Sausage Adventures: Homemade Liverwurst

I grew up on liverwurst sandwiches. I love a slice of rye or sourdough, spread with some liverwurst, some tomato, and a slice of pickle. It’s my favourite sandwich, for all that I was mocked at school for eating them let alone liking them.

I am kinda picky about the kind I like though. I hate it when it’s coarse, or in any way gritty. I don’t even add THAT much to my sandwich, preferring a thin layer. When it comes to other forms of liver, I’m not a fan. The smell, taste, and texture are not really things that appeal to me.

When the opportunity came up to get my hands on a whole pig, one of the first things I thought of was getting a chance to try my hand at making my own. NOT for the faint of heart, let me tell you.

To start with, there are MANY different schools of though around ingredients, fillers, and so on. Different techniques, spice mixes, and so on. It can get overwhelming trying to figure out what and how to try. So those of you who know me won’t be surprised to hear that my decision was to sort of try it all at once. xD Luckily this porker had a BIG LIVER (easily 2 KG).

What do I need to get at the Store?

The base recipe that I finally settled on includes the following.

  • 500 g Liver
  • 500 g Pork Fat
  • ½ Onion pureed
  • 1-2 large cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp Cure 1
  • 35g salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 slices sourdough
  • 2 slices buttermilk potato
  • 3-4 roasted chestnuts
  • 1 cup of water

Your choice of assorted spices

I then added different ingredient variations to see what worked and what didn’t.
I find the flavor to be pretty versatile, so that a lot of different interesting additions work surprisingly well. Just think of what you like on your sandwich and what you like with pork and have at it!

What’s the Deal with Rusk?

I’ve seen recipes that call for the addition of a rusk and some that don’t. What I had a harder time finding is an explanation of why it’s used.

For those like me who didn’t even know what rusk was, it’s a filler additive traditionally made from bread or bread crumbs, and sometimes mixed with milk or water.

My initial reaction was not particularly wanting to add anything to it, since I know quite a few people who can’t eat bread. Additionally, I was concerned about the influence on texture. My mom however mentioned that her mother used to add bread to it when making, and suggested that it was a good idea.

Being me, I decided to make some with and without and the general point of rusk seems to be this:

if you can’t get the whole thing emulsified, then the bread helps absorb fat as it melts and keeps the whole pretty uniform looking. Otherwise, the parts look a bit more obviously separate giving a coarse appearance, though the texture turns out still feeling smooth. That said, the bread actually can add a nice flavor element as well as I discovered with my final batches. In the end, it’s personal preference on end product, not to mention availability of equipment.

My final rusk actually included one surprising addition of my own, inspired by finding liverwurst consistently listed as a fermented sausage. Fermentation, not to mention studying about dairy lately, immediately made me think of lactobacillus, and the various roles it plays in food preservation, conservation, etc. So, I decided to add a tsp of sourdough starter. I think it added a pleasant texture and taste element.

I also used sourdough bread and a bit of buttermilk potato bread, without the skins, well blended and added a few roasted chestnuts also finely grated. I added a bit of water, just to make sure it was smooth.

Unlike other recipes I had seen, my rusk made up maybe a quarter, possibly less even, of the total product.

For some of his sausages, Cale opted to make a rusk out of oatmeal, and seems pleased with the result. If you want to use a gluten free rusk, the idea is to make something that can absorb any liquid, either oil or water/juices cooking off and keep it well mixed. I imagine that corn meal especially something like Hasa Farina, (which I’m not sure if it’s fully gluten free) would work. Chestnuts did work as well.

If you decide not to use a rusk, then your focus needs to be on emulsifying your ingredients.


For the first batch, I just cubed and ground the liver. However, the second time around I was concerned about smells from the fridge. Although when cooking liver, the last thing you want to do is soak or salt it lest it become tough, I figured that grinding would take care of that. I decided to soak it for a few minutes in ice cold water mixed with salt and the appropriate ratio of cure 1.  I liked the result and would likely do so again.

  1. Cube into small pieces
  2. Soak in salted ice water – I added the cure 1 here. Soak for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Drain and put in freezer
  4. Cube fat and additional sausage trim.


  • Sourdough Bread (Crust cut off)
  • Potato Pancake Bread (crust cut off)
  • 3-4 Chestnuts, roasted and peeled

Blend through a food processor until smooth, then add water until it makes like a smooth paste.


1:1 liver to pork/fat ratio minimum up to 40/60. For the non-liver pork portion, choose the fattiest cuts you can find, or even just use cubed fat. Liver is really lean and without the addition of a good portion of fat, it won’t work. It won’t spread nicely.

  • 500 g Liver
  • 500 g Pork Fat
  • ½ Onion pureed
  • 1-2 large cloves of Garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp Cure 1
  • 35g salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 slices sourdough
  • 2 slices buttermilk potato bread
  • 1 tsp sourdough starter (optional)
  • 1 cup of water – You won’t use the whole thing,  just dribble it into the rusk
  • 3-4 roasted chestnuts

This is the base recipe. From here I was able to customize different flavor combinations with much success.

Things I’ve tried with much success:

  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, and 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • ½ grated apple
  • 1 tbsp Smalec Domowy
  • 2 tsp parsley and 1 tsp smoked Hungarian paprika.

In the end I processed about 2 kg of liver, though I divided it out into many separate parts to try different flavours. Though the first kg also went to experimenting with rusk versus not rusk.

  1. Grind both the liver and the fat through a fine grind. Try to keep the liver cold, and follow up with the cold fat to push the liver through.
  2. Then add both to a food processor.
  3. Mix thoroughly once, then chill.
  4. Once cold, start on the low setting of a food processor, and increase the speed gradually. The goal is to try and get it fully mixed and incorporated. I did this mostly by eye, but there are explanations online and in books about keeping it below a max temperature, etc.
  5. At the final stages, once more or less incorporated, I added in the rusk, as well as all the spices till fully incorporated.
  6. To get an idea of taste, you can cook up a tsp or such of your mix on a skillet to see if you like your spice mix.
  7. Chill again before stuffing into your casing.


There are different ways of cooking the final product. There are traditional casings stuffed with the liverwurst, and cooked. I’ve had a mix of luck of keeping these from bursting, as the liverwurst expands quite a bit in unexpected ways during cooking. Expect it to expand both outwards and sideways. The split for me never happened right at the beginning when a significant portion of the liverwurst does it first expansion. Rather it split about halfway through cooking.

It’s possible poking the casing.

The usual way of cooking is submerging in water at about 180 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

There are Polish versions of this pate that actually bake it which creates a nice little crispy coating. For this you put the liverwurst into a well-greased mold then put the mold in a water bath with water going up about halfway. Then bake at 200 till you reach the right internal temp.

Since I wanted to make a more easily storable and sample sized product, I actually chose to stuff some of the liverwurst into jars, seal, and cook those jars submerged under water at the appropriate temp. The jars act as a casing, but are a bit more forgiving.

If you do use a casing and it bursts, your liverwurst is still good, just needs to be stored otherwise. A jar comes in handy here too.

In order to keep the water at a consistent 180 degrees F, I used a sous-vide immersion cooker. You can set a cooking time, which is about 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on what casings you are using and how big it is.

Once you are finished cooking, drop your casings into an ice bath until it cools down, then refrigerate.

And there you have it. Delicious, homemade, liverwurst, made from a pig we butchered ourselves!

Sausage Adventures: Homemade Liverwurst

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