Boerewors – from the history books to your braai

Every seventeenth-century cook at the Cape had a favourite recipe for boerewors (farmer’s sausage). During the twentieth century, many cooks began following recipes that predominantly used coriander and cloves seasoning. A possible reason for this preference might have been the Afrikaans cookbooks by Dijkman and D.J.H., which contain recipes with these spices as ingredients. It is a popular myth that boerewors was always made from a mixture of pork and other meats. Before the twentieth century when there were no fridges, boerewors prepared in summer consisted mainly of mutton and sheep’s tail fat and in winter it was made from pork and bacon.

It boggles the mind that people made sausage at all without the luxury of mincing machines. The sausage meat had to be cut into very small pieces and mixed with the spices the night before. The following morning, when it was still cold, the fat or bacon was cut into cubes while the meat was finely minced with a large pestle. Then the meat and fat or bacon were mixed with vinegar and left for a while in order to absorb the spices before cleaned intestines were filled with meat.

It was a huge job to scrap the intestines clean. If the one doing the scraping was clumsy, the intestines ended up with lots of holes, making them useless as sausage casings. Filling the intestines also had to be done by hand. The cheapest piece of filling equipment over which the intestines could be pulled and filled with meat stuffing was the horn of an animal. The sharp end of the horn was cut off and the horn hollowed out, rubbed and polished until smooth before it was used as a filling mechanism. After the intestines were filled, the boerewors had to be placed in brine to preserve it.


1.5 kg beef, minced

1.5 kg pork, minced

500 g pork fat, coarsely or cut into small cubes

10 tsp (50ml) whole coriander seeds

1 Tbsp (15 ml) salt

1 tsp (5 ml) freshly ground black

½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground gloves

½ tsp (2.5 ml) grated nutmeg

3 Tbsp (45 ml) ground allspice

½ cup (125 ml) good quality vinegar

± 9 intestines or sausage casings


Combine the minced meat and pork fat. Work gently, otherwise the mixture will become stringy.

Roast the Coriander in a hot, dry pan and then grind it finely. Sift to get rid of the husks and let it cool.

Combine all the spices and mix well with the meat mixture. Add the vinegar.

Leave the mixture for about 1 hour before filling the casings with the meat. The boerewors can either be eaten straight after making or stored in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

To cook the boerewors, grill over coals, or fry in a pan until done to taste.

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