Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chow Chow Relish Recipe

So, I did this whole post featuring a story about one of my "grannies" Maw Maw Tiller, (it really does take a village to raise a kid) along with some rambly musings regarding the gift of Southern cooking and its innate ability to help us preserve traditions, recipes, and most importantly, our recollections.

What I failed to include is a recipe, one that captures why the preservation of heirloom recipes and the "oldways" is more important than ever. We can't lose this, and I think canning a mess of chow chow relish succeeds in encompassing this sentiment. Chow chow is pure Appalachia. Canning and preservation in general lies in the hearts of so many country cooks, but it's chow chow (a.k.a. chow-chow, chowchow or piccalilli) that truly speaks to me.

My mom taught me to make this piquant and sweet relish, which is one that contains cabbage (some recipes don't), and one of my fondest memories is that glorious Sunday afternoon we spent canning jars upon jars of it. While chow chow is delightful enough to eat with a spoon (or on top of a hot dog, yum), it's really made to grace a big bowl of slow cooked brown beans cooked in fatback. 

Chow Chow Relish

Makes about 8 pints

2 cups chopped sweet red peppers
2 cups chopped green peppers
4 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped sweet onions
2 hot peppers, chopped (such as jalapenos)
5 cucumbers, chopped
4 cups chopped, cored green tomatoes
3 tablespoons pickling salt
4 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 cup sugar
2 cups vinegar

Chop up vegetables into a medium dice. Sprinkle with pickling salt; cover and refrigerate overnight. Lightly rinse veggies and drain well.

Put the remaining ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Add the vegetable mixture and cook for about 10 minutes. Pack into sterilized canning jars, leaving about 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims and seal at once according to canning manufacturer's directions. If you don't have any canning materials handy, you can store relish in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

©2012 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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  1. Do you know how long to process this? Most canning books don't have chow chow recipes (in my experience) so I'm not sure. Thanks!

  2. Hey Rachel,

    We processed the cans the same amount of time as we would any relish or pickles, about 10-15 minutes. We really like the Ball canning site for assessing processing times FYI. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Okay, I will look into it then. I've canned hundreds of times but never chow chow.

    2. There's a lot of vinegar in it, so I figure it can be approached similar to pickles or other relishes. Good luck and would love to know what you think of it.

  3. Kendra, we love chow chow. A bowl of beans just wouldn't be the same without it! ☺ Great post!

    1. I agree Melissa 100 percent! Chow chow simply makes a bowl of pinto beans. Can't imagine eating it any other way.


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