Isterband sausage

Isterband korv

Swedish Isterband sausage with pickled beetroot and potatoes in chive sauce

Isterband korv is a lightly smoked pork sausage with a slightly sour flavour from the Småland region of southern Sweden. It is considered to be a classic of Swedish husmanskost (traditional home cooking).

Why is it called  isterband?

Ister means lard and band comes from att binda (to bind), so isterband means bound lard. Don't let that put you off as all sausages contain lard or pork fat, which melts during the cooking process, distributing the heat evenly and adding to the flavour. In contrast, low fat sausages have less flavour and are harder to cook because the contents are very insulating leading to the outside browning before the inside is cooked.

Thirfty Smålanders

Invar Kamprad during an interview on Swedish television in 2016Ingvar Kamprad just before his 90th birthday

Of course, lard was added to sausages for another reason: it is cheap! As a famous Smålander, Ingvar Kamprad, put it in an interview in 2016 for TV4, "it is in the nature of Småland to be thrifty".

Mr Kamprad was the founder of IKEA and, despite his vast wealth, was renowned for his devotion to frugality, reportedly driving an old Volvo and travelling by economy class. "If you look at me now, I don't think I'm wearing anything that wasn't bought at a flea market," he said.

"We have Småland in the blood, and we know what a krona is - even though it is not as much as it was when we bought candy and went to elementary school," he said, referring to the Swedish currency.

Ingredients

Isterband sausages are made from coarsely ground pork, water, pearl barley (barley groats), pork fat and spices. The spices vary, but usually contain salt, white pepper and allspice or ginger. Sometimes potato and onion are also added to the ingredients.

Hängekorv

Isterband korv are part of a group of Swedish sausages known as hängekorv (hanging sausages). This means that the sausages are hung to dry in a draughty place, just below room temperature, for 3 or 4 days. It is this process which allows lactic acid bacteria to thrive and give the sausage its slightly sour flavour. Normally the sausages are then lightly smoked, but they can be eaten without smoking.

Buying

Isterband sausages by Lithells

Several brands of isterband are available from specialist shops or online within Europe, but as far as I know not elsewhere.

Cooking

Uncooked isterband sausages on a roasting rack 

Roast isterband korv at 200°C (400°F, gas 6) for about 25 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure that they are evenly browned. (Line the tray with foil, to make it easier to dispose of the melted fat that is released.) The sausages can be fried if you prefer.

Accompaniments

Isterband sausages are normally served with gräslökstuvad potatis (potatoes in chive sauce), inlagda rödbetor (pickled beetroot) and senap (mustard), but other side dishes are also possible.

Posh husmanskost

Isterband sausage as served in Operabaren in Stockholm

Operabaren (The Opera Bar) in Stockholm is one of the best places to enjoy husmanskost (traditional Swedish cuisine) in Sweden. There they serve isterband korv with potatoes in chive sauce, caperberries, apple and beetroot. Swedelicious!

More about Småland

To read an article about Småland by VisitSweden click here.

John Duxbury 

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