Sauerkraut for Thanksgiving? Only in Perry Hall

Tell us about the unique dishes you enjoy on America's favorite feasting holiday.

I'm holding a can of my mother's finest homemade sauerkraut. It's crisp, sour and savory, and do you know what it reminds me of?


It wasn't until I spent my first November in Utah (it was 2004) that I was informed how unusual it was to eat sauerkraut with anything other than Polish sausage or a Reuben.

The Utahns didn't understand my side dish, but at least my boyfriend's family one year allowed it on the table.

I was the only one who ate it. I told them it was a Perry Hall thing.

But is that really true? If it's a Perry Hall thing, then other must do it too. This community does have some pretty vibrant .

I like my sauerkraut nestled between the turkey and the mashed potatoes and covered in gravy. It's also great as more of a standalone dish when my makes it Czechoslovakian-style with a floury rue and caraway seeds.

I crave it. It's absolute comfort food.

If your family is also enjoying sauerkraut this holiday, please let me know in the comments—then I won't feel so alone.

But I'd also love to hear about the unique dishes that make your Thanksgiving special. Tell me about them and feel free to share your recipes in the comments as well.

Dennis Robinson,Jr. November 24, 2011 at 12:05 PM
Every year Jacob and I get sausage from Binkert's on Philadelphia Road and combine it with sauerkraut.
Pat November 24, 2011 at 12:24 PM
My mother served sauerkraut primarily when we had pork chops for dinner. And on Thanksgiving. Like the author I like mine mixed between the potatoes and meat covered in gravy. Though when I'm halfway through their all mixed together! Good stuff! On Sunday's when watching Nascar and/or football, I'll cut up some Kielbasa and slow cook it in sauerkraut. The flavors mix together well and is so good. Not sure about the Perry Hall thing as I was raised on the west side(Catonsville)as were my parents. Mom with Dutch and Dad with German backgrounds may be the culprit for me.
Melody McSweeney November 24, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Absolutely must be part of Thanksgiving Dinner - I am always amazed when it's not on someone's table. It is our responsibility to pass this tradition on! One set of grandparents was pure Irish - the other set from Solomon's Island and we all had sauerkraut with Thanksgiving Dinner! Maybe it originated at a Baltimore thing?
Paul November 24, 2011 at 01:37 PM
My mother is Polish and sauerkraut and kielbasa is serverd with all holiday meals, and then some. Visiting my grandmother in Canton many years ago, the house always smelled of sauerkraut and kielbasa.
Cliff November 24, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Sauerkraut has been asbsorbed into my family's Thanksgiving dinner, and I think it is a natural part of the dinner now. It originated from a German family in Baltimore, through my wife, whose ex-husband was in that family; and now it is part of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner in Perry Hall.
Honeygo Hal November 24, 2011 at 02:22 PM
I grew up in Overlea, but now I am a "Haller", and sauerkraut and kielbasa was part of many meals my grandmother fixed for holidays. She mixed and stuffed the kilbasa herself and to this day it is the best I've ever had (but maybe I'm biased ;-) .) The tradition continues, as my brother-in-law makes his own version. So I don't think it can be claimed as a Perry Hall thing, but with the high concentration of German (kielbasa is actually Polish) families it would be natural to see many folks enjoying it. I think I will be having some today, and I can't wait!
Stephanie November 24, 2011 at 04:21 PM
I agree--while I grew up in Perry Hall, my parents and grandparents did not, and we've always had sauerkraut for Thanksgiving. My family is Polish and we always have the sausage for every holiday too. I fixed my sauerkraut yesterday and I add brown sugar and apples, yum, yum. The house still smells like it. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
helene November 24, 2011 at 04:21 PM
had sauerkrat every holliday and still do It is a must, From overlea, pretty close to perry Hall... But I think it is just a Baltimore thing Hon,Cause my In Laws are from Bowley quarters and they always had sauerkrat also, Sooooo We here in Baltimore Know what goes an the Table at the Hollidays and that is why the Krat is there...So put the krat between the Turkey and eat ... The way It was ment to be....happy Thanksgiving you all...Helene from Overlea
Joan November 24, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Yep, sauerkraut has been in our family all 76 of my years. My grandparents were directly from Germany. All their children born here including my Mother. We cooked it with pork, and when I married my husband his family cooked it with Kabasa. So I do too now. We use Ostrowski's polish sausage and I have lived all over Baltimore. For a short time lived in Cincinnati. At the ballgames they had Kabasa as their main "hot dog" as that is a German city also. Happy Thanksgiving everyone....Joan from Fullerton.
