Ah boerewors, how we love you. Sizzling in a pan or smoking over the flames, the meaty, juicy sausage is a staple in most of our kitchens. Usually beef, boerewors is known by its iconic spiral shape and the distinctive taste of coriander seeds, nutmeg and cloves.
Boerewors is so well loved that South African legislators have written a law to protect it. Any products sold under the name “boerewors” must comply with the regulations as laid out in the Government Notice No. R.2718 of 23 November 1990, in terms of section 15(1) of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act No. 54 of 1972). This piece of legislation is quite long and jam-packed full of details, so we grabbed the interesting bits: you can read the full law.
The fine print
– The product can only be manufactured from beef, sheep, pork or goat species.
– Boerewors must contain a minimum of 90 percent total meat content.
– Boerewors may not contain more than 30 percent fat.
– Lean meat must be greater than 63 percent.
– Boerewors may not contain any offal, except for the edible casing.
– The product shall contain no mechanically recovered meat (such as that used in polony).
RECIPE: Boerewors rolls with a twist
The big 5
The only permitted ingredients are:
– Meat (at least 90 percent )
– Cereal products (wheat flour or soya)
– Vinegar, spices, herbs and salt such as coriander seed, nutmeg and pepper.
– Permitted food additives, typically preservatives such as nitrates.
Even though starches and water may be added, they may not constitute more than 10 percent of the overall content of the raw boerewors, which means that true boerewors is a very high quality food product. No wonder it tastes so good!
RECIPE: Boerewors phyllo wheel
Other kinds of sausage
You can often find other kinds of raw meat products in your supermarket or butchery, but if the label does not state “boerewors”, then the product does not meet the high standards of a true South African boerewors. Other products available are:
Braaiwors – at least 60 percent meat protein. This is a cheaper alternative to boerewors that contains more starches and fillers.
Fresh Sausage – at least 52.5 percent meat. Sausages may contain poultry, or a combination of meats as stated on the label.
Grillers or bangers – variable meat content, as per label, up to 70 percent meat content
Boerewors is spiced differently by each maker of course, but the foundation is protected in law to ensure that your boerie roll is always tasty, healthy and delicious!