Southerners have long been slipping spoonfuls of chowchow onto the sides of their plates for dipping into between bites of roasted meats, livening up white beans with cornbread, or scattering over eggs for a vinegary boost.
But at its heart, chowchow is a make-do relish pulled together by raking through what’s left of the garden; it’s traditionally made just with vegetables on hand. The recipe here includes a few classic ingredients such as cabbage, peppers, green tomato, onion, and spices including turmeric and mustard seed. But like most things born of making do, chowchow’s uncertain roots leave lots of leeway for creativity and just enough tradition to keep it real.
- Yield: 8 (1 pint 250-ml) jars
- ½ large head cabbage, finely shredded
- 4 green bell peppers, chopped into very small dice
- 4 red bell peppers, chopped into very small dice
- 4 yellow onions, finely chopped
- 6 green tomatoes, chopped
- ⅓ cup (80 g) kosher salt
- 2 cups (290 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
- 2 cups (480 ml) cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the cabbage with the other chopped vegetables bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
- In a large pot, mix the salt, sugar, and vinegar and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the celery seeds, dry mustard, mustard seeds, turmeric, ginger, and crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Then add the vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.
- With a large spoon, pack the vegetable mixture, along with its cooking liquid, into the warm, sterile jars. With a clean, dry dishtowel, wipe the mouth of each jar. Place a lid on each jar and tighten the ring. Place the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and set them aside; listen for the lids to ping, indicating that the jars have sealed. Serve the chowchow chilled or at room temperature.