Sherri November 24, 2011 at 05:52 PM
I too always have sauerkraut on the Thanksgiving table. I mix my mashed potatoes, kraut, gravy, and maybe a little bit of stuffing together for the perfect bite...Lol.
Anne November 25, 2011 at 01:02 AM
Sauerkraut is a MUST HAVE! Cooked all day with some country pork ribs and smothered with mashed potatoes and gravy! MMM...MMM....GOOD! We grew up in old White Marsh and most everyone I know includes the "kraut" with the holiday meal!
Patty Gavrilis November 25, 2011 at 01:13 AM
I work at one of the local middle schools and when they serve sauerkraut at the holiday meal its always my favorite. Consensus at school is the only ones who have it for holidays are Baltimore natives.
Dave November 25, 2011 at 07:01 AM
Sauerkraut has always been part of my family's Thanksgiving. We usually pair it with cranberry as it is a nice balance of sour, savory and sweet. My parents were born in Baltimore and have some German roots. They've been in Howard County for the past 40 years or so, and that is where I grew up. While it is normal on my family's Thanksgiving table, I'm pretty sure it would be seen as an oddity on my in-laws', who are from upstate NY and now live in Annapolis. They on the other hand serve crab cakes and shrimp alongside the turkey, and apple crisp alongside pumpkin pie, which I'm sure my family would find strange, but I absolutely love. To me Thanksgiving is the quintessential of American holidays, and of course the oldest. So it makes sense that it is a "melting pot" just like the US at large. There are widespread accepted traditions: the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc., but each and every family have their own distinct heritage, as well. Sometimes that means lasagna next to the bird, or crab cakes next to the sweet potatoes; sometimes it means sauerkraut. They are all equally American. And all usually delicious.
Bonnie Hyle November 25, 2011 at 08:06 AM
I grew up in Baltimore City and now live in Perry Hall for the past 28 years. We always had sauerkraut cooked with pork on Thanksgiving. My dad was Irish and German and my mom English and Scottish. I think it is definitely a Baltimore tradition. Since becoming an adult my recipe now includes carraway seed with the pork, cooked all day in a crock pot. We all love it!!
Rose November 25, 2011 at 02:39 PM
I cook a pork roast on Wed with kraut. Then, we have the leftover kraut with our turkey on Thur. Yum! My sister fries her kraut with mushrooms & onions. Very good too! My relatives from WVa think it's crazy to serve kraut on Thanksgiving...haha.
Monica November 25, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Every year someone from the north will be shocked to hear that we have sauerkraut with turkey!!!! It is a real Baltimore thing that our European ancestors brought with them. All of our holiday meals must have sauerkraut cooked with some caraway seeds or with kielbasa or everyone would be asking "Where is the sauerkraut????" Yum!
Richard November 26, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Rich I make my own sauerkraut and we have it on our table for Thanksgiving supper. Cook it all day with some celery sausage. I like it just like that now my wife on the other hand she is from South Baltimore and she puts ketchup on it.
OrangeWay November 28, 2011 at 04:13 PM
I grew up in Baltimore and my grandmother (Irish and French) made sauerkraut with pork chops every single year for Thanksgiving. She also used a crock-pot. I did not discover that it was odd until I was in the 12th grade. Our teacher did an informal poll because he had never heard of it until he moved to Baltimore. The entire class raised their hands when he asked if they had sauerkraut at Thanksgiving. He just could not figure it out! He kept saying "But I don't understand...you can't ALL be German!"
Marty Utz December 02, 2011 at 02:05 PM
We always had sauerkraut, and cole slaw on the table when I was growing up. Then when I had my first Thanksgiving meal with my wife's family the table was missing the sauerkraut! I commented on the missing staple, and ever since when we share our meal with her family they have sauerkraut just for me.
Kathy Miller November 22, 2012 at 01:50 AM
We always had sauerkraut at every holiday meal. My grandparents are from WV and my grandfather made homemade sauerkraut. Of course, my grandfather's last name was Puffenberger.
Alison Jones November 26, 2012 at 06:25 PM
In my family we have always had sauerkraut on Thanksgiving and Christmas. If there was turkey, sauerkraut was and will always be there. My grandfsther's family lived in Baltimore and that's just the way it was done. I have learned that it is a regional thing and living here In the south most people think it's strange but my southern husband now puts some on his plate too!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something