Learn a little about the history of why people eat pork and sauerkraut on new year's, for good luck, including a detailed recipe to make this hearty and delicious one-pot meal. Our family has been enjoying this tradition forever but truth be told we like it so much that we eat it many times throughout the year as well.
Are you making pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day? Of course, we are. Born and raised in southwestern Pennsylvania, and married to a Pennsylvania Dutch Country boy, the tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day is commonplace in our household.
In addition, my husband and I both have some German ancestry so this practice has been ingrained into us from early childhood.
Why Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year's for Good Luck?
Well, I'm told that back in the day having a pig meant a family was good to go for the winter. And since cabbage is a fall crop it was often canned or pickled to use in the winter. The process takes about 6-8 weeks to making it ready just about the time the new year is upon us.
I tried making my own homemade sauerkraut from scratch. It was really fun, but since I am so impatient I normally just use store-bought kraut.
Other folklore speaks to the way pigs forage for food. The pig roots in a forward motion, never looking back. Whereas other animals such as chickens and turkeys scratch backward. Also, cabbage was slang for money at one time.
By this time in the 21st century, it is simply something we just do. After all, it tastes delicious and well, and the promise of good luck is always appealing.
Variations and/or Additions for Pork & Sauerkraut
- Add one peeled and diced apple for extra sweetness
- Add some maple syrup.
- Try hot dogs instead of kielbasa. Great for little kids.
- Use or add spare ribs to the mix.
- Use a pork loin or pork chops instead of a pork shoulder or butt. Just know that a pork loin roast is much leaner than shoulder or butt and will not break down and shred as well.
Ways to Cook Pork and Sauerkraut
- I like to make this on the stove in a large heavy bottom pot or dutch oven.
- You can also make it in the slow cooker. Brown the roast on the stove first if you want, and then combine everything together in the slow cooker and cook it slowly on low heat all day.
- You can also make pork and sauerkraut in the Instant Pot for an even faster option.
Just don't forget to serve plenty of mashed potatoes on the side. Or, if you like serve the sauerkraut on top of the mashed potatoes. That's what we do and it's oh so tasty.
Wishing you a happy and healthy new year with lots of good luck.
Pork and Sauerkraut Recipe
- 2 lbs sauerkraut
- 2 lbs pork shoulder or butt
- 1 lb kielbasa
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1 t caraway seeds
- Brown the roast in some olive oil in a large pot.
- Add the sauerkraut brine and all.
- Add the kielbasa
- Sprinkle brown sugar and caraway seeds.
- Add some water to just cover the entire roast.
- Bring to a boil.
- Turn on low, cover, and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the pork is easily pulled apart with a fork.
- Serve with mashed potatoes.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts have been made to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.