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Canning Chow Chow Relish: A Delicious Old Fashioned Recipe

5 from 1 vote

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Chow Chow is a sweet relish made of cabbage, green tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. It’s perfect for hot dogs, deviled eggs, and anywhere relish is required!

You’ve finally made it through the summer. And the garden, which has been a little overwhelming in it’s bounty, has now started to slow down a bit.

The mornings are crisp again, and the cool weather crops are just about ready to harvest.

But those pesky tomatoes just. keep. growing…

Only now, they just all hang out being green. Not even pretending that they’re gonna turn red.

Which is perfect!

Cuz grandma made a canned relish recipe for exactly this time of year.

Pickle relish.

Chow chow.

Piccalilli.

Whatever you call it, they are all pretty similar. Because they’re all about preserving what’s still in the garden right now.

This southern chow chow recipe I’m sharing here is the recipe my mom used when I was a kid. And her mom used it before that. And it’s the same one I’ve used since I started doing my own canning decades ago.

It’s perfect for hot dogs and is the relish I use when I make deviled eggs and tuna salad.

The recipe originally came from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that was published sometime in the 1940’s.

Need more waterbath canning recipes? Grab your copy of The Basics of Waterbath Canning. And get started on your journey to food self sufficiency today.

This canning recipe makes approximately 8 pints or 16 1/2 pints.

I prefer to use the 1/2 pint jars because it’s not something that we use every day and it takes up less room in the fridge that the pints do.

This is also one of those recipes that everyone in the family requests at least one jar of every year.

Because those deviled eggs are just not gonna taste like Grandma’s if you don’t use the right relish!

Although originally this was an open kettle canning recipe, I’ve converted it to a waterbath canning recipe. The vinegar adds enough acidity that it’s safe to can that way.

You can read about the dangers of open kettle canning here.

OK. Let’s get going!

This recipe is a 2 day process, so plan accordingly.

Here’s what you will need:

veggies for chow chow relish

Chow Chow Relish

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of coarsely ground onions (I start with 4 and see where I stand and add more as needed)
  • 1 medium head of green cabbage, coarsely ground (about 4 cups)
  • 10 green tomatoes, coarsely ground (about 4 cups)
  • 12 green bell peppers, coarsely ground
  • 6 red bell peppers, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon celery seed
  • 2 Tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 2 cups water

Equipment

  • waterbath canner
  • 8 pint or 16 1/2 pint canning jars
  • new lids
  • rings/bands
  • jar lifter
  • lid lifter
  • bubble popper
  • canning funnel
  • old towels

NOTE: The number of jars you will need for this recipe will vary depending on how finely you grind the ingredients.

The finer the grind, the fewer jars you will need.

It’s always best to have 2 or 3 extra jars and lids prepared just in case you need them.

Day 1: Prepping the veggies

veggies all chopped up for chow chow.
all the veggies shredded and ready to go

All you have to do today is wash all your veggies in cold water grind them up all up.

At various times, I have used an old hand crank meat grinder, my Kitchenaid mixer with the grinder attachment, and my Ninja food processor.

All of those methods work perfectly fine. Although I have to admit that the food processor is a lot faster.

If you are using a grinder, use the coarse blade.

If you don’t have any of those appliances, that’s ok!

You will need to shred the cabbage and chop it up. Then chop up the rest of the veggies pretty finely.

As you work, toss the chopped vegetables into a large stoneware or stainless steel bowl.

If you use plastic it will retain the smell, and other metals will react with the acid in the tomatoes.

And that, my friends, is no bueno.

Once it’s all in the bowl, mix it up pretty good. Now sprinkle that 1/2 cup of sea salt evenly over the top of the relish mixture.

You don’t need to mix it in. Just leave it on the top. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let it sit overnight.

This step releases a lot of the water that’s in the veggies so you end up with relish instead of soup.

I typically do this step in the evening after dinner.

chow chow veggies covered with coarse salt.
veggies covered with a layer of salt

Day 2: Getting it all ready for canning

OK. Breakfast is over, the dishes are all cleaned up, and now it’s time to can the relish.

We’ll start by getting the water bath canner set up and ready to go.

Put your canner on the stove and put the jars you are going to use into it.

Because I use the 1/2 pints jars, the canner rack won’t work. So I use the rack from my pressure canner in the bottom.

If you don’t have one, just put an old towel flat across the bottom of the canner.

Fill all the jars with water all the way to the top.

Now fill the canner with enough water to reach the top of the jars.

This makes sure that there will be enough water in the canner for processing.

Go ahead and turn the heat on to high. It’s gonna take a while to come to a boil. When it does, turn it down to a simmer.

You need to also get your jar lids ready to go following your manufacture’s instructions. I usually toss the lids and rings into a small saucepan with water to cover and put it on the back burner.

When it comes to a boil I turn it down to low until I’m ready for them.

Alright. The canner is heating up, and the lids are going, so now it’s time to rinse the veggies.

Take a large strainer and fill it with the veggie mixture.

straining and rinsing chow chow veggies
rinsing chopped veggies over the sink

Just as an aside, make sure you’re at the sink when you do this next part. So you don’t get salty veggie juice all over the floor…just sayin

Hold the strainer under the faucet and rinse the salt off the veggies. Swish it around a little bit, then let it drain to get rid of all the excess liquid.

After you rinse a strainer full, and it’s stopped dripping, put the drained vegetables mixture in a large stainless steel pot.

