I love pickles of all kinds. I went to a deli the other day with members of the Palm Springs Genealogy Society and the deli served small plates of sauerkraut, pickles and pickled green tomatoes. I could have sat there all day just eating that.
It seems that countries all over the world have some sort of version of sauerkraut and/or pickles. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauerkraut, provides a long list of countries that serve a version of sauerkraut, everything from kimchi in Korea to a sour cabbage dish served in Serbia. So it seems that wherever your ancestor came from-they may have used a form of sauerkraut or pickled something. I know my own maternal grandmother use to take pickled beet juice and pickle eggs with it. Boy am I getting hungry....
Sauerkraut also is believed to have some healthful properties. Everything from providing you vitamins to settling your stomach to curing avian flu in birds.
The website, I Love Pickles, http://www.ilovepickles.org/articles/index.html, provides ideas and facts about all types of pickles and pickled dishes. There's a whole website devoted to recipes with sauerkraut at http://www.sauerkrautrecipes.com/recipes.shtml. A pickle history timeline can be found through the New York Food Museum website at http://www.nyfoodmuseum.org/_ptime.htm. And a vintage recipe, straight from the newspaper, can be found here, http://recipecurio.com/icicle-pickles-recipe/.
(Image from Wikipedia)