 hours, after which I tested the pH of the mix with some strips to make sure the pH had dropped enough (~pH 5.2). It had. I cold smoked the sausages over beech wood for 12 hours using my trusty Pro-Q CSG.


The pfefferbeißer were put into the curing chamber to dry. Now we wait.

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