The pot needs to be big enough for all of the veggies, the rest of the ingredients, and have room to bubble up a little as it heats.

Once everything is rinsed off and in the pot, add the spices and remaining ingredients.

adding the liquid and seasonings to the pot
adding the spices to the veggies in the pot

Now stir it up really well.

Over medium heat, bring the chow chow relish to a boil. Make sure you stir frequently so it doesn’t stick or scorch.

Once the relish is at a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 3 minutes. Then turn the heat off.

Canning the Sweet Chow Chow Relish

Carefully remove the canning jars from the canner with a jar lifter, pouring the water back into the canner.

Use a ladle to fill the hot jars with the hot relish leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.

Use a bubble popper or a thin knife to remove any air bubbles from the jars and top it off if needed to reach that 1/4 inch of headspace.

Using a clean cloth dipped in vinegar (vinegar cuts through the sugar), wipe the rims of the jars to make sure there is no residue.

Now put the flat lids on the jars and screw on the rings/bands. Only tighten the rings finger tight.

If the rings are too tight, the air won’t be able to escape, the lids will buckle, and the jars won’t seal. Which would be a terrible waste!

And now carefully out the filled jars back into the canner.

Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a full rolling boil.

When you have a good boil going, start your timer.

For this recipe, pints and half pints both need to process for 15 minutes.

Don’t forget to adjust the processing time for your altitude using this chart.

When the processing time is up, turn off the heat.

Remove the jars from the canner making sure you lift them straight up and out.

The jars haven’t sealed yet, so tilting them will make them leak and they may not seal.

OR you could leave the jars in the canner until they have cooled enough to seal, and them take them out. But that can take quite a while.

Either way, after you remove the jars put them on a cabinet or table covered with a double layer of towels to cool to room temperature.

Leave the jars undisturbed for a minimum of 12 hours. The jars will still be hot for a while, so make sure they aren’t in the way.

After 12 hours, check the seals.

Any unsealed jars should be put in the fridge. Sealed jars should be wiped down and labeled and dated.

Storing Chow Chow

The relish should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. In the right storage conditions, it will last for several years.

So now you have Grandma’s super secret Chow Chow Relish recipe. May all your deviled eggs taste divine! 

Blessings!

Frequently Asked Questions About Chow Chow

How long will canned chow chow last?

Canned goods stored in the proper conditions will last for several years. Experts suggest eating within 2 years for the best nutritional content.

What do you use chow chow for?

Chow chow can be used anywhere you would use a sweet pickle relish. At my house we use it mostly to put on hot dogs, in deviled eggs, and homemade Thousand Island Dressing. Other people put it on their hamburgers, in their pinto beans, or spread it on their cornbread.

More waterbath canning recipes you might like:

Old Fashioned Chow Chow Recipe

Chow Chow is a sweet relish made of cabbage, green tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. It's perfect for hot dogs, deviled eggs, and anywhere relish is required!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Brining Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 45 mins
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Servings 16 half pints
Calories 373 kcal

Equipment

  • Waterbath canner
  • 8 pint or 16 1/2 pint canning jars
  • New lids
  • rings/bands
  • jar lifter
  • lid lifter
  • bubble popper
  • canning funnel
  • old towels

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups of coarsely ground onions I start with 4 and see where I stand and add more as needed
  • 1 medium head of green cabbage coarsely ground (about 4 cups)
  • 10 green tomatoes coarsely ground (about 4 cups)
  • 12 green bell peppers coarsely ground
  • 6 red bell peppers coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon celery seed
  • 2 Tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 2 cups water

Instructions
 

Day 1: Prepping the Vegetables

  • Wash all veggies and grind with a course blade or finely chop and put in large stoneware or stainless steel bowl.
  • Mix well. Sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the top. Cover with a clean cloth and let site overnight.

Canning

  • Prepare jars, lids, and canner.
  • Rinse and drain veggie mixture in batches in a large wire mesh strainer and put in a large pot.
  • Once everything is rinsed off and in the pot, add the spices and remaining ingredients. Stir well.
  • Over medium heat, bring the chow chow relish to a boil. Stir frequently.
  • Once the relish is at a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 3 minutes. Then turn the heat off.
  • Use a ladle to fill the hot jars with the hot relish leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Use a bubble popper or a thin knife to remove any air bubbles from the jars and top it off if needed to reach that 1/4 inch of headspace.
  • Wipe jar rims with a clean cloth dipped in vinegar. Attach lids and rings and tighten finger tight.
  • Place jars in canner, turn heat to high, and bring water to full rolling boil.
  • For this recipe, pints and half pints both need to process for 15 minutes. ADJUST TIME FOR YOUR ALTITUDE.
  • After processing, remove jars from canner lifting them straight up and out. Place on layer of old towels to cool.
  • Leave the jars undisturbed for a minimum of 12 hours. After 12 hours, check the seals.
  • Any unsealed jars should be put in the fridge. Sealed jars should be wiped down and labeled and dated.

Notes

The relish should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. In the right storage conditions, it will last for several years.

Nutrition

Serving: 1half pintCalories: 373kcalCarbohydrates: 91gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 220mgPotassium: 540mgFiber: 5gSugar: 84gVitamin A: 953IUVitamin C: 120mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 2mg
Keyword chow chow relish, sweet relish
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on September 21st, 2022

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