Chow Chow using green tomato’s and excess garden vegetables

Posted September 2017. Reworked and updated.

Homemade Green Spicy Relish.

Over run with green tomato’s? Fall gardens are winding down. Many gardeners have a lot of green tomato’s and Chow Chow is a healthy good tasting way to use them before they are damaged by freezing weather.

Chow Chow was born in North America out of an effort to preserve the excess summer produce growing in the backyard, on small farms including green tomatoes, cabbage, hot peppers, bell peppers, onions, and more.
Chow Chow recipes vary widely based on what part of North America you live. Chow Chow consist primarily of chopped green tomatoes, cabbage, onion, and peppers while others can contain ripe tomato’s, carrots, beans, cauliflower, or peas. Regardless of which one you choose, the ingredients are all pickled and packed in canning jars and served cold as a condiment.

Use Chow Chow as you would any other kind of pickled relish. Use it as a topping for hot dogs, hamburgers, or barbeque. It’s also commonly used to give a little spunk to a bowl of beans or a side of cornbread. You can even make a delicious appetizer by adding a little atop a cracker with cream cheese spread.

Chow Chow pairs well with pinto or white beans, hotdogs, burgers, BBQ, chili, stew and just about any other food needing a sweet/sour spicy taste boost.

Grandma’s CHOW CHOW

1 peck (1/4 bushel) green tomatoes about 12 to 15 pounds
5 lbs. yellow onions
1 large head of cabbage course chopped (like you were making coleslaw)
5 lbs. cane sugar
5 red hot chili peppers {you need at least 2 of these and more if you like your chow chow hot and spicy}
4 chopped sweet green bell peppers
4 chopped sweet red bell peppers
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 package of pickling spices
About 1 quart of 5% acid apple cider vinegar

Dice 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 diced green tomato’s.} I’ll bet wrapping your tomato’s in cheese cloth would work just as well.
* Hint: Better yet course grind all of your vegetables in a meat grinder or chop using a food processor.

Chop/grind all vegetables and combine in a large kettle. Stir in salt, let stand covered at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours. Using a colander drain chopped vegetables.

Rinse and drain green tomato’s and other vegetables only once.
In a large pot, add chopped/ground tomatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers, sugar and spices and enough vinegar to almost cover. Cook (simmer) uncovered over a very low heat for 4 hours. Adding additional 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water mixture as necessary.
After 3 1/2 hours or so of cooking time, taste and adjust salt and spices if needed.

Fill hot sterilized canning jars to 1/2 inch from the top and secure lids to jars.
Note: Sterilize jars in a boiling water bath insuring jars are completely covered with water. Don’t forget to sterilize jar tops as well.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow jars to cool over night. Check to insure all jars sealed properly. Any jar that did not properly seal should be refrigerated and consumed with in a week or so.

* Hint: Adjust the vegetables used based on what vegetables are excess to your needs to be eaten fresh from your garden.

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5 responses to “Chow Chow using green tomato’s and excess garden vegetables

  1. I LOVE chow chow. Thank you so much for sharing this!


  2. Also – may need alternatives for low salt diets.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t see salt in the ingredients list. Only see 1 cup salt added to just chopped green tomatoes. After chopping/grinding all vegetables is says to add more salt but doesn’t say how much. What am I missing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is my great grand mothers recipe. If it did not grow in great grandmas garden it didn’t get added to her chow chow pot.
      Granny made spice adjustments years later. She always tasted and added salt to taste during the last 15 minutes of cooking.


  4. I love pickled anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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