Kole

Cured meats and meat products - Albania

Kole is the name for an intestine filled with fresh meat that is prepared in the Përmet region of Albania. It is prepared with calf or pig meat, usually during winter (especially December), when the temperatures are low or below freezing. After the animal is slaughtered, its large intestine is removed and set aside and cleaned. The meat from the animal is minced, and then put into a container with salt. Usually, 200-250 g of salt is used for a 10-15 liter container. Black pepper and oregano are also added. Leeks are sliced into half a centimeter or centimeter long pieces and also added. The mixture is covered with a breathable cloth.   After a week, the meat is removed from the container and placed inside of the cleaned intestine. The length should be 50-60 cm in order to hold the meat. The process of filling the intestine with minced meat is very delicate because the intestine must be filled in a homogeneous way and not broken. Next, the intestine is hung about a meter above or wood-burning oven and left for 10-15 days. The fire should be continuous and the room ventilated. After this period, the intestine is lowered carefully. It will be thinner once dry. The kole is then placed in a cloth sack and left in a dark room and consumed as desired.   The most common way to prepare it is by baking it on embers. It is often served with pickled cabbage or tomatoes and a glass of wine or brandy. It can also be served for breakfast, sliced and cooked in a frying pan with eggs and spices. Kole has been produced in Përmet since ancient times and is a tradition passed down through generations. It was created as a way to preserve fresh meat, which could not be consumed in its entirety before spoiling in times before refrigeration.   Local families prepare about 10-15 kg of kole annually for personal use. Today, the product is at risk of extinction due to trends of rural-to-urban migration, which compromises the transmission of traditional knowledge from generation to generation. Furthermore, new hygiene rules adopted with European Union membership make it impossible for local butchers to prepare the cured meat according to the original tradition, especially with the use of locally raised and slaughtered animals. This prevents artisan producers from emerging, while the general trend of sausage making in the home is diminishing.