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Chow Chow

Nellie's Chow Chow recipe

There are a lot of recipes in my great- great- grandmother Nellie's journals that intimidate me. I'm not easily intimidated but when it comes to very large canning and preserving recipes I fear that I'll spend a lot of time and resources on the recipe and have a huge fail. Kind of like the Nailed It television show. I don't want to fail it. I want to nail it! (Can you tell that I'm not competitive at all?)

So as I procrastinate preparing the dozens of Nellie's jam, jelly, and pickle recipes, I'll muster up the guts and courage to make this semi-pickled recipe called Chow Chow. This article from The Daily Meal claims Chow Chow is the best recipe you're not eating. "Chow chow (no, not the dog) is part slaw, part pickled relish, part condiment, part side dish. It’s tangy, sweet, a little spicy, crunchy, and it pairs well with just about any savory food," states the article.

I can confirm that yes, Chow Chow is the best recipe you're probably not eating. It's kind of like a salsa that married a relish. I'm down with that. I think you will be, too.

My 1/4 of Nellie's recipe
This is my chicken scratch trying to cut down Nellie's recipe. Did I mention Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers?

In Nellie's recipe I had to cut the ingredients by a 1/4. Why? Otherwise we'd be preparing 13 pounds of tomatoes and I don't have the shelf space to handle all that Chow Chow. At least at the present time...

I've put an * by the items I can purchase at my Illinois farmers market.


  • 9 medium sized green tomatoes, chopped*

  • 1/2 head cabbage, chopped*

  • 1 red pepper, chopped*

  • 1 1/2 onion, chopped*

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar

  • 2 cups vinegar diluted with 1/2 cup water

  • 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger


  • Combine the tomatoes, cabbage, red pepper, onion, and salt in a container. Mix together very well and let it sit overnight.

  • The next day, transfer mixture to a large pot and cook for exactly 15 minutes. Drain any liquid.

  • To the mixture add the sugar, diluted vinegar and spices. Combine everything and cook for 15 additional minutes.

  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  • Store in the fridge in an air-tight container. Keeps for about a week. Or, can the Chow Chow and enjoy these farm-fresh veggies all-year long. Here is a Canning 101 lesson to check out.

Serving size: Chow Chow for days!

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