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German Food

Curious about German Food?
Well, you've come to the right place. 
We're the #1 online merchant for German food, gifts, deli items, and groceries here in the USA.

By Inga Bowyer, President, GermanDeli.com

Legendary Bratwurst

Say the word "bratwurst" to an American and most picture a chubby sausage done to perfection on the grill.  But add the word "Nuernberger" in front of the word "bratwurst and most Americans get a puzzled look.  Germans or American who lived in Germany, however, get a gleam of sheer delight in their eyes and demand to know, Where?!

German law dictates that to carry a food label marked "Nuernberger Bratwurst" in Germany the bratwurst can't exceed a certain size (slightly larger than a breakfast sausage), must be made using a certain age-old recipe, and must be produced within the city limits of Nuernberg, Germany. No variations are tolerated in Germany.

After all, there's a legend surrounding why these delectable sausages must look and taste as they do.  The legend includes dungeons, keyholes, a medieval city, and faithful friends and loved-ones  To check out these authentic German bratwurst and to read more about the legend, please click here.


German and European Cheeses

Cheese

European and German cheeses are sought-after for their outstanding quality and versatility. From the most firm to soft and softest and creamiest, these cheeses highlight an elaborate dinner or a humble supper.

Flavors range from mild and buttery to bold and pungent. There are texture choices for your every preference, from firm to spreadable and everything in-between. As a savory appetizer or as a sweet dessert, you’ll find a cheese to match your craving. Click here to browse our cheese selection.


German Food: Baked Apples using an ApfelbräterGerman Baked Apples using an "Apfelbräter"

Germans welcome autumn with many fine traditions, not the least of which is baking apples in a special ceramic baker called an “Apfelbräter”. It’s the perfect way to cook the apples so that all the delicious flavors from the apples along with the fillings you add can be captured within the apple baker.

When there is a little nip in the air in fall or winter and even through the springtime, it’s so easy to fill your house with the smell of apples baking and topped off by the aroma of fillings that can include combinations of cinnamon, sugar, raisins, marzipan, chocolate, hazelnut spread, butter, vanilla, any variety of nuts, and/or your favorite apple brandy.

The possibilities are truly endless, but the results are all the same: a delicious treat that takes full advantage of the apple harvest. For recipes and more information click here.


German Fleischsalat (Meat Salad)

Summer Salads

German families celebrate the sunshiny days of June with a vast array of cool food options.  Summer salads are king on every German table.  Thinly-sliced cucumbers are tossed in dressings made of oil, vinegar, dill, and spices for a savory salad that is often enhanced with sour cream or yogurt for extra tang.

Cold cuts, like German ring bologna, are often used to make salads that are protein-rich and require absolutely no cooking.  Folks in the Northern half of Germany tend to favor mayonnaise-based salads and Germans closer to Bavaria, where temperatures are typically warmer, lean a bit more toward salads that get their zip from vinegar.

Try this hot weather German favorite:  Spread a slice of hearty German rye bread with a little butter.  Add freshly-sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkled with diced onions and garnished with chopped chives. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Your kitchen stays cool and your stomach will love you.


German Food: Wiener SchnitzelWhat is Wiener-Schnitzel?

Traditional Wiener-Schnitzel (Wienerschnitzel) is a thin cutlet of veal coated in flour, egg, and breading, which is then sauteed in oil and butter until crispy.  However, Germans and Europeans discovered, a long time ago, the joy of occasionally substituting veal with other cuts of meat like pork, poultry (chicken or turkey breast) and even game meats.

 In Austria the term "Wienerschnitzel" is protected by law and specifies "veal" as the meat to be used.  So when you use any other meat for this dish it is proper to refer to it as "Vienna-style pork (chicken, venison, etc.) schnitzel".  On a menu in Europe you might find it listed as: "Schweineschnitzel (Huenerschnitzel, Rehschnitzel, etc) nach Wiener art".

A squirt of fresh lemon can enhance a Wiener-Schnitzel or any type of breaded schnitzel, but also try topping the Schnitzel different ways.  For Jaegerschnitzel add a rich "hunter's sauce" with mushrooms.  For Rahmschnitzel use a luscious cream sauce.  Add a sunny-side up egg to create Schnitzel a la Holstein.


German Food: German SauerkrautGerman Sauerkraut

Any conversation about German cuisine is likely to include praise for “Sauerkraut” as a side dish to compliment many classic German meals.  Savory sauerkraut is a perfect counterbalance to the richness of pork roasts, beef pot roasts, sausages, or game meats.

Sauerkraut is basically fermented white cabbage, using centuries-old techniques for preserving cabbage.  Shredded cabbage is layered with salt with pressure applied to release the juices.  For the popular German “wine sauerkraut” white wine is added during fermentation, adding another depth of flavor and making the sauerkraut mellow and savory.

