A favorite condiment of the South, chow-chow is a pickled relish made from a combination of vegetables, mainly green tomato, cabbage, bell peppers and onions, and is served cold as an accompaniment with a variety of foods.
1 medium green cabbage, about 2 pounds
2 red bell peppers
4 green bell peppers
6 green tomatoes
1/3 cup non-iodized salt
Cold water, about 8 cups
8 hot sterilized pint-size jars
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
6 cups cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- Choose vegetables that are garden fresh and free of blemishes. Select a tight head of cabbage with green, tender leaves. Rinse the vegetables several times, making sure all are completely free of debris or grit.
- Lay the cabbage on a cutting board and cut into quarters. Cut out the core and discard. Lay the cabbage flat on the cutting board and shred finely. Rinse 2 to 3 times with cold water and drain.
- Core and dice the red and green peppers; thinly slice the onions; and chop the green tomatoes. Place the vegetables in a large glass or earthenware bowl. (You will probably have to use two bowls.) Sprinkle with the salt, and add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Using a large spoon, toss the vegetables well.
- Cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap and allow the vegetables to remain in the salt brine overnight, preferably in the refrigerator or in a cool place. The next morning, drain the vegetables well and set aside. Prepare the sterilized jars. Meanwhile, tie the pickling spice and mustard seeds in a small piece of cheesecloth or any other white cotton fabric. (Canning purists do this to keep from biting down on seeds and berries when eating the chow-chow. The bag is removed from the relish before canning. It is perfectly acceptable to can the vegetables with the spices.)
- Combine in a large, heavy, stainless steel or enamel pot the vinegar, sugar, turmeric, ginger, and the bag containing the pickling the pickling spice and mustard seeds. (Don't use an aluminum, copper, or iron pot because the interaction of the vinegar and salt with these metals will discolor the vegetables.)
- Add the drained, salted vegetables—the cabbage, red and green peppers, onions, and green tomatoes—and mix well. Cook the vegetables over medium-low heat for just 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Watch carefully because the mixture can stick and burn easily. Remove the pot immediately from the heat. Remove the cloth bag of spices and discard . Pack the vegetables into the hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch space at the top of each jar. Seal at once.
Makes 8 pints.