What's wors?

Wors under the grill

Wors under the grill

Ever noticed how your sausage looks so full and glossy in the shop, but by the time you’re done cooking it’s all dry and shrivelled?

With nothing better to do at home I’ve been weighing my sausage boerewors before and after cooking it and recording the results.  It’s by no means scientific, but it does give you an idea of how much meat, fat and water is in your sausage.

As far as I can tell pretty much all the boerewors in supermarkets comes from Freddy Hirsch.  A nice homely name that conjures up images of abattoir floor sweepings Ma and Pa in their high street butchery. But we all know the reputation of sausages when it comes to their “meat” content, and we don’t care.

Over the years (yes, years: I started in 2013, but had a year off when I wasn’t cooking for myself) I have bought from various branches of Spar, Pick n Pay and a local delicatessen type place in Maun, Delta Deli (much recommended for other cooking things like huge slabs of cooking chocolate, unusual baking bits and pieces and lovely cake).

My method is basic:

  1. Note the weight on the label
  2. Weigh the empty pan/tray
  3. Put the wors in the pan and weigh the combination
  4. Cook until charred (usually under an electric grill, with attendant backdrafts and smoke)
  5. Weigh the cooked combination
  6. Remove the wors and weigh the tray
  7. Eat wors and whatever delight it is being served alongside
  8. Do the maths:
    1. Subtracting 2 from 3 gives you the actual weight before cooking.
    2. Subtracting 3 from 5 tells you how much water has evaporated (assumes negligible quantities of fat have flared off).
    3. Subtracting 6 from 5 tells you how much your cooked wors weighs.
    4. Subtracting 2 from 6 tells you how much gunge has left your sausage during the whole sorry episode.

I’ve recorded moisture loss in excess of 50% with an average of 40%, and fat content up to 17% with an average of 8%. Have a look at the table below and draw your own conclusions about value for money.

Date Type Shop Label Raw Wt. 2. Raw Pan Wt. 3. Raw Total Wt. 4. Cooked Total Wt. 5. Cooked Pan Wt 8.1 Actual Raw Wt. Variance from label % 8.3 Cooked Wt. Fat Lost Wt. 8.4 Fat Lost % 8.2 Moisture Lost Moisture %
01-Jun n/a Spar 508 898 1387 1133 909 489 96% 224 11 2% 254 52%
15-Jun Vrystater Spar 530 898 1413 1272 967 515 97% 305 69 13% 141 27%
01-Dec Traditional Delta Deli 780 925 1678 1350 943 753 97% 407 18 2% 328 44%
15-Dec Vrystater Delta Deli 536 898 1418 1193 928 520 97% 265 30 6% 225 43%
10-Feb Bloubul Delta Deli 460 900 1350 1114 912 450 98% 202 12 3% 236 52%
13-May Kameelhout Delta Deli 628 896 1534 1349 950 638 102% 399 54 9% 185 29%
15-Jul Flavour Lab Mild Moz Peri Peri Spar 600 1296 1895 1666 1399 599 100% 267 103 17% 229 38%
30-Jul Grabouw Spar 556 1299 1832 1678 1387 533 96% 291 88 16% 154 29%
07-Aug Venison Pick n Pay 1300 1955 1742 1359 655 383 59 9% 213 33%

Next one on the list is to repeat the exercise on chicken breast: less fat but pretty sure they are maximising the added water, it’ll be a bit trickier because I like to throw in spices, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and other stuff which will effect the cooked weight.

Sorry about the table formatting… will have to fettle this later.

Edit to add, we’re only a step away from a wors containing enough fat to be able to cook itself: