What To Look For When Buying Kielbasa

Anyone who's even cursorily familiar with the concept of sausages has at least heard of the term "kielbasa." This is all fine and well, until you actually end up in the inevitable discussion in which someone asks you to define the term. It's ... big? And Polish? Surely, there must be something more to it. Per the Spruce Eats, there indeed is. In fact, the very term "kielbasa" is simply Polish for "sausage," so rest assured there are a fair few versions to choose from. 

Apart from the varying sizes and base ingredients, the site rattles off well over a dozen general types of kielbasa that are specific to a certain region in Poland, ranging from the juniper-spiced pork "Kiełbaski myśliwska" to the "Serdelki," which is basically a massive hot dog. According to The Takeoutthe version that U.S. consumers are likely most familiar with is the "Polska kielbasa wedzona" variety, which is essentially a smoked pork sausage with garlic, pepper and marjoram. Does all this seem intimidating? There's no reason to be overwhelmed! Here, let's see what exactly you need to look for when buying kielbasa.

More meat and less additives is the key to good kielbasa

As Thrillist notes, there are plenty of kielbasas out there to sate your hunger, and in general, the dry, dark, smoky ones are good for snacking Slim Jim-style, while the lighter, plumper variations are good for cooking. Still, even if you only have access to one type, the overwhelming chances are that it's plenty versatile, and with the right recipe, you can use it for virtually any meal. That being said, there are a few things you should look out for. 

A great kielbasa has a nice, understated yet smoky flavor, and its texture is complemented by that oh-so-subtly crunchy skin every kielbasa fan knows and loves. You can also easily check any particular kielbasa's quality from the ingredients list and its meat content. The less additives and more meat there is, the better the sausage should be. Since the sausage dries out during the manufacturing process, a good rule of thumb is that if more than 100 grams of meat was used to make 100 grams of your kielbasa, you can be pretty sure that you're munching on quality.