Lack of German Schnapps and Wurst in the United States

When we moved to New York City I was expecting to find some authentic German wurst and schnapps.  Unfortunately, the options have been surprisingly limited.  The only beacon of hope is Schaller & Weber on the Upper East Side, but their prices are prohibitive.  This has leads me down the dangerous path of: “Well if I can’t find it, let me try to make it myself!”  Unfortunately, this also means I start to obsess and become a bit of a Mr. Toad with my new found hobbies.

Example #1:

Schnapps.  Eau de Vie.  Fruit Brandy.  Do not confuse this with the sickly sweet US version of schnapps.  European fruit schnapps that is clear, lacks sweetness, is about 80 proof, and has a delicate smell/taste of fruit.  My favorites would have to include Williams Birne (Pear), Mirabelle (a type of plum), Himbeergeist (raspberry), and Obst (mixed fruit).  Of all the places to buy liquor in NYC, I have only found a few spots that carry this type of alcohol and what they do have is over $50 a bottle.  How does this happen?  In Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium, these 750mL bottles usually run between 6€ and 15€ a bottle.  So what did this road block make me do?  “Well if I can’t find it, let me try to make it myself!”  I found some lovely hand-made copper stills from Portugal and had looked up some recipes and tips on making this type of liquor at home.  My dream quickly shattered when I found out that distilling your own alcohol in the United States is still very illegal.  Damn.  With that said, I have looked up the laws in a few European countries and if you are distilling for your own personal consumption, it is completely legal and easy to get set up.  *reason #50 to move back to Europe*

Example #2:

Wurst: Leoner, Schinkenwurst, Bierwurst, Leberwurst.
Bratwurst: Thuringer, Nurnberger, Weißwurst, Knackwurst, Knoblauchwurst.

These things just don’t exist here in the U.S., and when you do find something that shares the same name, the quality is not even close to what you find in Deutschland.  What does this make me do?  “Well if I can’t find it, let me try to make it myself!”  And away I go…

The first thing I do is go out and buy a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I get books on how to make sausage at home, I search for recipes in German, and I do research on the various steps involved in the sausage-making process.    The hardest part was finding the natural casings I wanted to use, but I ultimately get a batch sent to me and I now possess nearly 60 feet of hog intestine.  I’m so proud.

My first attempt at making Weißwurst will be my next post, so stay tuned.