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Photo of chow chow in a jar and a bowl with a spoon.
Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Micah Marie Morton
  • Active Time

    1 hour

  • Total Time

    2 hours 40 minutes, plus overnight time

Canning and preserving have long been an essential tactic of survival, and chowchow is a condiment born of both ingenuity and necessity. Here, green tomatoes not yet ripe enough to eat are transformed into a bright pickled expression of the first days of summer. It has been said that chowchow began as a collection of remnant produce that couldn’t be used in other dishes, so it became its own reclaimed relish. As you chop each vegetable, consider that origin: making the most from the least, creating abundance from scarcity. You can use four heatproof glass pint jars for this, though I prefer eight 8-ounce jars instead so I can share it around. Using pickling salt, such as Morton Canning & Pickling Salt, helps the liquid stay clear and keeps the cabbage from turning brown.


Makes about 2 quarts

1 small green cabbage (about 2 lb.), chopped into ½" pieces (about 10 cups)
2 large green tomatoes, cut into ½" pieces
1 large sweet onion, cut into ½" pieces
1 large green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into ½" pieces
1 large red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into ½" pieces
2 Tbsp. pickling salt or 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seeds
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
1½ cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups cane sugar (such as Wholesome) or raw sugar
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Step 1

Toss cabbage, green tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, and salt in a large bowl until all of the vegetables are coated in salt (this will help them release some water). Cover and chill at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours. Drain vegetables.

Step 2

Toast mustard seeds in a large pot over medium-high heat, shaking pan, until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Add both vinegars, sugar, mustard, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.

Step 3

Add garlic and drained vegetables to pickling liquid and mix well. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors have melded and liquid is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. The cabbage and green tomatoes should still have a bit of a crunch. Let cool (this will take about 1 hour).

Step 4

Using a slotted spoon, divide chowchow among sterilized glass jars of choice and spoon pickling liquid over (chowchow should be submerged and there should be about ½" space at the top of each jar. Cover and chill.

Step 5

Do ahead: Chowchow can be made 1 month ahead. Keep chilled. If you’d like to keep it longer, you can use the water bath boiling technique to make the jarred chowchow shelf stable.

How would you rate Chowchow?

  • Can't wait to make this. It sounds very good

    • Lworkman

    • USA, Kentucky

    • 1/30/2021

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