Transform any meal with a spoonful of this chow chow recipe, a classic Southern relish that’s a flavorful combination of tart, sweet, crunchy, and spicy.
If you have never heard about chow chow relish before, you’re in for a treat! This is a classic Southern condiment that people often called the end-of-season relish. Did your granny make this? If yes she would likely get all the leftover vegetables from her garden, like green tomatoes, under-developed bell peppers, onions, and cabbage, and make a big batch of chow chow relish. It made sure nothing was ever wasted, which was so important back in those days.
Using four main veggies: onions, cabbage, green tomatoes, and green and red bell peppers. But just like they did back then, you can use whatever veggies you want that you don’t want to waste. Our veggies are pickled in a tart, sweet, and flavorful combination of white vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric.
The instructions are thankfully pretty simple. All we have to do is finely chop up our vegetables, let them soak in salt overnight, and then bring the remaining ingredients to a boil the following day. Then it’s just a matter of canning the relish. This is such an easy chow chow relish recipe to follow and I just know you’re gonna love how tasty it is! The combination of flavors is irresistible.
Now let’s get to this recipe so I can enjoy a big bowl of red beans with chow chow and cornbread.
- Green tomatoes
- Red and green bell pepper
- Coarse salt
- Granulated sugar
- Mustard seed
- Celery seed
- White vinegar
How to Make Chow Chow Relish
Chop vegetables finely using a food processor or grinder.
Place the chopped vegetables in a porcelain or glass container and sprinkle with the salt.
Cover and let them stand overnight.
Place the vegetables in a large colander and rinse very well under cold running water. Divide into smaller batches if necessary.
Drain thoroughly and place in a large stockpot.
Combine the remaining ingredients…
Then pour over chopped vegetables. Heat to boiling and then boil for 4 minutes.
Ladle into clean pint jars that have been sterilized in boiling water.
Seal with sterilized lids according to manufacturer instructions.
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Here’s my canning tutorial for more info.
Now enjoy your homemade chow chow relish with some beans and cornbread. YUM!
When canned properly and stored in a cool, dry place, the green tomato chow chow will last up to one year.
- If you like, substitute the white vinegar for apple cider vinegar.
- For extra heat, add a sliced cayenne pepper or jalapeno pepper to the veggies (remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward).
- Other pickling spices you might like to add to this recipe for chow chow relish (a teaspoon each) include ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and dry mustard (or yellow mustard powder).
- If you don’t have access to green tomatoes, normal tomatoes will work in a pinch.
- You want to use pickling salt or kosher salt, not iodized table salt.
What is chow chow?
Chow chow is a pickled relish condiment made from a variety of vegetables. Its origins are traced back to the South as a way to use up ingredients in the pantry. There’s no traditional chow chow recipe and it can vary from region to region, but the main ingredient is typically green cabbage. You can eat it by itself or add it as a main dish topping for extra flavor.
Chow chow is also a common recipe in the Pennslyvania Dutch area and in Britain where they call it Piccalilli. Amish chow chow recipe ingredients are very similar, but they often use different vegetables like green beans, lima beans, cauliflower, and corn kernels.
What does chow chow taste like?
Chow Chow tastes like a pickled relish, so it’s both sweet and sour thanks to the combination of sugar and vinegar.
How do you serve chow chow?
Southern chow chow goes well with so many Southern dishes. Here are some serving suggestions:
- Serve it as a Southern side dish with cornbread and a main dish like Southern fried catfish or Southern fried chicken.
- As I mentioned, it’s so good with red beans and cornbread or pinto beans and ham.
- Add it as a topping to sandwiches like pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs.
- Pour it over cream cheese and serve alongside crackers.
- Add it to your next charcuterie board.
- Stir the chow chow into deviled eggs or potato salad.
