Kielbasa is an Eastern European sausage that is usually associated with Poland, but in fact also has variations that come from Germany, Hungary, Russia, and Ukraine! There’s no one type of Kielbasa – it can be prepared in a variety of ways including smoked, dried, and fresh, and can be made using various meats such as pork, beef, turkey, lamb, chicken or veal. Many people in the US are actually referring to Kielbasa Polska (Polish Kielbasa) when they simply say “Kielbasa”, and this is traditionally served with fried onions, sauerkraut, or in stews and casseroles. Here at NetCost Market, we’ve got all the essential information you need to really understand Kielbasa and its different variations!
Polish Kielbasa has become such a popular variation that the Polish Government has gained protection from the European Union to keep this regional food protected, meaning that imitations made outside of Poland are not allowed to be named Polish Kielbasa! The high garlic content gives this sausage its typical salami-style flavor, but the very high-fat content means that the texture is often softer, and the taste is almost creamy when compared to other varieties of European garlic sausage.
Everyone knows about bratwurst and frankfurter sausages, but what you may not know, is that Germany also has many types of Kielbasa, which is quite logical as it borders Poland. Germans like to eat their Kielbasa with mustard, sauerkraut and a big tankard of beer, and it’s very popular as a bar snack at the Bavarian Octoberfest beer festival. Unlike the Polish variety, Germans mix a little beef with their Kielbasa, making it slightly leaner than the Polish variety. It is then cold smoked for at least two days, giving it a distinctly smoky flavor!
Further east, the Russians have also been busy making their own variation of Kielbasa. In Russia, where winters are particularly long and hard, the salting, smoking and air-drying techniques that characterize Kielbasa were predominantly useful for preserving food that could be stored in case crops failed or seasons were particularly harsh. In this sense, Kielbasa was particularly important to the development of the country and its people. The most common type of Russian Kielbasa is a preserved sausage that is boiled before being smoked. It traditionally lasts for about 15 days (although nowadays with modern refrigerators, it can last much longer) and was a favorite for people going out into the wilderness on hunting expeditions!
It really is amazing that a simple sausage can unearth so much history, but here we have shown exactly that! Next time you’re at the grocery store; don’t forget the importance of that simple dried or smoked sausage that you see on the shelf of the meat aisle. At NetCost Market, we want to educate you about the best food that Europe has to offer, and Kielbasa is truly a European great. We believe that the best way to learn is through trying them out for yourself, so next time you’re in store, grab yourself some Kielbasa and discover the taste of Eastern Europe for yourself.