The real difference between bratwurst and sausage

The practice of stuffing meat into some sort of edible sheath has been around for a while — a very long while in fact, because people from different cultures have been doing this for more than a thousand years as a way of preserving leftover scraps of meat and to prevent waste. The practice isn't just limited to people who live in specific climates either, because you'd have to work hard to find a country anywhere in the world that didn't make its own sausage (via The Spruce Eats).

The term "sausage" itself comes from the Latin word "salsus" (or salted), and is used to describe any type of meat which is chopped and ground, treated with a preservative (like salt), then forced into a casing. We can find hundreds of different types of sausages from around the world today, each reflecting the geographic region they are made in. 

"If you look from north to south in Europe, you're going to find a lot more dried sausages in the southern area, the south of France, Greece, Italy, because it's easier to dry the meat there," sausage expert and author Gary Allen tells Atlas Obscura. "As you go farther north, you tend to have more fresh or smoked sausages, because it's cold and damp. You're going to find a lot of salamis in Italy, you're not going to find a lot British salamis."

Bratwursts are a specific kind of sausage which originate from Germany

One of our go-to sausages is the bratwurst, which came to America by way of German immigrants who arrived in the 1800s (via The Spruce Eats). Back in the old country, Germans can count no fewer than 50 different varieties of bratwurst, all of which come in different sizes, and with different textures, meat fillings, and seasoning from different parts of the country (via German Food Guide). Basically, though, a bratwurst is simply a specific type of sausage.

Closer to home, bratwursts are usually made with pork and veal. Stronger flavors like ginger, nutmeg, coriander, and caraway are evident, and in some cases, cream and eggs are added to the mix (via The Kitchn). And while bratwursts can be enjoyed any way you fancy, folks from Wisconsin who love bratwurst may swear by the method of simmering the sausages in beer before you throw them on the barbecue for a final sear (via Kingsford).