Sauerkraut Crock

This is the stone crock my family has used to make sauerkraut for generations. Honestly, we don’t know many details about our immigration story. My grandpa said it may have been his grandfather who came from Germany and settled in the farmlands of Pennsylvania, but he couldn’t quite remember. He also doesn’t know who bought these crocks or how old they are. He just knows he’s been using them since he was a kid. And he knows the family recipe to make sauerkraut, even though no one’s ever written it down.

My family takes great pride in our secret recipe, but I always enjoyed the process of making the sauerkraut more than eating it. Every year in the fall, three or sometimes four generations of family would gather at our house to make sauerkraut. My grandpa would arrive with a pick-up truck full of freshly harvested cabbages, and we would work all day mashing the kraut in the huge stone crocks. We would leave it to ferment for a few months, and then, keeping with tradition, open the first jar on New Year’s Day to bring us luck and prosperity.

My mom keeps the crocks in her garage, and although much of the family has moved away, she and my grandpa still make sauerkraut every fall. She sends me jars for Christmas, and I always eat a healthy portion on New Year’s Day. Lately I’ve been wondering which of my siblings will inherit the crocks next, how we will find the time to make sauerkraut together, and how we can keep our Pennsylvania Dutch heritage alive. 

Place(s): Germany

– Ben Eshleman

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more