Appalachian Dialect Appalachian Food Preserving/Canning


old timey kraut

A noun Sauerkraut, widely made in the mountains, stored in barrels and kept for winter consumption. The food is the most significant German contribution to mountain cuisine, and the term is one of the very few from German in the mountain vocabulary.
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 289-90 In the vocabulary of the mountaineers I have detected only three words of directly foreign origin. Doney is one. Another is kraut, which is the sole contribution to highland speech of those numerous Germans (mostly Pennsylvania Dutch) who joined the first settlers in this region, and whose descendants, under wondrously anglicized names, form to-day a considerable element of the highland population [note: sashiate is the third word, according to Kephart]. 1939 Walker Mtneer Looks 3 The German word kraut survived, for the obvious reason that there was no equivalent in the technical vocabulary of the Scotch-Irish housewife. 1960 Mason Memoir 15 The barrels were utilized as containers for the storage of such mountain comodities [sic] as saur kraut, pickled beans, bleached apples, and pumpkin butter. 1962 Hall Coll. Newport TN A pregnant woman will spoil kraut or [the] mash for a run of liquor…A woman, when her menstrual period is on, when she makes kraut, it’ll rot. (Burl McGaha) GSMNP-80:15 We would put a cloth over the kraut now and pickled beans, and we’d put this big plank and then we’d hunt and get us a big heavy rock, wash hit off right clean and put it on the plank and that would mash it down in below kraut, and that’s how we would have it, you know, the kraut and pickled beans, [and] you know that kraut was so good we would just go get us a handful, squeeze the juice out and just eat a handful. 1977 Madden and Jones Mt Home 27 Pickled beans and kraut were kept in large stone crocks in the spring-house.
*B verb To make sauerkraut of.
1917 Kephart Word-list 413 I don’t do like old Mis’ Posey, kraut my cabbage whole.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


More than a few interesting tid-bits in the definition for kraut from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.

I wonder if Kephart’s statement about the three words is true? And I wonder what in the heck sashiate means?

I’ve always heard a woman who is menstruating can’t help put up kraut or pickled beans and corn, but never heard about it effecting liquor. And I’ve never heard anything of the sort said about a pregnant woman.

Papaw Tony said his mother would make several crocks of kraut each year. She would can the kraut as a crock made, but she left the last run of the year and they would eat that crock before using the canned kraut. Papaw’s mother krauted the core of the cabbage to. Similar to the person in the definition, Papaw would sneak and stick his dirty little hand down in the crock and dig around until he found a core to eat.

I can’t imagine krauting a whole cabbage-I wonder if it would work?

I’ll leave you with a few kraut posts from the archives of the Blind Pig and The Acorn


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  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    May 16, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    I could drink a gallon of kraut juice I love it!!!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    I remember our maternal Grandmother (Hungarian) making kraut. I can’t remember how she did it though I do remember it being in canning jars in the end. Our paternal Grandmother (Scots/Irish) bought her kraut, and I remember her sending me to the nearby store with a bit of money and strict instructions to buy Silver Floss only. Funny the things we remember as we grow older. LOL
    My favorite way to eat it is stewed gently with smoked sausage for a long time over a low fire (or in a crock pot) until the sausage is almost falling apart. Then serve it with well-buttered mashed potatoes. Yum!!!
    We’re finally getting gentle quenching rain here in the sandhills. Thank God it’s not violent storm, because the farmers nearby recently put in their crops, and I’d hate to see it get washed away.
    Prayers everyone is having a great week.
    God bless.
    <>< BTW - Satiate means well-satisfied. LOL

