is a tradition among the Donauschwaben which
lingers on even today. There is no
question that the pig was a main source of food
and a source for many other products. There was
absolutely no waist everything from the first
drops of blood to the last hair on the tail and
in between was used. The list of the
products made from the pig and its uses is a
long one, starting with the much loved "Schweinebraten"
(pork roast), bacon, ham, the famous
Donauschwaben "Bratwurst," to the making of soap
and brushes. It provided food for our people not
only during the winter months and well into the
spring and early summer, especially for our
farmers who needed all the protein to do the
cultivating and harvesting.
As we look at
the picture collection from various "Heimat"
books we find pictures showing everything from
raising the pigs of this most important animal
to the time of its slaughter. The name "Schwein"
(pig) is misused by many cultures as something
dirty. This animal does definitely not
deserve this comparison although its love was
the dirt and rolling in it. Instead we
need to look at it as the most important source
of food and products in the sustenance of our
Of all the many
pigs raised by the Donauschwaben, the "Mangalica"
and the "Berkshire" bread may have been the most
popular. The pigs were raised not only by
farmers and individual households but in several
towns they were raised for export although not
for the European market but for nearby larger
cities. Gakowa is a town that comes to mind
first, since one on the notorious death camps
was established there. The pigs were
fattened with skim milk, bran and corn and
usually had the run of the back court.
Between 4 to 6 weeks prior to the slaughter they
were almost entirely fattened by corn and kept
at rest to produce the best bacon sides and the
largest quantities of lard.
The slaughter was
almost always a ceremonial event or a festival;
the "Schlachtfest," from which we can see the
importance of pig for the Donauschwaben. It was
certainly a great event for me when my father
called for my uncle, Franz Greif, a butcher by
profession to come to our house and do the
slaughtering of the pigs we raised for that
purpose and when my uncle told me that I could
help by holding the pig’s tail, I felt extremely
important. As soon as the knife was set
and the blood flowing it was caught in a large
container the "Lavour," some vinegar and water
had to be added and one had to constantly stir
the blood so that it would not solidify and
could be used as the bases for the "Blutwurst"
In sequence the
pig was then placed in a large "Trog" (through),
hot water poured over it and the bristles
removed with a scraper which were often saved
for the brush makers, who turned them later into
brushes. After that the pig was strung up and
opened up, the organ removed which were than
cooked along with other parts of the pig such as
the neck, head and feet to make the so called "Kesselfleisch"
and these parts became part of the fillings
along with pork skin for the "Schwartenmagen" we
refer to as headcheese, for which the bladder
became the container.
Little by little
the pig was dissected; bacon sides and ham, as
well as, prime cuts of meet such as pork loin
were separated and placed in the "Lauge" brine.
The brine was prepared with Salt, garlic
peppercorns, bay leaves and elder berries for
the bacon and ham, while the pork loins were
placed into a brine prepared with salt, sugar,
bay leaves, jumper seeds, peppercorn and caraway
seed all in the right proportions to the weight
of the meat. After the curing was done the
meat headed for the smoke house which usually
was a part of the built in oven for cold
smoking, which usually was preferred over the
hot smoking, although it usually took 21 days
instead of ten.
Prime cuts such
as buts or shoulders, as well as, the smaller
cuts left were ground up in the "Wolf" the meat
grinder. Actually one aimed for mix with a ratio
of 85% lean and 15% fat. The usual secrete
"Bratwurst" mix was prepared with paprika,
pickling salt, white pepper (some used black
pepper) hot paprika and garlic to taste, which
produced the famous Donauschwaben “Bratwurst.”
Naturally it does not take a rocket scientist to
experiment with the seasoning mixture to be in
the right proportion to the meat for the best
tasting "Bratwurst." As you can understand
and well know, all Donauschwaben who make
"Bratwurst" take pride and insist they make the
best. I do have a friend however, who definitely
makes the best smoked “Bratwurst” I ever tasted
and he usually brings some of his much loved
"Bratwurst" on our ski trips for breakfast,
since we always bring one of our specialties to
has a close relation with the Hungarian paprika
sausage, which also was loved by the
Donauschwaben. The "Bratwurst" found its
way to the smoke house where it was smoked and
often stayed there stored during the winter.
