Summer Sausage History & FAQ
Way back when William F. “Doc” Nolechek bought the Thorp Meat Locker & Soda Fountain (how’s that for a business mash-up?!), Summer Sausage was already a popular item in Wisconsin.
Today, we’re here with some Meaty Facts on Wisconsin’s Favorite Cheese & Cracker Add-On, a Midwestern classic stand-by Summer Sausage!
Q: What are those little, round yellow things in Summer Sausage?
A: The little, round yellow things in (some) Summer Sausage are mustard seeds. Mustard seeds are a traditional ingredient in Summer Sausage and they add a little extra zip to each slice!
Q: Why is it called Summer Sausage, anyway?
A: The term “Summer Sausage” traditionally applies to any sausage that can be kept without refrigeration, or, as we say in the meat biz, any sausage that is “shelf-stable.” In Wisconsin, where we consume (and produce) a large portion of the Summer Sausage made in the U.S., some brands are shelf-stable and others require refrigeration. Back in the day, German immigrants brought their family recipes from the Old World to our area and, for the most part, we’re still doing things pretty much the same way they did, with the exception of sometimes adding in some Wisconsin Dried Cranberries or Blueberries. So, it’s not called Summer Sausage because of when it’s made; it’s named so because it is a semi-dry sausage that has been fermented. Traditionally, it kept even in summer, and it was super valuable to have protein that could be stored without refrigeration…since, you know, there wasn’t any! Nolechek’s summer sausage does require refrigeration, as we don’t process it to shelf stable specifications.
Q: Why does Wisconsin love Summer Sausage SO MUCH?!
A: This is a food that plays an important role in Wisconsin food history, because so many of our ancestors who immigrated here from Europe brought their love for it with them. Some other areas of the country that enjoy Summer Sausage, or sausages very much like it, are North Dakota and Pennsylvania.
Q: Summer Sausage should always be served cold or at room temperature, right?
A: Actually, not only is Summer Sausage delicious served at room temperature – and we Wisconsinites LOVE crackers and cheese served with Summer Sausage; it’s the best snack ever! It’s also amazing if you gently brown the slices. Summer Sausage is delicious in a variety of recipes, as a pizza topping, roasted alongside cubed potatoes, or in roasted one-pan (sheet pan) dinners. Yum!
Nolechek’s has German Butcher’s Association DFV-AAMP Quality Competition Gold Medals (and one silver) under its belt from 2017 and 2019. We took a little break from competing in 2020 (didn’t everyone?). But that didn’t stop us from continuing to come up with delicious Summer Sausage recipes. Some are traditional, like our Beef Summer Sausage with Mustard Seed, and some have a more modern twist, like our Beef & Garlic Summer Sausage with Dried Cranberries.
Here’s a list of all the Hickory Smoked Summer Sausage varieties we currently craft at our butcher shop and smokehouse in Thorp, Wisconsin:
- Hungarian Style Garlic Summer Sausage with Sweet Paprika
- Plain Beef & Pork Summer Sausage
- Beef Garlic Summer Sausage
- Beef Garlic Summer Sausage with Mustard Seed
- Beef Garlic Summer Sausage with Dried Cranberries
- Beef Garlic Summer Sausage with Dried Blueberries
- Beef & Pork Garlic Summer Sausage with Cheese
- Beef & Pork Garlic Summer Sausage with Cheese & Dried Cranberries
- Beef & Pork Garlic Summer Sausage with Cheese & Dried Blueberries
- Garlic Summer Sausage with Jalapeno Peppers & Cheese
- Venison & Pork Garlic Summer Sausage
Stop in on your way through town; we’re located in Thorp, Wisconsin, just off Wisconsin State Highway 29. We also ship our award-winning hickory smoked bacon, ham, and sausages all over the United States, so head to our site to place an order.
Now you know the sumptuous sausage facts. Thanks for investigating Summer Sausage with Nolechek’s Meats!