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Chow Chow

Chow Chow is a classic southern tangy and sweet relish made from tomatoes, pepper and cabbage. An all purpose condiment that can be used on so many foods!

A FAVORITE CHOW CHOW RELISH RECIPE

If you’re looking for a tangy and delicious relish to add some zing to your meals, then Chow Chow is just what you’re looking for. It is not your typical pickle style relish. This classic Southern condiment is found in many Appalachian regions and across the South. With its combination of crunchy vegetables, sweet and tangy flavor, and blend of seasonings, it’s the perfect topping for so many things. As with all old family recipes, everyone has their own way of making it and some folks may do it differently, this is just my favorite way to make it.

Two glass jars of Chow Chow.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’S):

What is the difference between Piccalilli and Chow Chow?

They are both types of relishes commonly found in Southern cuisine. While they share some similarities, there are a few key differences between the two.
Piccalilli is known for its spicy flavor profile and usually includes some of the same ingredients as Chow Chow, but also includes red pepper flakes or other hot spices.
Chow Chow is a milder relish that is often described as being sweeter and more tangy than Piccalilli. Chow Chow is usually softer in texture than Piccalilli as well.

These are all generalities and not hard and fast rules, as over the generations, these condiments have evolved. However, a lot of folks use the two words interchangeably.

Can you make Chow Chow with red tomatoes?

You could. It should be noted that it is traditionally made with green tomatoes. I haven’t tried it with red tomatoes, but I think it would work if you wanted it to. Just be careful, as it might be a bit more watery. The best substitute for green tomatoes would be tomatillos.

Can I add some spices to this recipe?

You bet! To add some heat, you can chop up some fresh jalapeños or add some red pepper flakes to the mix.

What do you put Chow Chow on?

It can be put on so many things. Anywhere you would use relish normally, you can use this. It’s great on hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ sandwiches and my absolute favorite is to put it on some soup beans (see photo) with cornbread – so good! In the South, you’ll find it on the table to serve with just about anything. A small glass bowl of Chow Chow with a spoon on top.

How much relish does this recipe make?

This recipe makes 11 cups. When figuring out serving sizes, most people consider a Tablespoon to be a serving size (personally I would use more than that but we will use it as an example.) So, with 16 tablespoons in a cup, 11 cups has about 176 servings or so.

Can you preserve this?

Definitely! I always do when I am making up a big batch (especially when vegetables are in season.) To learn how to safely preserve (can) food, follow this safe canning guide from Ball’s website.

How long does this last?

Since it is pickled, this relish will last in the fridge for up to 4 months. Freeze for up to 3 months (once thawed, it will last in the fridge for an additional 4 months.)

Can this be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze this for later if you don’t want to can it. Transfer cooled Chow Chow to a freezer safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before serving. Keep in mind that the texture may change once it’s been frozen.

A spoon scooping out some Chow Chow Relish from a Mason jar.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • medium green tomatoes – see my FAQ’s above about the use of green tomatoes.
  • small sweet onions – Vidalia onions work perfect here if you can find them but any sweet onion will do.
  • green, red and yellow bell peppers – I always make this with a combination of peppers. It adds color and flavor. You can use whatever combination of peppers you prefer but you cannot make Chow Chow without peppers.
  • medium green cabbage – I don’t advise on using red cabbage as this will change the color of the relish. However, if you really want to, I can’t stop you.
  • pickling salt – it really needs to be pickling salt – not regular salt. It doesn’t have any additives in it and is meant to keep the brine of your relish nice and clear.
  • apple cider vinegar– white vinegar can also be used.
  • granulated sugar – this sugar offsets a lot of the tanginess that you get from he green onions and vinegar.
  • mustard seed and celery seed – do not use the powdered/granulated version here. You will end up with a cloudy brine mixture that will not look appetizing and also can affect the overall taste.
Green tomatoes, sweet onions, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, green cabbage, pickling salt, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, mustard seeds, and celery seeds.

HOW TO MAKE CHOW CHOW

Cut the green tomatoes into a large dice. Place into a food processor, but do not overcrowd the machine; you will need to work in batches. Process the tomatoes until they resemble a fine relish. Do not over-process or you will get tomato puree. Pour into a large bowl.

collage of two photos: green tomato chunks in a food processor bowl; green tomatoes processed into fine bits.

Repeat with the onions and bell peppers. We are going to do the same thing with the green cabbage, but make sure only to use 4 cups of finely chopped cabbage. You probably will not use the whole head of cabbage. Once everything is chopped and in a large bowl, add the pickling salt. Stir well to combine, cover, and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.

collage of three photos: processed onions, peppers, cabbage and green tomatoes in a bowl; mixture all stirred together; pickling salt added on top of relish mixture.

Drain the mixture well and then rinse thoroughly. Allow to drain well again. Place the mixture into a Dutch oven. Add the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and celery seed. Stir to combine. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

collage of two photos: chopped veggies added to a large pot then topped with sugar, vinegar, celery and mustard seeds; mixture after it has been simmered for 10 minutes.

Take off the heat and add the mixture to mason jars. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.

Two jars filled with Chow Chow Relish.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

A spoon scooping some Chow Chow Relish out of the jar.

Chow Chow

Chow Chow is a classic southern tangy and sweet relish made from tomatoes, pepper and cabbage. An all purpose condiment that can be used on so many foods!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 176 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cut the green tomatoes into a large dice. Place into a food processor, but do not overcrowd the machine; you will need to work in batches.
    Green tomato chunks in a food processor bowl.
  • Process the tomatoes until they resemble a fine relish. Do not over-process or you will get tomato puree. Pour into a large bowl.
    Finely chopped green tomatoes.
  • Repeat with the onions and bell peppers.
  • We are going to do the same thing with the green cabbage, but make sure only to use 4 cups of finely chopped cabbage. You probably will not use the whole head of cabbage.
  • Once everything is chopped and in a large bowl, add the pickling salt. Stir well to combine, cover, and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.
    Pickling salt on top of diced bell peppers, onion, green tomatoes, and cabbage.
  • Drain the mixture well and then rinse thoroughly. Allow to drain well again.
    finely diced vegetables in a bowl after sitting in pickling salt all night.
  • Place the mixture into a Dutch oven. Add the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and celery seed. Stir to combine.
    Chow chow veggie relish with vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and celery seed in a mixing bowl.
  • Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
    Chow Chow Relish in a dutch oven cooking.
  • Take off the heat and add the mixture to mason jars. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.
    Two jars filled with Chow Chow Relish.

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 15kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 3g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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