Chow Chow-Tomato Relish And Fried Green Tomato Season Is Here

chow chowFall will soon be upon us. Many of us will soon feel the cool morning air dipping into the 40’s and 30’s at night. Our gardens may be filled with green tomato’s, fresh onions and cool weather vegetables like cabbage. The question always arises, What to do with all those green tomato’s still on my vines. You can always use some of them up by serving up fried green tomato’s. Still you may want to consider making Chow Chow {green tomato relish}. Either is a great use for green tomato’s.

This comes from my great grand mother’s recipe note book. She had little formal education and her hand written notes are at best a bit cryptic. Sometimes she used terms, plants, herbs and spices that we are not sure just what she was talking about. I’m sure many of them are wild plants that she harvested and used in feeding a husband and 9 hungry kids.

She was born in Mississippi in 1870. She traveled to Texas by wagon in 1889. She always complained that it took the better part of one summer to travel from Mississippi to Texas, and that she walked all the way. Not sure but I’ll bet she rode part of the time.
All of her families possessions were in that one small wagon pulled by 2 big steers (that would later become food to feed her family), to include her pride possession her wood burning cook stove.
She cooked on that stove until the kids, grand kids and great grand kids remodeled her kitchen in the mid 1950’s. Bless her, she passed away at 91 still complaining that her food tasted bad cooked on a propane gas stove.

I get side tracked at times.
Back to my recipe problem. The best I can tell this is her Green Tomato Chow Chow recipe. Those of you not from the south, chow chow is a name commonly used in association with sweet green tomato based relish.

1 peck green tomatoes about {12 or 15 pounds}
5 lbs. strong yellow onions {don’t use those taste less sweet white onions}
1 large head of cabbage, sliced 1/4 thick and chopped
5 lbs. sugar
5 red hot chili peppers {you need at least 3 of these and more if you like your chow chow hot and spicy}
2 cups chopped sweet green bell peppers (about 4)
2 cups chopped sweet red bell peppers (about 4)
* 1 cup pepper weed seed {no one seems to knows what this is so it is omitted from our chow chow} Maybe it’s something that grew wild in Mississippi.
2 or 3 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon turmeric
3 tablespoons celery seed
1 package of pickling spices
About 1 qt. of cider vinegar
Note about Grandma: Depending what was left in her garden, sometimes she threw in a few diced carrots or may be a celery rib or two.

Chop all vegetables; combine in a large kettle. Stir in salt; let stand at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours before draining off excess juice(s).

Mean while, slice or dice green tomatoes and sprinkle with 1 cup salt, place them in a clean old white pillowcase and hang them from a close line pole over night. {This will remove most of the green tomato juice from your bag of sliced green tomato’s} I’ll bet wrapping your sliced tomato’s in cheese cloth would work just as well.

In the morning rinse and drain once to remove excess salt. Using a meat grinder, {or course chop by hand} coarse grind tomatoes, onions, peppers. In a large pot, add sugar and spices or {wrap spices in a cheesecloth if you like} and add to mixture. Add enough vinegar to almost cover. Cook uncovered over a very low fire for 4 hours.

Using juices from tomatoes and onions. Fill hot sterilized canning jars to 1/2 inch from the top process in water bath and seal. Makes about 8 to 10 pints.
Note: Sterilize jars in a boiling water bath insuring jars are completely covered with water.

Not a relish person! Try this Fried Green Tomato Recipe

Wait! Don’t turn up your nose and say ‘yuk’ until you have tried them! They taste great, and it’s a good way to use up excess green tomato’s from your garden. Many people prepare them the same way they would prepare squash or egg plant for pan frying.

I stole this serving hint idea from an Italian sidewalk cafe in far northern Italy, whether it be fried green tomato’s, okra, squash or egg plant, grate a little ‘real’ Parmesan cheese on them just before serving. {Don’t even think about using that stuff in a can or box, doing a bad imitation of Parmesan cheese}.

3 medium, firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cornmeal {Being from the Southwest, I like cornmeal}
1/4 cup good quality olive oil or canola oil if you prefer
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

How to do it
Cut unpeeled green tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Let tomato slices stand for 45 minutes or more to drain excess water. Meanwhile, place flour, milk, eggs, and cornmeal/bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes.

Heat 2 Tbsp of lard or good quality olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then cornmeal/bread crumbs. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 4-6 minutes on each side (turn only once) until brown. As you cook the rest of the tomatoes, add lard or olive oil as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is the way my grandma and mother did it, and of course it’s the way I fry them. ORIGINAL SOUTHERNER’S FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
fresh green tomatoes
flour or cornmeal or corn bread mix
Pork Lard (Or a good quality Olive oil or vegetable oil)
Slice tomatoes about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Spread on plate. Sprinkle salt evenly over tomatoes. Continue placing tomato slices in layer over previous layer and sprinkle with salt until all tomatoes have been salted.
IMPORTANT: LET THE TOMATOES SIT AT(ROOM TEMPERATURE OR REFRIGERATOR) AT LEAST SIX (4) HOURS. This removes water from tomatoes so that they will cook up nice and crispy.

Remove tomatoes from container, rinse off excess salt. Mix flour/corn meal, a little salt and pepper (to taste) in bowl. Coat each tomato slice with flour/corn meal. LET SIT 20 – 30 MINUTES. (This fixes the batter to your tomato’s so it stays affixed to your tomato’s while frying.)

Heat oil in a skillet to medium high. Place tomatoes in oil. (Reduce heat as necessary). Let tomatoes brown on one side, then turn (turn only once) and brown on the other. When tomatoes are a golden brown, remove one at a time and place on paper towels to drain.

Why is Common Sense so Uncommon?
Don’t be Shy. Leave me your Comment(s)


One response to “Chow Chow-Tomato Relish And Fried Green Tomato Season Is Here

  1. Thanks for the great recipes and the story of your great Grandma. Here in the Pacific Northwe[s]t we often have a mountain of green tomatoes that don’t ripen. I make lots of green tomato mincemeat for vegetarian Christmas tarts and cakes as well as fried green tomatoes. You are right about the parmesan cheese on the fried green tomatoes … really good eating … S.


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