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    May 23, 2017 at 1:42 am

    LOL Good memories. Granny died in 1990 and I have her kraut crock. If I close it up with the churn dash and take it off later I can still smell kraut. I don’t know what happened to the rock, I had it for many years. How I’d love to have some of her chow..
    Boar’s Head cooler kraut is good enough for me now.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 22, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    On my Daddy’s side we are supposed to be Black Dutch (Deutsche). Dark haired, dark eyed, dark skinned people from the Black Forest region of Germany up next to the Alps. We got chased outta there and went to the Netherlands. They didn’t like us there either so on to England where it was the same old story. There we got up with some of the Scots-Irish, who were getting the same kind of treatment, and came on over to Pennsylvania. From there we spread out down the coast and ended up down in South Carolina for a few years before heading back to the high country of Madison County. Then my branch found land along the Little Tennessee and stayed. We were from Germany and Austria but being as they kicked us out we don’t have much fondness for the place or the language. Except, our love for the mountains. That is in our genes.
    I’d say that’s a big part of why there are so few German words in our mountain talk.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 22, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Maybe I’m old but when we square danced years ago…I never heard a caller use “sashiate”!
    In my neck of the woods the call was always “sashay” to the left or right or other etc.
    Again, I think mountain dialect is playing on our words in certain areas of the mountains!
    Love all the explanations of the word…however, my Dad of German decent, German Grandpa and Granny said this word when speaking of over indulging in certain foods…
    Now then, Kephart never says the word is German in origin and we gals all know Doney is not and Kraut is German! Sooo, “sashiate” could be French used as a dance call for Sashay!
    But then again…we know how Kephart was fond of the ‘sauce’ or ‘stump water’, and when he interviewed all those mountain folks for his books…he tended to stay quite a while. He says he had a great love of the Appalachian food table and as I once read he would invariably “sashiate” himself or over indulge of all the vittles that his belly could hold for free! I’m still pondering which… which is which!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Hey I found it! Here you go:
    “sashiate: [v. to do a sashay in a square dance.] The third [word of clearly foreign origin] is sashiate (French chasse), used in calling scand’lous 141 figures at the country dances (B 364). “Partners sash-i-ate … gents and ladies swing in the center…”
    There is a book “Smoky Mountain Voices” and that is from that book.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    “Sashiate” meant sashay like in square dance. Sashiate your partner. I am certain of this.
    I have heard of a doney gal, a sweetheart/girlfriend.
    Now as for kraut, my folks never used the crock method. I do my kraut the same way my Grandmother and Mom did it. When Mom was telling me the method to can kraut, she told me the story about menustrating women/girls (but pregnant women/girls isn’t correct; my Grandmother had 11 kids–I reckon she’d have never made kraut if that were true haha). Mom said her cousin who was her parent’s age would send her buddy (second cousin her age) over to stay a week when kraut was being made sometimes and her Mom would do the same, send her over to her cousin’s to stay a week. She said she and her same-age cousin didn’t believe it but they loved staying at each other’s houses. Their Mother’s didn’t want the kraut ruint and didn’t want to take any chances on if they were menustrating or not!
    And yes, I have some ancestry from Swiss/German and I did see how they made the name more English later. And yes, they were menonnites. Not all of my ancestors were but that branch was.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 22, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    One more thing. Sometimes I will buy a cabbage, put it in the bottom of the refrigerator in a plastic bag and forget about it. When it starts to rot my wife will tell me to throw it out but I don’t. I take it outside and clean off all the rotten slimey stuff and a couple of layers of leaves under it. The rest is pure white and tender with a milder taste than fresh cabbage. It reminds me of the cabbage we used to bury upside down in the garden and keep all winter. Well maybe not all winter, we’d eat ’em before winter was over.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    My mother didn’t pickle the cabbage core either. There was always a kid or three begging for it when she chopped her cabbage. My son loves cabbage cores.
    I made kraut one time. After it made I tasted it and it was too sour for me and I decided to throw it out. But I didn’t! A few days later I went back to throw it out but decided to try it again. Still to sour! Then it hit me. “Try rinsing it off, stupid!” I did and I bleve that was the best kraut I ever ate.
    Bleve – Sticklers for proper enunciation say believe (bəˈlēv/) but in my corner of Appalachia it’s only one syllable. “Are you uh staying for supper?” “Y yeah, I bleve I will!”
    Do you say bleve?

