Sauerkraut: It’s Thanksgiving in Maryland

Don’t knock it: sauerkraut is great on the Thanksgiving table. And it’s a tradition that falls almost exclusively within Maryland’s borders.

When I moved away for my first job in Boston, I was surprised that Thanksgiving sauerkraut horrified my colleagues and housemates. Sauerkraut certainly horrifies a fair amount of people on an everyday basis. I’ve asked a number of Marylanders whether they also have sauerkraut at Thanksgiving, and the answer is almost always yes, even if the response is “yes, but I don’t eat it.”

Sauerkraut fermentation crocks of all sizes at Lehman's in Dalton, Ohio. RL Fifield 2012.

Sauerkraut fermentation crocks of all sizes at Lehman’s in Dalton, Ohio. RL Fifield 2012.

Certainly, preserved fermented cabbage is a worldwide tradition, including 18th-century sailors that took it on board so that its vitamin C could help ward off scurvy. My great-grandmother made her own in a crock that now stores magazines. We prefer just to grab a can of Silver Floss this day and doctor it with caraway and brown sugar for the table. Like cranberry sauce, sauerkraut is another source of tang and sour to cut through some of the otherwise more bland and rich dishes on the Thanksgiving table.

Read more about Maryland’s Thanksgiving sauerkraut tradition in this Bon Appetit article. I might not care so much if the turkey didn’t turn up at Thanksgiving. But I would miss the sauerkraut.



About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.