January 1st, officially starts our new year, but why do so many Americans across the country enjoy the deliciously pungent aroma of sauerkraut on New Year’s Day?
Where the Tradition Started
Germans have been eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s for generations because they believe it brings good luck (viel glück in German). The strands of cabbage in sauerkraut symbolize a long life, and it is said they wished each other as many riches as there are shreds of cabbage in the sauerkraut they eat.
As these kraut lovers immigrated to the Midwest, they brought their traditions with them, that is why in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which received many German immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries, people are almost religious about this delicious tradition. Some of our very own associates from this part of the country can attest!
The Benefits of Sauerkraut
Not only is sauerkraut good for your gut it is good for your taste buds. Its tangy-tart flavor is the perfect companion to grilled burgers, salads and more. Eating just a spoonful or two before a meal increases saliva production, decreases stomach pH and activates certain digestive enzymes so you digest your food better. Read more about the benefits of fermented foods here.
How to Make Sauerkraut
It’s actually quite simple to make. We like this recipe from the Wellness Mama, but you can find many variations online.
It requires limited ingredients of cabbage, salt, and caraway seeds. The equipment needed is just as simple, you can use a mason jar or fermentation crock. The recipe we shared follows three easy steps.
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients. Clean and slice the cabbage, add the salt and caraway seeds.
Step 2: Move it to the fermenting vessel, weigh and cover. Add the fermentation weights and fermentation seal, or use the fermentation crock as directed.
Step 3: Ferment. This step is probably the most difficult as it requires patience. Fermentation will begin within a day and take 2-5 weeks depending on the temperature and desired tartness. After 1.5 weeks, check for desired tartness.
You can add pork or kielbasa to make this a complete dish. If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier or stay healthy, the sauerkraut tradition will help you start right away. Read all about how sauerkraut helps your body here.
No matter how you enjoy your sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, remember that what’s good for you on January 1st is just as good for you the rest of the year, because any day is a good day to enjoy the delicious tang of sauerkraut. And, if you happen to find a little luck, all the better.