While sauerkraut can be eaten straight from the can or jar (cold or hot), most Germans prefer to take the sauerkraut to another level.  Slow cooking with one or more of the following can greatly enhance the flavor sauerkraut: Bacon bits rendered until crispy, chopped onions sautéed in bacon grease or oil, a bay leaf or two, a few juniper berries, ground black pepper, and/or caraway seeds.  It’s important to note that while cooking the sauerkraut must not be allowed to dry out or scorch.  Add water, white wine, or broth as needed to retain moisture. Click for purchasing information.


German Schweinehaxen or Roasted Pork Shanks

Schweinehaxen (pork shanks)

Succulent pork, kept moist and flavorful in a cushion of thick, crispy pork skin. There’s no doubt that this classic dish has been around since humans first discovered the fine art of roasting. In Germany, you will often see Schweinehaxen roasting in giant rotisseries at the fairgrounds or in restaurants. However, it’s also an easy dish to prepare at home.

A pork shank, placed into a roasting pan (large-side down) and roasted in an oven at 350°F for four hours is all it takes. We recommend adding at least a half inch of water or beer to the bottom of the pan. The liquid catches the fat that renders from the shank during cooking, and can be later used to create a rich sauce, if you wish.

So, how will you know when your Schweinehaxe is ready to serve? 1) The skin will be hard and deep brown. 2) The meat will have pulled away from the bone. 3) Your house will smell amazing. 4) About four hours will have passed since you put it into your oven. 5) A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the shank will register at least 160°F. One shank can serve between one and 3 people, depending on the size of the shank and the appetite of the eater(s). Click for more info


German Food: German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen)German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen)

No Christmas (Weihnachten) season in Germany is complete without these aromatic cookie specialties made with exotic spices like ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, etc. These spices are combined with varying degrees of sugar, or honey, or molasses, as well as citrus, dried fruits and a variety of nuts. Sometimes crispy or chewy, often soft and delicate, these cookies can be covered in a sugar or chocolate glaze, or left plain. They are sometimes decorated with fruits and nuts.

Germans have honed the art of Gingerbread-baking to a fine art. Soft cookie batters are often placed on edible wafers, not unlike Communion wafers to help keep the cookie from falling apart during baking.

“Lebkuchen” literally means “life cake” and variations are often unique to certain towns or regions in Germany. And every town offers versions of the classic German Gingerbread house, so beautifully described in the German fairytale of “Hansel and Gretel”.

At festivals in Germany, regardless of the time of year, vendors sell giant heart-shaped versions of a crispy Lebkuchen, each one hand-decorated in fancy icing piped onto the cookie to convey messages of endearment or seasonal sentiments. Fest-goers wear them on ribbons tied around their necks.

Click here to see examples of German Gingerbread enjoyed during the Christmas season.


German Schweinehaxen or Roasted Pork Shanks

German Cold-smoked Hams (Schinken)

Famous for their irresistible smoky flavor and rich, burgundy color, no discussion about “German food” is complete without a tribute to “Schinken” with varieties that include Black Forest, Westphalian, or Speck hams. 

Sliced into paper-thin layers, diced into small cubes, or finely minced Germans prize these cold-cured hams for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and even the cocktail hour. The serving options are many and varied but are almost always quick and easy with minimal need for heat. This makes Schinken, often called Rohschinken, an especially great choice for hot-weather months. But that’s not to say a slice of rustic farmer’s bread (Bauernbrot) topped with thin ribbons of Schinken isn’t a welcome delight next to a bowl of hearty soup in the winter. 

As quick and easy as using Schinken can be, the process for perfecting the flavors and textures can be months in the making. You start with the finest stock, bred naturally without hormones or antibiotics. The meat is trimmed and hand-seasoned according to the flavors desired in the finished product. The aging process “ripens” the meat and is a vital step ahead of the laborious smoking process, which is done at cold temperatures around 45°F using selected pinewoods native to the region. Aging, curing, smoking, and drying are parts of a process that can take many weeks, but you don’t get the rich colors and flavors into these hams with shortcuts, so no shortcuts are taken. Click for more info


German Food: German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen)German Maultaschen

Maultaschen (pronounced Mowl-tah-shen) and literally translated as “mouth-pocket” is essentially a flavorful pocket of noodle dough holding a yummy filling.  Fillings can vary, but the most popular filling is a mixture of tender, seasoned pork combined with vegetables like spinach and onions. 

Some people call this specialty a “German ravioli” because its shape is almost always rectangular, but unlike a typical ravioli, a Maultaschen is most often served in a vegetable or beef broth.  Another popular serving option is to slice Maultaschen into strips and sauté them in butter until they are lightly browned.  Toppings of grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, delicate sauces, or melted cheese are optional. Marinating cooked Maultaschen in oil and vinegar and serving them cold on top of a summer salad is yet another delicious serving option.

The region of Schwabia in Germany, which includes the city of Stuttgart, is home to Maultaschen.  References can be traced back to the 15th century.  As a popular legend hints, monks from the Maulbronn Monastery used the noodle pocket to “hide” meat-fillings during Holy Days when meat was off limits to the monks.  Legend or not, we are happy to introduce them to America. Click here to purchase