Check out these other Southern specialties:
Hush Puppies Recipe, Southern-Style
Southern-Style Fried Okra Recipe
Southern Biscuit Recipe (3 Ingredients Only)
Oven-Baked Mac and Cheese (Southern Plate Favorite)
- 12 medium onions 4 cups
- 1 medium head cabbage 4 cups
- 10 green tomatoes 4 cups
- 12 green bell peppers
- 6 sweet red bell peppers
- ½ cup coarse salt
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp mustard seed
- 1 tbsp celery seed
- 1 ½ tsp turmeric
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- Chop vegetables finely using a food processor or grinder. Place the chopped vegetables in a porcelain or glass container and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and let them stand overnight.12 medium onions, 1 medium head cabbage, 10 green tomatoes, 12 green bell peppers, 6 sweet red bell peppers, ½ cup coarse salt
- Place the vegetables in a large colander and rinse very well under cold running water. Divide into smaller batches if necessary.
- Drain thoroughly and place in a large stockpot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chopped vegetables. Heat to boiling and then boil for 4 minutes.6 cups granulated sugar, 2 tbsp mustard seed, 1 tbsp celery seed, 1 ½ tsp turmeric, 4 cups white vinegar, 2 cups water
- Ladle into clean pint jars that have been sterilized in boiling water. Seal with sterilized lids according to manufacturer instructions. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Everything that is past is either a learning experience to grow on,
a beautiful memory to reflect on, or a motivating factor to act upon.
– Denis Waitley.
Submitted by Jenny. Submit your positive or motivational quote by clicking here.
Oh my! I have searched for this recipe in my traveled across the U.S. My foster mom Mrs Emma Brown, now deceased, used to make this chow chow. She was born in Broder Kentucky, 1903.
I have found many versions, but all had items that were not in Mama’s chow chow. We ate it pinto beans, corn bread, pork neck bones,and picked beets. Althought none of us kids remembered the chow chow recipe, all of us were taught to make corn bread from scratch.
Preheat the oven to 425
1 cup flour
1 cup of corn meal
1 cup of sugar (she liked it sweet)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 cup of buttermilk
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and pour into a pre-greased iron skillet. Bake until golden brown.
I hope you get the chance to make the chow chow and it tastes exactly as you remember!!!
The Walton and Crane families from Danville VA have almost this exact recipe. I never cared for green peppers and certainly no onions! I love anything else pickled so as a child, I pulled the dill relish out and made that my chow chow. To this day, I love a big ole’ spoon of it on my mess of collard greens! There are so many things I wish I could ask them and that recipe was one! I have retired to AZ and rarely have collards but the hankerin’ is always there. (No, I still do not eat many types of peppers and found I have a onion allergy) Next time I’m in VA for the holidays I will be making my dad’s moms collards and to surprise everyone I will have my moms’ mom’s chow chow. Thank you for sharing these heirloom recipes!
To my amazement this is the exact recipe , from the numbers of vegetables and teaspoons of ingredients passed down in my family for over 150 years. My ancestors are from Germany ending up in southern Illinois. Wow, has to be a cross link there somewhere. So glad to run across your website,like meeting a family member.
Oh WOW!!! Isn’t that something?!!
Thank you so much for posting this, my mother passed and I made this several times and then lost the recipe.
I was just thinking about my amazing great grandmother Martin- Flippin who was from va/nc.
She made chow chow and it was so very good. Her recipe was very similar to yours.
My grandmother would make the best cornbread (not sweet but crunchy) to go with it. Sometimes they would eat the left over cornbread with buttermilk. Thanks for the recipe.
I hope you (& Joyce) don’t mind that I referenced this recipe for my blog based on my great-grandmother’s diary from 1936. I made sure I credited & linked to your blog.
My mom always had a large garden as a child and she would always make chow chow. It’s hard to find the true thing in Calif. I was in Mo. on vacation and came across some. It reminded me of my childhood. How wonderful to find your grandmothers recipe. And can hardly wait to make some and have a big old “mess” of collard greens or black eyed peas. Thanks so much for sharing. Oh, I’m originally from Ark.