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I remember my job at kraut making time. I had to take a stiff brush and scrub and scrub and scrub the heavy flat stones that were placed on top of the cabbage to keep everything submerged. Mom used the same two giant kraut crocks for all those years. And I scrubbed the same big stones.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    My Mom would not can tomatoes during that time of the month. She said her Mother had taught her to always work around that time with other canning and garden chores.
    Another thing that lots of Appalachian women would not do is put up anything at all in a #13 Ball Mason Jar…Neither will moonshiners use a #13 jar when the run is to be transported to another place. I hear this brings bad luck, like auto breakdowns and revenuers! Ha When I was a kid rounding the curves (with relatives) back in the mountains near Cosby, we stopped and checked out some old rotting boxes of jars. They’d been thrown over the bank of one of these curves….Yep, near all were #13’s busted all to pieces!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I love kraut raw, cooked or anyways. Once in a while I buy those clear bags of shredded kraut in the cold section at the grocery store. I call it Jew food and it’s good with Kielbasa or summer sausages cooked for a jiffy.
    One time a German mid-wife was helping a lady during childbirth. When asked how many children and what kind did she have, the mid-wife came to the door and said “kraut, kraut, kraut…2 with wiennies and one without.” …Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 22, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Mama made kraut like Pap & Granny did and it was the best ever. I’ve been making it in a big pickle jar. It’s so much better than bought but I have had some go bad–don’t know why.
    Most people cook it with some kind of meat and we like it that way. I’ll usually have cornbread and beans of some kind. Mama made kraut and weenies, too but she also served it plain–cooked with bacon grease & black pepper.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I never heard of doing a whole head of cabbage either. It looks like the brine would have a hard time getting to the center of the cabbage. Also never heard of pregnancy causing a problem with brine curing.
    Again, also, never heard about liquor but that shouldn’t be too surprising because, my family was more prone to public employment than private enterprises.
    My Grandmother always had home made sauerkraut and pickled beans. They were divine!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 22, 2017 at 9:46 am

    As a child I hated kraut. As an adult I like it from time to time but I can do without it too. My wife loves it and anything else that has vinegar in it. I’ve never heard the the superstition about women not putting up kraut or other things during certain times of the month or while being pregnant but I’ll bet if she was the only one to put it up it wouldn’t have been a problem. Some of those superstitions were just crazy. I wish my mom was around so I could ask her about it. I’m sure she knew of it and possibly believed it.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 22, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Sashiate is probably satiate from late Middle English derived from Latin meaning “enough”.

  • Reply
    Leilani Worrell
    May 22, 2017 at 9:10 am

    According to the Smoky Mountain Voices: A Lexicon of Southern Appalachian Speech, sashiate comes from sashay (from the French chasse) used in calling figures at country dances, as in “Partners sashiate, gents and ladies swing in the center, own partners and half-sashiate.” (I googled this.)
    I always love to learn something new, and your blog gives me so many opportunities!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2017 at 8:37 am

    The whiter the kraut, the prouder Mom was. Without a food grinder, she said the chopping and grating was the hardest part of making kraut. Pickled corn on the cob was the only thing Mom ever made in a crock. What I wouldn’t give for an ear of her corn! A lady who owned a tiny store on my way back home, used to make and sell mixed pickles, kraut and pickled corn on the cob until the health department shut her down.
    I have always heard the old timers say women should never make kraut a certain time of the month. That also goes for walking in a cucumber patch during that time.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 22, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Could “sashiate” be “satiate” spelled phonetically? Even if it is, I don’t see why it would be called a foreign word.
    We always had kraut when I was growing up. I recall grating the cabbage as being a big job. For some reason, my Mom never pickled the cabbage hearts.
    Kraut has become one of those things on the ever-lengthening list of foods that do not like me anymore. Once upon a time I mixed kraut with pinto beans, now a double no-no.
    Those cryptic dated references to the source of the usage intrigue me. Looks like there could be some good reading among them, if the books could still be found. Some of them I can translate, like Our Southern Highlanders but others I have no clue about.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 22, 2017 at 6:54 am

    I’m from some of those Germans of NC…Mars Hill. I have heard my Dad tell of his Mother putting up crocks of Kraut and Pickles. He said him and his brothers would go dip out the Kraut she needed when cooking….usually with a big pork roast…They raised and killed and preserved their main meat which was hogs…
    I have heard my Daddy use the word Kephart quoted….”sashiate” many times over….He said the word to mean full like they would steal pickles out of the barrel and eat until they were “satiated”! Kephart just spelled this word in his notes like he heard it….I am positive the word is “satiate”! Meaning to the full with synonyms being…to gorge, stuff, quench or fill….Pronounced…by Webster…like “say-she-ate”. One can check Webster for the voice pronunciation. Appalachians always added their own twist and dialect to their own words as did our German grandparents…
    Kephart heard “Sashiate” not “Say-she-ate” from a mountaineer that added some “sash” to the word when all along meaning to pronounce it like Webster’s “Say-she-ate” satiate!
    That’s my take on a word I’ve heard used many, many times by my Daddy back in the day!
    Now then, that picture of your Kraut looks so good I could satiate myownself with a side of pork roast cooked togather in a large pot, the way my Daddy would cook it…plus cornbread, butter and lasses!
    Thanks Tipper
    Thanks Tipper,

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