Is Russian Sausage Pork Or Beef

Many have inquired, but few are aware of the origins of the Russian sausage’s name. Put down your swords, South Africans, because we have some exciting news for you! This favorite treat is actually named after the Russian Kolbasa, a dish that many Russians grew up eating.

It was 1917 and the revolution was over. The Russians were sitting with a food shortage (especially meat). When Anastas Mikoyan traveled to America in search of inspiration, he came across the Bologna sausage. After coming to his conclusions, he returned to Russia and created his own sausage Tada! The Kolbasa. Adding their own unique twist, South Africans created the delicious Russian sausage that has been enjoyed for generations.

Reaching Far and Wide

After World War One, Russians and Eastern Europeans—including those from the Balkans and Eastern Europe—such as those from Germany, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia—became experts in it. They also introduced this technology to America. Due to a lack of meat, records exist in Russia indicating that even kolbasa was produced using extenders and fillers (Russiaperia)

The use of meat supplements and extenders as emulsifiers and fillers was invented by people from the Russian steppe and the surrounding areas; this was likely influenced by their centuries-old soup making techniques. Following the war, when there were acute meat shortages in America, fine emulsion sausages gained popularity. The Hungarian sausage, named after the people who brought them the technology, is the same sausage that is sold as a Russian in South Africa but is sold in Central Africa. They don’t include the showpieces when they produce it, but this could change in the future. View my piece “Protein Functionality, the Bind Index, and the Early History of Meat Extenders in America” for more information on this topic. ”.

The Lituanian Revelation From the website:

Two papers I completed in 2023 significantly influenced how I thought about Russian sausages. One is “The Gluckman Project,” in which I follow the brothers Maurice and Nathan Gluckman’s journey from Lithuania to South Africa, and the other is Ben-Zion S., a Lithuanian immigrant, who founded a Jewish newspaper in Johannesburg. Hersch, “The Jewish Standard. This was a significant introduction to the largest group of Russian immigrants to South Africa, the Lithuanian Jews.

Lithuania was for some time part of the Russian Empire. Russian domination of Lithuania goes back to the 1700s. In 1795, there was a third division of Poland, which was also referred to as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This division left Russia, Prussia, and Austria in control of most of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as well as the territory of Lithuania. Vilnius and other parts of eastern Lithuania were occupied by Russian forces.

For more than a century, Lithuania was a part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by Russia. Lithuania proclaimed its independence from Russia on February 16, 1918, and became the Republic of Lithuania. With this proclamation, its official affiliation with the Russian Empire came to an end. Therefore, it is likely that Lithuanian Jews, or any other Jewish ethnic group from under the Russian Empire, introduced the sausage, and that the immigrants were called “Russians” in general.

This theory has a serious flaw in that the Lithuanian population was not commonly referred to as “Russians” by the outside world when Lithuania was a part of the Russian Empire (1795–1918). Despite being under the control of the Russian Empire, the people of Lithuania, including the ethnic Lithuanians, maintained their unique national and cultural identities. This also applied to other nations that were part of the Russian Empire.

It did, however, give me a specific direction to search for the sausage. Amongst Lithuanian Sausage I discovered an excellent contender called a Kiełbasa Litewska. It has all the main ingredients for a Russian including showpieces. I will give the following recipe I found on Meat and Sausages.


Meat Metric US
Pork, semi-fat 200 g 0.44 lb
Beef, semi-fat 300 g 0.66 lb
Hard fat trimmings 200 g 0.44 lb
Meat trimmings* 300 g 0.66 lb
Ingredients per 1000g (1 kg) of meat
Salt 20 g 3-1/3 tsp
Cure # 1 2.5 g 1/2 tsp
Pepper 1.0 g 1/2 tsp
Paprika 1.0 g 1 tsp
Allspice 0.5 g 1/4 tsp
Garlic 3.0 g 1 clove

Though a mixture frequently contains ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, ground allspice berries are still allspice. We will include onion powder, cardamon, cumin, and marjoram in South Africa.

How the sausage is made is the interesting bit. Notice the use of fat as “show pieces. In South Africa, a Russian sausage is made precisely like this.


  • Grind pork with 3/8” (8 mm) plate. Grind fat trimmings with 3/8” (8 mm) plate. Grind beef with 1/8” (3 mm) plate. Grind meat trimmings with 1/8” (3 mm) plate.
  • Emulsify ground beef and meat trimmings before adding 2020%%(1200ml, 4 oz/fl) of crushed ice or cold water. Add salt, cure and spices during this step.
  • Mix ground pork, ground fat and emulsified meats together.
  • Stuff into 32 mm hog casings. Form 25-28 cm (10-11”) links and divide into pairs.
  • Hang at 2–6°C (35–43°F) for 12 hours OR at room temperature for one or two hours.
  • Apply hot smoke for 80–100 minutes at 55–60° C (130–140° F) to achieve a light brown color.
  • Sausage should be cooked in water at 72–75°C (161–167°F) for 25–35 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 68–70°C (154–158°F).
  • Cool in water. Refrigerate.
  • OR: bake in smokehouse. During the final phase of smoking, raise the temperature to 75-90°C (167-194°F) for approximately thirty minutes, or until the internal temperature of the sausages reaches 68-70°C (154-158°F). Cool in air to 18°C (64°F) or lower. Refrigerate.
  • Add the following steps to make semi-dry sausages: sausages cooked in water are smoked again for a total of twelve hours (18° C, 64° F) OR six hours (18–32° C, 75–90° F) using warm smoke.
  • Dry sausages (cooked or baked) at 2012–18%C2%B0C (53–64%), 75–80% humidity for 202–3% days, or until sample sausages reach 2086% yield If mold appears wipe it off.

Notes: *meat trimmings: hearts, tongues, beef head meat, pork head meat. (From Meat and Sausages)

Kishka or kishke may have been a contender for the South African version of Russian sausage, but adding grains and serials before soy isolate proteins were available would have made the sausage mushy because less protein meant less hardness and gel formation. A much superior contender is the Lithuanian Kiełbasa Litewska, which has nice firmness and snaps (Knakt) when bit into or bent over until it breaks. There are not many differences between the Lithuanian Kiełbasa Litewska and the Polish Kielbasa in this regard. The main differences relate to the spices used.

An excellent article appears in Taste of Artisan. Victor, the creator of the website did an amazing job of giving the background to a smoked version of the Kielbasa, the Kielbasa Lisiecka which is, what the Lithuanian sausage will look like related to texture and show pieces.

We have not answered two key questions. One has to do with the fact that Jewish store owners use pork to make a sausage, and the other is obvious given the name—a Russian! Let’s start with the pork.

It is simple to argue that, as was and is the case in South Africa, pork was less expensive than beef and that Jewish store owners disregarded their religious objections in favor of financial gain. One of the most well-known Orthodox Jews involved in the pork industry was Aron Vecht, who was also possibly the biggest meat curer in history. I have written extensively about him. From my meat-curing book, Bacon

The issue with this perspective is that Lithuania was at the top of the list of all the locations where the Jewish faith’s sacred texts were strictly interpreted. It is inconceivable that they would have prioritized gain over principal. Money above faith was never an option!.

I learned recently from a British author that it was considered improper for a kosher butcher to produce pork products within the Jewish community. It seems that while it was discouraged, it was acceptable if the Jewish butcher produced his pork at a different facility. Vecht would fit into this category because he owned locations specifically for producing pork all over the world.

Although this discussion may lead us closer to Kielbasa as the original inspiration in terms of structure, the name remains mysterious.