Erbswurst as a survival food

I am always interested in various types of food products that our ancestors, made and used for survival rations. Recently I ran across Erbswurst which was developed in 1867 in Prussia and was soon adopted by the Prussian, later the German army as an iron ration. Erbswurst is a sausage made from fat, dried bacon and pea flour that could be quickly rehydrated in a mess tin into a soup.

Erbswurst loosely translates into pea sausage. This name is a good description. It is a foil or wax paper-lined sausage-shaped roll that contains six tablets of compressed split pea soup. The soup is made up of pea flour, bacon, spices, and salt. Each of these tablets was intended to be mixed with ¼ liter (approx. 8 oz) of water and cooked for a short time to produce a nourishing soup. Along with the soup, they were issued a round biscuit that was similar to hardtack.

A roll or erbswurst, each section is one serving

Erbswurst was used up until world war one by the German Army and is still produced in Germany by the Knorr Company.

I found a recipe for Erbswurst and will try it in a few days.  It appears to be quite simple to make.  According to all the information I can discover, it keeps quite well.

Here is the recipe for Erbswurst

Fresh pork belly or smoked bacon350 g0.77 lb
Hard fat250 g0.55 lb
Pea flour400 g0.88 lb

Ingredients per 1000g (1 kg) of meat

Salt18 g3 tsp
Pepper2.0 g1 tsp
Marjoram1.0 g1/2 tsp
Nutmeg0.3 g1/4 tsp
Thyme0.3 g1/4 tsp
Onion30 g1/2 onion


  • Dice the fresh pork belly or smoked bacon into 1/4″ (5 mm) cubes.
  • Dice the hard fat (or fat trimmings) into 1/4″ (5 mm) cubes.
  • Chop the onion finely.
  • Fry both belly and fat cubes until golden, stirring often.
  • Fry the onions in some fat until gold. Don’t let it get brown or it will taste bitter.
  • Heat up a pot on a low fire and start adding pea flour stirring continuously. Add all spices, keep on stirring.
  • Add all meats, fat included, stir together and keep the mass warm otherwise it will harden.
  • Stuff firmly into 40 mm sausage casings making 8″ (20 cm) straight links.
  • There is no need for any additional cooking. It will dry hard.
See also  Wartime Recipes can Help You to Survive TEOTWAWKI

If any of you are familiar with Erbswurst, let us know about your experiences.  If you want to buy some manufactured by the Knorr Company, it is available on the internet.

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7 thoughts on “Erbswurst as a survival food”

  1. Horace Kephart has some things to say of Erbswurst in his book “Camping and Woodcraft,” the chapter entitled “Concentrated Foods:”

    It never spoils, never gets any “punkier” than it was at the beginning. The stick of erbswurst that you left undetected last year in the seventh pocket of your hunting coat will be just as good when you discover it again this year. Mice won’t gnaw it; bugs can’t get at it; moisture can’t get into it. I have used rolls that had lain so long in damp places that they were all moldy outside, yet the food within was neither worse nor better than before.

    A pound of erbswurst, costing from thirty-two to forty cents, is about all a man can eat in three meals straight. Cheap enough, and compact enough, God wot! However, this little boon has a string attached. Erbswurst tastes pretty good to a hungry man in the woods as a hot noonday snack, now and then. It is not appetizing as a sole mainstay for supper on the same day. Next morning, supposing you have missed connections with camp, and have nothing but the rest of that erbswurst, you will down it amid storms and tempests of your own raising. And thenceforth, no matter what fleshpots you may fall upon, you will taste “dynamite soup” for a week.

    In its native land, this iron ration lost its popularity and was thrown out of the German army. Over here, we benighted wights keep on using it, or its American similitude, in emergencies, simply because we know of no better substitute, or because it is the easiest thing of the kind to be found on the market. We all wish to discover a ready-made ration as light and compact as erbswurst, as incorruptible and cheap, but one that would be fairly savory at the second and third eating, and polite to our insides (which “dynamite soup” is not).

  2. I found this article interesting as well:

    ….Erbswurst might not have been a culinary delight …

    To the English palate the pea-sausage had an unmistakable taste of tallow, and there is no doubt that all kinds of fat and grease were employed in its production when the supplies of bacon run short

    … but it was a scientific innovation, because of its casing. Faced with a shortage of animal skins and bladders to hold the “sausage”, a chemist innovated a new casing made of gelatine and bichromate of potash (potassium dichromate) – the same chemical process used by photographers to make carbon-prints. The sausage mix was rolled into shape, dipped in the treated gelatine, and then left to dry in the sun. The resulting sausage was robust enough to survive being “boiled with impunity”.

  3. Kind of a thin gruel for survival. Throw in a cup of cooked rice and a handful of chopped veggies and you would really have something.

  4. The Erbswurst from Knorr is very much an improvement over the product of a century ago, written about by Kephart…, based on Kephart’s description of it then and what I’ve experienced myself. It isn’t a “meal” alone, but is very light and a good addition to a small, light, survival tote. Something to carry when out for a day in the woods or if one is trekking away from a base camp and might get stuck overnight…, so long as you have adequate water nearby. I carry a packet “just in case” along with some other items as my trekking ration. As the previous comment mentions, with a bit more added to it, it will provide a good ration for one stuck overnight. As it is from peas, it does have a good bit of fiber…

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