Menu Mondays | Something from Nothing: Thrifty Foods from the 1930s
Familiar with scrapple? Just how well do you know it? Before becoming popular as the Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy called by a more gentile moniker, boiled hogs heads were a Depression-era food and a valued cooking tradition among penny pinchers for decades.  At the turn of the century, German immigrants created versions of gritwurst by gathering scraps and scants of the hog not typically used, then grinding and reducing them with meal, barley, or oats. The resulting concoction left the diner satisfied, while stretching otherwise unmarketable meat into a substantial meal.  Below are two recipes to try, one easily made at home and other to make the old fashioned way!  Give it a try -- after all, what's the wurst it could be?

Modern Gritwurst

• 2 quarts of lean cooked pork
• 2 medium onions
• 2 quarts cooked oatmeal
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 teaspoon allspice

1. Cook and grind pork with onions.
2. Make an equal portion of oatmeal using the broth in which the pork was cooked.
3. Add allspice, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Brown in cake pans in a 350° oven until bubbly all over.
5. Cut into squares, and refrigerate or freeze.
6. When ready to use, fry a square until brown and crisp.

courtesy of Katy at

Depression Era Gritwurst
Boil one hog's head in water to cover until meat separates from the bones.  (A canner makes an ideal cooking vessel.)  Place head on a large platter to cool.  Remove fatty parts, and use lean meat only.  Grind meat, and add copious amounts of allspice, salt, and pepper to taste.  Add an equal part of oatmeal and mix.  Pack in bread tins, and freeze or store in the refrigerator.  Slice and fry for lunches or a nourishing breakfast.

A Bohemian version calls for barley to be cooked and used in place of the oatmeal.  Dry bread could also be added.  Still other versions use a cornmeal mush base.  Salt, pepper, and garlic also could be used to flavor the dish.

courtesy of Kitchen Witch at



terry greve
03/25/2013 12:02pm

had gritzwurst when I was a kid along time ago my aunt also made something using liver and rice which we had for breakfast have you ever heard of it I would like to make some but don't know how

03/25/2013 12:41pm

We found this liver and rice loaf recipe from 1954; hope it's what you remember!,136497

Rudy Haak
11/30/2013 6:49pm

My father owned a grocery store for over 40 years and I worked for him in the early sixties. I still remember tying casings and mixing sausage until I was blue in the face. I also remember having to shave pig heads and cut out the eyes before we would cook them to make different types of sausage. One of our biggest sellers was Gritzwurst. Ours was made using only pork and no beef. We only used Buckwheat Groats for the sausage too. A couple of other sausages that we made were Mettwurst and Liver Sausage. I am over 65 and I can still remember those days as though they were yesterday. As a side note I just built a new smokehouse out of 14 gauge steel and it measures 4 foot by 4 foot by 5 foot high. I just pumped and cured a pork shoulder and a boneless loin to test it out as soon as meat is done curing. It ought to work great.


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