The Sauerkraut Diaries
On January 2, 2018, I wrote an article about New Year’s Day memories from the early 1900s. Some of these remembrances were gleaned from the diary entries of my mother, Irene (Faus) Hagenbuch. Of note, in 1941 she mentions having sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. As Andrew wrote in January 2016, sauerkraut is a family tradition. My mother’s father, Odis Faus, was well known for his sauerkraut making, especially in the 1970s when he made hundreds of gallons of kraut at his Shiremanstown, PA home.
Although sauerkraut on New Year’s was probably a tradition in our family even before my memories take hold (after my birth in 1953), it was probably the huge sauerkraut making that my grandfather Odis undertook that solidified that tradition. We are fortunate to possess my mother’s diaries from 1992 to 2009. Although the entries are not too detailed, they almost all have a common thread on New Year’s Day: sauerkraut!
Jan. 1, 1992
Frosty, 20 degrees in AM. Sunny. Roasted pork, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, watched 3 parades: Arizona, Rose, CA., and Mummers, Phila.
Jan. 1, 1993
A little sun, colder. Feeling better, stronger. Bob called, had a little kraut, [hot] dogs, m. potatoes. Watched parades. Called Dave.
Jan. 1, 1994
Cold, mostly sunny. Made kraut, kielbasa and pork. Barbara, Ralph, Melanie, Davids, Marks, Ellen, Tommy. Exchanged gifts.
Sauerkraut is usually complimented with mashed potatoes, pork, kielbasa or hot dogs. It’s origin can actually be traced to China and was probably brought into Europe during the 13th century. Germany is especially known for this food. The word “sauerkraut” literally translates to “sour cabbage.”
Jan 1, 1999
New Years. Pork and sauerkraut. Bob called from Monti’s, we took them up yesterday.
Jan 1, 2000
New Years. Bob called. Made pork and sauerkraut. Watched Rose Parade, baked bread.
Jan 1, 2001
10 degrees, sunny. Watched parade, CA. Homer took sauerkraut to George [Bower]. Called Mark and Barbara.
Jan 1, 2002
Roasted pork and kraut, dumplings. Saw the parade, CA.
Jan 1, 2003
New Years. Rain. Pork and sauerkraut and dumplings. Watched parade.
One of the additions which my mother would often make to the sauerkraut and pork was dumplings. These were made with flour, baking powder, salt, and butter (or lard). The ingredients were all mixed into a soft dough and dropped by spoonfuls on top of the sauerkraut broth. Just a hunk of boiled dough—I still enjoy these with my New Year’s day meal.
Sauerkraut can be made in mason jars, barrels, or crocks (as our ancestors surely did). Stored correctly, sauerkraut will keep through the winter in a cool place, such as a root cellar. A running joke between Andrew and me is a story which I swear I read years and years ago about our ancestor, Andreas Hagenbuch.
The story is as follows: One winter during the Revolutionary War, American troops stopped by the homestead in Berks County and were fed stored sauerkraut. The problem is, I cannot find the research to back up this story. So, whenever we come across a family story we cannot corroborate, I joke that it’s probably a “sauerkraut story.”
Jan 1, 2005
Watched the parade from CA. Clear, mild. Made sauerkraut and dumplings. Pork chops from Lera and Larue.
Jan 1, 2007
New Years. Mild, 50 degrees. Homer to see George and to auction. I watched Rose Parade. Bob, Barbara and Mark called. Made sauerkraut and pork.
Jan 1, 2008
Partly sunny. Made pork and sauerkraut. Bob and Mark called. I called David. Watched parade, CA.
Jan 1, 2009
Made sauerkraut and pork, even dumplings. Sunny.
Sauerkraut is a healthy food. It is a source of vitamins B, C, and K. The fermentation process provides more nutrition in the sauerkraut than is found in the original cabbage. It is low in calories, high in magnesium and calcium, and is a good source of fiber. However, too much sauerkraut can cause some problems to the small intestine, if you catch my drift!
Like some other foods, sauerkraut is an acquired taste. Some people will not eat it, some people tolerate it only on New Year’s Day, and other people (like my family) will enjoy it every month or so. Eating sauerkraut is much more than a New Year’s tradition for us. It has become a family tradition, created and strengthened by the Hagenbuch homestead “sauerkraut story,” by the making of gallons and gallons of sauerkraut by my maternal grandfather, and by my mother’s New Years’ meals as evidenced by her diary entries.
Enjoy your sauerkraut on this first day of a new year—2019! In the German language of the first American Hagenbuchs: Frohes Neu Jahr. In the Pennsylvania Dutch language of the later Hagenbuchs: Neijohrwunsch!