Frankfurter Sausage - is credited to be the original hot dog. To people from Frankfurt, the Frankfurter Würstchen is as important as Weisswurst is to people from Munich. A favorite German sausage that can be eaten hot and cold. Whether as a side for lentil soup, a star ingredient in a sausage goulash or simply enjoyed by itself. Frankfurter Würstchen is cult in Germany.
I lived near Frankfurt for 16 years, so I thought it was only fitting I write a little about its history, and how we eat this sausage in Germany.
What is a Frankfurter Sausage?
A Frankfurter Würstchen is a thin, boiled sausage made from pork and bacon in a sheep casing. The sausage's distinct flavor comes from them being smoked at a low temperature.
The name "Frankfurter" is derived from its hometown Frankfurt. "Würstchen" is diminutive from the German word for sausage "Wurst".
Since the Middle Ages, there is evidence of talk about "Frankfurter Sausages" but then the sausages were mentioned as "Frankfurter Bratwürstchen". They were most likely very different from what we know as "Frankfurter Würstchen" to be today, a lot coarser and less fine. They only started to be smoked at the beginning of the 19th century. [Source: Wikipedia]
These sausages also played an important role in Frankfurt during the coronation of the German Emporers, which took place in Frankfurt between 1562 and 1792. During the coronation feasts, oxes would be grilled and these were said to be the filling for Frankfurter sausages. Thus another name for Frankfurters used to be "coronation sausages" (Krönungs Würstchen).
The name of the sausage "Frankfurter Würstchen" has been protected probably since the 1860s. Since 1929 you are legally only allowed to call a sausage "Frankfurter Würstchen" if it is actually produced in the Frankfurt Region. The blanket term "Frankfurter" is not protected, nor is the term "Wiener Würstchen". This explains why these sausages are known outside Germany as "Frankfurters".
Difference between Wiener Würstchen and Frankfurter Würstchen
Wiener Würstchen are a version of Frankfurter Würstchen. Frankfurter Würstchen are made of exlusivley pork meat. This is because, until the 19th century, a pork butcher and a beef butcher were two different professions and could not be mixed.
The first "Wiener Würstchen" were thought to have been sold in Vienna, Austria in 1805. Their inventor was Johann Georg Lahner, a butcher from Frankfurt. He changed the recipe and added beef to the sausage mixture. At first, the sausages were sold as "Frankfurters" and became world famous. In Germany, these sausages of mixed pork and beef became to be known as "Wiener Würstchen".
Worldwide, these sausages are known as "Frankfurter Sausages" or "European Wiener Sausages". In Austria, by the way, the sausage is known as "Frankfurter". In Germany, you will find "Wiener Würstchen" if the sausages were not produced in the Frankfurt area. Abroad these sausages are also known as German hot dogs.
How did Frankfurter Sausages become hot dogs?
In the 19th century, many Germans left Germany in search of a better life in the United States. This is when Frankfurter sausage or Wiener sausages came to the USA.
It is agreed that German immigrants started selling "Dachshund Würstchen" or "Dackelwurst" in New York in the 1860s. A "Dackel" is a dog breed known as "Dachshund" in English, and the sausages were named after them because they are presumably long and slim, like the dogs. [source: Genussfreak.de]
However, a Polish immigrant called "Nathan Handwerker" is credited to have brought the German hot dog to the masses. He evolved his hot dog stand into restaurants and a hog dog product line.
How to cook Frankfurter Sausages
Frankfurters do not have to be cooked but are warmed up before serving. All you need is a saucepan with water. Bring the water to a boil and then immediately remove the pot from the heat.
Place the Frankfurter sausages in the hot (not boiling) water and leave to warm up for 8-10 minutes before they are ready to consume. The ideal water temperature is around 75°C/ 167°F. This will ensure that the skin of the sausages won't burst.
How to Serve?
In Frankfurt, these sausages are always served in a pair. They are accompanied by a crusty roll (Brötchen) or a slice of rye bread. Another classic side dish for Frankfurter is a potato salad.
There is no need to use cutlery for this regional delicacy. You can just use your hands and dunk them into some ketchup, mustard , or even horseradish - whatever you fancy.
As these sausages are very quick to prepare and can be eaten hot or cold, they are a favorite snack during festivals and popular at children's birthday parties where they are served with fries.
Frankfurter Sausages with potato salad is also a classic Christmas Eve dinner in Germany.
German Potato Salad Recipes to go with Franks
Recipes using Frankfurter Sausages
These sausages are a hit, wherever you are. Their ease of preparation makes them fun to cook with. They are a perfect meat supplement in soups or pasta salads. They are also my preferred choice of sausage for sausage goulash.
Where to by German Frankfurter Sausages?
If you buy Frankfurter Sausages or European Wieners from the butchers, then you can store them in the fridge for up to four days. If it is not possible to keep them refrigerated then it is best to eat them the same day that you buy them.
They are suitable for freezing and will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
More about German Sausages
More Recipes from Frankfurt
How to cook Frankfurter Sausages
- 1 large saucepan
- 2 pairs Frankfurter sausages
- 1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ketchup (optional)
- 1 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
- 1 crusty breadroll (optional)
- 1 slice rye bread (optional)
- Add the water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the pan from the heat source immediately.
- Place the Frankfurter sausages in the hot (not boiling) water. The ideal water temperature is around 75°C/ 167°F. This will ensure that the skin of the sausages won't burst.
- Leave the sausages in the water for approximately 8 - 10 minutes to warm up. Then remove and serve immediately.
- Serve with a crusty role, a slice of rye bread and either mustard , ketchup or horseradish.