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Sauerkraut: A family food tradition

If you forgot to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, here are some recipes to chow down on some good luck.

A tasty tradition: Eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day is considered good luck.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

It’s a good luck thing — eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Whether it’s tradition or superstition, you’ve just got to have some pork and kraut to ensure good luck, good health and prosperity in the new year. This year’s pork and sauerkraut were especially tasty since they were cooked by Chef Lisa, not Chef Donna. All I needed to enjoy this feast was a good appetite — no problem there!

Though it’s our family food tradition, I never really questioned the significance of eating pork and sauerkraut. It was what we always ate on New Year’s Day. Looking into this tradition, I’ve read that the number of shreds of cabbage in the bowl of sauerkraut are equal to the number of wishes for happiness and prosperity in the coming year. I’ve read that a pig cannot turn his head from side to side or look backward, so eating some pork reminds us to look forward to something good happening in the new year. Marzipan pigs, traditional German and Scandinavian candies made of almond milk and sugar or honey, and shaped like little pigs, are given at New Year’s for good luck.

This year, an ice cream company in Harrisburg even made a limited-edition flavor to honor the New Year’s pork and sauerkraut custom. Offered by the scoop on Dec. 30 and 31, the flavor’s official name was “New Year’s Sauerkraut.” (Wonder if it sold out?) Now that’s a sweet way to eat your good luck food! Some cultures eat beans and lentils reminiscent of small coins, in order to promote good fortune in the new year. Southern tradition includes eating black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread and pot-likker soup for good luck in the coming year.

What got me to thinking about my traditional New Year’s Day food was a letter I received from a Times reader requesting a sauerkraut recipe. Clare K. wrote, “…you had a recipe for sauerkraut that I thought I cut out to save and make. I looked all over my recipes and cannot find it so I ask your help….” Hope this recipe is helpful.


2 lb. package refrigerated sauerkraut (e.g., D&W, Kissling, store brand), drained

1 small onion, chopped, about ½ cup

1 medium apple, peeled and small diced

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. whole cloves

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup water

In a large pot, put sauerkraut, onion, apple, brown sugar, cloves and pepper. Mix.

Add wine and water and mix.

Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20–30 minutes.

Discard cloves before serving.

This is the pork recipe that I enjoyed on New Year’s Day.


4 lbs. boneless pork loin roast

¼ cup olive oil

4 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. Gulden’s mustard

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Fresh rosemary

7 strips bacon, divided

1 cup beer or wine (red or white, dry)

1 medium onion, chopped

4 Tbsp. butter

Slice the pork loin in half lengthwise (like a hot dog bun), and rub inside and out, all over with olive oil.

Place one-half of the pork in the bottom of the crock pot.

Distribute the minced garlic, salt, pepper, mustard, brown sugar, rosemary and 2 strips of bacon onto the bottom piece of pork, then cover with the remaining half of pork loin.

Wrap the remaining 5 pieces of bacon around the pork.

Pour the beer/wine over the pork.

In a small pan, saute the onion in the butter for a few minutes until the onion is soft, then pour into the crock pot.

Cook on High for 5 to 6 hours or until done or on Low for 7 to 9 hours or until done. Remove bacon and discard.

Using forks, pull pork apart into shreds, stir and serve.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

Don’t forget:

Send in your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 ShopRite gift card. Mail your recipe to Readers’ Recipes, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002. Or email your recipe to WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com. Please include name, address and telephone number.

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