The Morteau is not just a sausage. It symbolizes the gastronomic tradition of the Jura mountains. The sausage is made by specialists and the ingredients can only be supplied by specialized companies. As a globally operating meat processing company, it is therefore not easy to get into this business. But Van Hessen managed to do so! It is a clear example of Van Hessen’s intention to always supply the local markets in accordance with the local traditions.
What makes the Morteau special is that it is prepared in a natural casing that is closed on one end with a wooden nail. The filling is the result of a masterful balance between meat and pork fat. The animals used for this sausage are specially selected and are fed with whey derived from the curd of the Comté cheese.
Even the wooden nail (“cheville” in French) needs to meet special requirements, The wooden pen (about 3.5 mm in diameter and about 40 mm long) is made of beech wood. This is how the tradition prescribes it. When the Saucisse de Morteau is filled, it is smoked over branches of pinewood in a Tuyé, a traditional hearth.
Only a few large companies that prepare the Morteau are allowed to carry the official “Label Rouge.” That limits the market for fat ends with their typical wooden nail somewhat but doesn’t stop Van Hessen to face the challenge to reach more customers. A portion of the fat ends Van Hessen selects will be used for many other kinds of dry sausages in France, the so-called Saucissons Sec.