German sausages are divided into three main types: Bruhwurst, which is a fresh, scalded sausage; Kochwurst, a type that has already been cooked; and Rohwurst, sausages that have been cured but are still raw. Bratwurst, the hot dog type sausage, is considered a category of its own. Each type of German sausage has a number of subtypes, making every sausage a bit different from the others. German sausages benefit most by cooking over moderate heat and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Bruhwurst sausages have been scalded to cause the meat in the casing to solidify. The meat is still considered raw and must be fully cooked. The best way to cook Bruhwurst sausages is the traditional method of simmering in water, in soups or in stews. This insures that the meat is fully cooked. Bruhwursts can also be boiled and finished in a frying pan, oven or on the grill for browning and extra flavour.
Kochwurst sausages are fully cooked and can be eater cold or hot. Many Kochwurst varieties are intended to be eaten cold as sandwich or cracker spreads or served as a side dish for other meals. Other Kochwursts are intended to be sliced for serving. The best ways to heat Kochwurst are by quick pan frying or grilling for a minute or two on each side over hot coals. Some Kochwursts, such as headcheese, begin to liquefy if heated for too long.
Rohwursts require no cooking even though they are made with raw meat. Familiar types of Rohwurst are salami, which is sliced, and mettwurst, which is a spread. Both types of Ruhwurts are aged; the hard Ruhwursts are aged much longer than the spreadable varieties. Hard Ruhwurts can be pan-fried or heated on the grill, but like the softer varieties are generally eaten cold.
Bratwurst can be purchased either raw or fully cooked. When purchasing Bratwurst, the label should be read in order to determine how to cook the sausage. Fully cooked brats can be grilled or pan-fried until browned at which point they are then ready to eat. Raw bratwurst should be cooked in simmering water for 10 minutes before browning on the grill or in a pan. Bratwurst is most often served on a bun similarly to the American hot dog.