View All Charcuterie
Isterband at a Glance
Smaland, southern Sweden
Type of Charcuterie
Dry Cured Sausage, Smoked Sausage, Smoked
Pork, fat, potatoes, barley, salt, pepper
Smalandska isterband, syrliga isterband, lattisterband, hangekorv lard sausage, lard ribbon, hanging sausage, smoked pork sausage
Much of the food made in Sweden is a result of the geographic location of the country. The long cold months made it necessary to store food, bringing about a practice of preservation. Vikings and other early settlers also practiced food preservation as a way to keep food from spoiling while at sea.
The Isterband is a good example of traditional Swedish preserved food. Originating from the south, this sausage not only reflects the early culture of the people, but their frugal ways as well with the use of extenders.
This roughly chopped sausage is made with from equal amounts of pork and fat, thus its name. The term "ister" literally translates to fat or lard. To make more sausages without using more meat, cooked potatoes and barley are added. Some versions of the recipe may call for rice or oatmeal. Salt, pepper and other spices are then added into this mixture and it is put into sausage casings.
These links are then hung over the stove, in an attic or in the fireplace and left to dry. It is during this time that naturally occurring lactic acids ferment the sausage. This is followed by cold smoking for several days.
The process of making isterband gives the sausage its distinct sour, slightly peppery and mild smoky taste. Even without using much seasoning and spices, the end sausage still packs a punch in terms of flavor. Its texture is somewhat dry and coarse due to the ingredients used. However, when eaten the barley adds chewiness that is similar to meat.
Traditionally, isterband is served with pickled beetroot and dill stewed potatoes at a smorgasbord during festive events such as Christmas. It can be baked in an oven or pan fried. These are usually sliced lengthwise or crosswise when cooked since cooking it whole may result in the sausage cracking open.
Of course, it can also be eaten at any time and served with many other things including eggs, onions, various vegetables and all types of creamed dishes. The contents of the sausage can also be scooped out and eaten or added to various dishes.
Photo Credit: sebilden