Pork and Sauerkraut

Having Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year's Day is a tradition of ancient and rural origin. Being of German heritage our family has had Pork and Sauerkraut for New Year's Day every year of our lives. Why is Pork and Sauerkraut so important? My mom always told us that we had to have pork on New Year's Day because we wanted to "root like a pig during the coming year." She always added, "You would never want to have any kind of fowl for New Year's Day because you would end up scratching for a living all year long." Pigs are considered good luck charms and cabbage is symbolic of money so when pairing the two you are preparing yourself for a prosperous year ahead.

Looking back in time, farm families that had a pig felt they were lucky because it would feed their family during the winter. Thus, pigs became good luck charms. In German one says "ich habe Schwein gehabt," which translated literally means "I have had pig." Figuratively it means "I have had good luck!" Little pigs of cake or candy (marzipan) are also produced and represent luck.

Another old German-American custom is called "shooting in the New Year," which meant going throughout the village and firing a few shots into the air by friends' homes. This is an ancient custom that was to ward off any evil spirits lurking around the home as the New Year began.
This custom has now evolved into shooting off fireworks to welcome in the New Year, for some folks. I remember my father "shooting in the New Year" when I was a little girl.

Pork and Sauerkraut
(adapted from Cooking with Annemarie)

Serves 8

1 loin of pork (4 to 5 pounds)
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 jars sauerkraut (abt 28-32 ounces each)
2 1/2 cups white wine
1 bay leaf
5-7 juniper berries
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a heavy pan such as a dutch oven, heat the oil, add the pork and brown on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside.

Add the onions, cooking until lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil.

Return the pork to the pan. Cover. Place in the oven and cook until the pork reaches 170 degrees. About 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Medium 160 degrees; well done 170 degrees)

Remove the pork from the oven. Let it rest before slicing. Place the sliced pork on a platter and surround it with the sauerkraut.


This is really too delicious to have only once a year! It is wonderful comfort food!


  1. Yummmm, a good stick-to-the-ribs German dinner. This is the kind of food I grew up on and I love it. I remember the crocks of sauerkraut fermenting in the basement. I just put a loin of pork on my grocery list.

  2. hmmmmnn..Pork and sauerkraut.... something different..

  3. Oh, I should have been there. I remember this well. And the crocks of sauerkraut as Cathy mentioned. Oh yes, it was god.

  4. Looks great Kate! Thank you for the story behind pork & sauerkraut for New Years Day.

    My (non-German) mom used to make this for us frequently while growing up. I adore sauerkraut!

    Hmmm, glad we didn't have chicken last night... but we DID have quiche. I wonder what THAT means for the coming year? I guess we'll have to wait and see. :)

    Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  5. Giving a gift of a marzipan pig for good luck is also common on New Year's Day! (In German it's called a Glücksschwein!)

  6. Choucroute garni! This is exactly what we ate here in Belgium on New Years Day. We had two kinds of pork sausages and some ham with it. We also put a coin under our plates while we ate it to ensure prosperity in the new year.

    Yours looks veryveryvery good!

  7. Looks like a delicious way to ring in the New Year!

  8. Looks great. Well done Kate. Wish you happy new year.

  9. Kate....the pork look so very very moist! Yum.... And the dish is familar (coming from a German family myself) but your presentation is so much more beautiful than I ever remember being served!

  10. i've never heard of having pork and sauerkraut as a new year's tradition--how interesting! my brother can't get enough of sauerkraut--he could put away your entire batch here. granted, we'd all be suffering later, but he could do it. :)

  11. Happy New Year Kate! The pork looks so succulent. And saurekraut is a favorite too.

  12. Haven't had saurekraut in years. My mother used to make it all the time. (Also German ancestry) She always served it with spareribs or pork chops. It was never a favorite of mine, but I'm willing to try it again after all these years. Looks delicous.

  13. This is a New Years tradition at our house as well. It was my MIL's and we carry it on to this day. The simmering of the pork in the sauerkraut makes it melt in your mouth delectable. I being from the south have to add my black eyed peas though. I guess some traditions are hard to break but who would want to when its delicious.

  14. Oh yum.....Happy New Year. Your dinner looks magnificent. Sehr gut, ya?


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