Sauerkraut was constant item on menu in Apps' household

Jerry Apps
Fried, baked and even made into cakes, sauerkraut was a familiar items on the Apps' family dinner table.

It was cold. It was snowy. It was time.

I pulled out my big cast-iron frying pan from my wood burning cook stove’s oven. It was the same frying pan my mother used when I was a kid. I took a big jar of sauerkraut from the fridge and dumped half into the frying pan. I cut up some sausage and mixed it with the kraut, then put the big pan on the hottest part of my old cook stove. 

Soon the kraut began to bubble as its smell seeped into the kitchen, bringing back many memories. Growing up on our farm, every winter without fail, we had a big crock of sauerkraut brewing in the pantry. Each fall, we cut several heads of cabbage, shredded them, and packed them into a five gallon crock, adding salt between each layer. We ate sauerkraut at least once a week all winter long.

Fried sauerkraut. Baked sauerkraut. Sauerkraut with ham. Sauerkraut with sausage. Even sauerkraut chocolate cake—mighty fine tasting.

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I stirred the kraut and sausage and waited. Cooking on a wood burning cook stove requires patience. When the kraut turned to a golden brown, I dumped it on my plate—supper was ready. And what a treat it was. It was a meal full of memories. When I finished, the cleaned frying pan went back in the oven until next time.

THE OLDTIMER SAYS: When was the last time you ate sauerkraut as the main course of your meal? Give it a try—you may be surprised?

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to 

Got a hankering for sauerkraut? Visit D7 for recipes.