The "Depreziener," the "Salami," the
“Leberwurst” and other assorted sausages where
usually made by the butchers. My uncle
Franz usually purchased several of our pigs
throughout the year for his butcher shop, which
was one of my favorite places to visit and I do
not have to tell you why! When my mother
asked me to go to his shop and fetch meat for
the family Sunday pork roast dinner, I never
But there was
still more to come, while the men worked filling
the intestines with the "Wurstspritze" (sausage
extruder), the women cooked the fat rich parts
of the skin to create lard for the entire year.
The lard then was placed in the "Stenner" a
wooden "barrel" open on the top from which the
lard was taken all year long. One of my favorite
things to do when my grandmother was baking
bread was "Flammkuchen." She allowed me to
have a piece of dough so I can make this pita
type form of bread by flattening it and then
placing it in the oven till it was crisp and
crunchy. After removing it from the oven I
spread lard on it and on top of that a little
salt and a heap of Paprika, while it was still
hot. What a delight it was for us children
to eat this “Flammkuchen” and have had the
satisfaction besides, do have made something for
ourselves to eat.
The by product
from the lard was the "Grammeln" or in the
Donauschwaben dialect the "Grive" or as we call
them; "pork rinds." The "Grive" were often used
to make "Grivebogatschl" a form of pork rind
cookies and of course it also became the bases
for soap used throughout the year for washing
clothes. Then there was the famous "Sulz" one of
my favorites prepared with several types of left
over pieces of meet from the "Kesselfleisch,"
pig feet and such. The meat was placed in a
gelatin and set out in the cold to solidify and
when it was ready to eat we poured some vinegar
over it and ate it with a big hunk of fresh
bread. For the "Schlachtfest" the butchering
festival, there was always the ever famous "Gulaschsuppe"
no "Schlachtfest" event was without. It was the
ultimate satisfying reward for everybody’s hard
work at the end of the day.
For the farmer in
the field during his long days, bacon with
paprika, sometimes hot and tomatoes were the
main meal to take to the field for his lunch.
Also eaten with canned pickled peppers and
cucumbers accompanied by a "Plutzer" (Stone Jug)
of water, he usually buried in the ground when
arriving on the field to keep it cool, was his
only source of protein during his hard working
day. The working foot wears of the farmer he
wore to work the "Patschker" was soled with the
durable leather made from pig skin.
A tradition still
alive in the USA and Canada
The tradition of
the “Bratwurst” making is still alive among the
Donauschwaben in North America and other parts
of the world, wherever they might live. Of
course there is no slaughtering of a whole pig
any longer, but they purchase choice pork buts
and during winter months make sausage for
themselves or to sell to their membership as
fund raiser, but never for profit. These events
do have acquired their own ritual today as a "Schlachtfest."
After the work is done everybody sits together
to enjoy a “Gulaschsuppe” and a freshly made
piece of pan fried "Bratwurst." In the
Cleveland area the sausage is made by the "Altheimatliche
Kegelverein" bowlers, a wonderful group of
people fostering true traditions from our "Heimat."
The other tradition left is the "Spahnferkel"
the piglet on the spick, which is often made on
organizational picnics or at one of their many
of their festivals.
Click images to enlarge
“Zuchtsau” with her piglets,
strictly raised for breeding.
pig farm in Altker, most likely
raised for the nearby city
Bershire pig one of several
by the Donauschwaben.
"Mangalica" pig one of the other
breads raised for the market as
well as own use like here in
Ernsthausen and in Gakowa.
"Wolf" meet grinder of our
brought from home.
"Wurstspritz" of our ancestors
also brought with them from home.
Josef Horvath family of Palanka
is ready for their own small "Schachtfest"
shown here is also the typical
Family in Altker proudly shows
their two pigs the slaughtered
providing them food for the
Schlachtfest of Valentin Eich in
Palanka brought out the whole
family for this wonderful
picture a testimony to the
Josef Berner in Palanka and
family prepare the meat to make
Making sausage in Apatin with a
newer type extruding machine
Katharina Blanz prepares meat to
"Plutzer" is a water jug for
to the fields.
Patschker often soled with the
from the pig.
traditions continue in the USA.
Here are the ingredients shown
for the "Bratwurst" .
meat is seasoned and ready for
Today the meat grinders are
meat mixer refines the meat and
mixes the ingredients thoroughly
prior to filling the intestines.
Today's extruding press make
sausage making simple.
sausage meat from the extruder
fills the intestines rather
quickly and the first time we
recognize the "Bratwurst."
extruded sausages are now cut to
a specific length, weighted and
either sold fresh and end up in
the frying pan or they are taken
to the smokehouse.
sausages are dried for an hour
or more prior to be taken to the smoke house.