Category: Cured Meats and Meat By-products
Osseworst was first mentioned in 17th century documents. Since it was made from beef it played an important role in the large Jewish community of Amsterdam, but unfortunately decimation of the community during WW II erased one of the pillars of Amsterdam Osseworst.
In old times oxen (Dutch: “ossen”) and cows were fattened on the rich meadows of the Province of Noord-Holland (the area north of Amsterdam). The cattle were imported and came from as far as Holstein and Denmark, walking or by ship. The meat was salted in barrels, the so called “tonnenvlees”, to supply the seagoing merchant vessels. Part of the fresh meat, in particular from the fore quarter, was minced, salted and spiced. The spices were imported to Amsterdam from the newly gained colonies in the Far East. The meat was hand-filled into cattle guts. The sausages were hung for a day or two to dry and smoked in the chimney, in order to increase their preservation qualities.
Cold smoking is an essential element of the production process of real Amsterdamse Osseworst. Chips of oak and/or beech are used and smoke temperature preferably does not exceed 32ºC.
Traditional Osseworst must be coarsely minced (6-8 mm), and contain sufficient fat. The salt and spices (ground white pepper, mace, nutmeg, clove) must be carefully mixed in by hand, to maintain the loose structure of the ‘dough’.
Today most butchers use guts made of hide fibers, because the natural gut can break, and it leaves a particular taste to the meat. Most Osseworst sausages today are made straight, measuring about 6 x 40 cm, though the circular shape is more traditional.
For good Amsterdamse Osseworst the meat must be aged well (hung for at least 10 days), to enhance taste and keeping quality. Also the drying and smoking of the sausages requires some patience (two days). The Osseworst must be consumed within a week, i.e. before the smoke starts to become bitter and the meat acidifies.
Amsterdamse Osseworst is eaten as a ‘spread’ on slices of wheat bread, at breakfast and lunch, or as a snack (slices) in pubs and at parties. It is now produced in Amsterdam and surrounding municipalities.