Skilandis is a popular Lithuanian sausage. The same product exists in Poland, where it is known under the name of kindziuk. This product is highly diffused in the border area between Poland and Lithuania.
The basis for the sausage is smoked pork or beef.
This sausage is traditional and has always been known as a delicacy; it is typically offered to guests to welcome them. It is mentioned in sources dating back to the 16th century.
Skilandis is encased in a pork bladder or in beef gut (cecum). In the past, it used to be stuffed into a pork stomach. Its flavor is spicy, salty, smoked and slightly sour.
The sausage is pear shaped and has a rough external surface. It has a diameter of at least 80 cm, and weighs between 400g and 2 kg.
It was internationally recognized by the European Union and added to the list of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO). This product can thus use the international European logo of “Traditional Specialties Guaranteed”. This brand describes products which should be distinguished and preserved, whose name stands for specific qualities and a well-defined production process.
The recipes and preparation methods vary according to the areas of production. The base is lean beef and/or pork, mixed with pieces of bacon. The meat is usually cut into cubes, ground and mixed with a variety of spices: salt, a bit of sugar, pepper, garlic, cumin (predominantly used in the area of Silares, in central Poland), bay leaf (especially in the district of Kupiskis, in northeastern Lithuania), or a traditional local spice called kolytos (pennycress seeds). This mixture is then left to rest at a maximum temperature of 4 degrees Celsius for 6 hours. After, the meat is stuffed into the pig bladder and closed with a thick chord made from natural fiber. Then, the same chord is passed down the lateral side every 4-5 cm, forming “wedges”. After smoking for at least 15 days, the sausage is dried for 2-3 months. For this, it is hung up in special wooden chambers. The wood used for smoking varies according to the production place; juniper in Aukštaitija (northeastern Lithuania), alder in areas inhabited by people of Sudovian origin and culture (between Poland and Lithuania) or oak.
The color of the sausage can vary between crimson red and dark red.
It can be eaten raw or cooked (boiled). When eaten raw, it is cut into thin slices and served with sauces, mustard for example. It can also be used to stuff sandwiches or on its own as an appetizer. Usually homemade skilandis/kindziuk only contains pork, while the industrial version is often made with a mixture of pork and beef.
Traditional artisan production of skilandis/kindziuk needs to be preserved, promoted and controlled against industrial production, in order to preserve its original characteristics.