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Dec 22, 2006 09:25 PM

Sauerkraut and Turkey

I am cooking Xmas dinner for my family and am preparing sauerkraut to go with the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. This is an old Baltimore custom, I guess derived from the overwhelming German presence here at one time. (I understand this was true in York and H-burg as well.) Am I a dying breed? Does anyone else prepare sauerkraut to go with a turkey dinner?

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  1. funny my family background is german and I have never heard of that.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. We always have saurkraut with turkey as a side dish. My family has been in Baltimore since the 1800s and I know many, many other families from Baltimore who so the same. It is actually quite good.

        1. our family always has creamy coleslaw on the Xmas table for some reason. The crunch goes so well with the mashed potatooes and turkey... I can't wait!

          My grandmother always made it and now my mom does.

          1. Well, who knows ... this post might spread the tradition of turkey with sauerkraut at Christmas or Thanksgiving. I want to try it. How is the kraut served? Is it plain or does it have things in it like apples.

            This is a nice article about it in the Baltimore Sun.

            As you mentioned the writer traces it back to the local German population. He says he never got a good answer why. It is his theory that Goose with sauerkraut is a common German dish and so the pairing of turkey and kraut may have been the result.

            He isn't sure why other areas with large German populations never picked up on it though. Other than Baltimore, the only other place where turkey & kraut is traditional is in Vienna, Mo.

            He also says both cities grow a lot of cabbage, so it might have just been a way to use it up.

            This link talks about unusual Christmas dishes in various parts of the country and mentions the Baltimore kraut as well as onions, apples and carrots.


            Does that mean that those veggies are served along with the kraut or incorporated into it. I'm not sure of the reliability of the info. They mention New England Christmas lumberjack pie which, as a native New Englander, I've never heard of. Never heard of North Carolina's Moravian Love-Feast Buns either

            Anyway as mentioned, this is a long-time Baltimore tradition and even mentioned in a short story by H.L. Mencken called "A Bum's Christmas."

            This is one of the all-time great Christmas stories that gave me a great laugh ... and VERY food-centric. If I ever come into a huge amount of money, I'm going to do something like this at least once in my life.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rworange

              I have heard of sauerkraut with goose and duck. The acidic nature of the dish counteracts the fat in the waterfowl.

              With turkey, that is new to me.