Step back in time to your grandmother's kitchen, we are making the vinegary and sweet relish known as chow chow. Notably eaten in places like Texas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and the Appalachian Mountains, chow chow is a regional dish that changes it's flavor depending where you are. In the North, chow chow is filled with a variety of vegetables like green tomatoes, carrots, beans, cauliflower and even peas. In the South, the main ingredients tend to be green cabbage, peppers, and a hint of spice.
The origin of the condiment is widely disputed since the recipe varies from region to region. Today we are focusing on the Texas variety with one minor change-you don't need to can it. While most chow chow recipes are made to be canned and preserved, this recipe is ready to go in about an hour, plus or minus some time for cooling.
How to Make Chow Chow
Put away your canning jar, this quick chow chow relish recipe is ready to eat as soon as it cools. While it's not totally your grandmother's recipe (no need to preserve it for months) it's reminiscent of those days you spend in the kitchen with her.
First things first, we have to prep all of our ingredients. For this recipe is particular we are using bell peppers, cabbage, onion, green tomatoes and a jalapeño. For the bell peppers we didn't specify a color. Instead use what you have in your kitchen whether it be red bell peppers or green bell peppers. we had an orange bell pepper and a red bell pepper in our fridge when we whipped up this batch of chow chow.
Once the ingredients are prepped, sprinkle them with about a tablespoon of kosher salt and stir. The salt will bring some of the liquid out of the ingredients while sitting overnight in a large bowl in the fridge. In the morning pour the mixture into a colander and drain the liquid. You'll be surprised how much liquid is drained off.
Meanwhile, it's time to start toasting up the mustard and celery seeds. Toasting the seeds brings out their natural nutty flavors and add a nice depth of flavor. It's also fun because one heated the mustard seeds tend to dance and pop when they are toasted.
All toasted and ready, add in the water, sugar and apple cider vinegar. We are just dissolving the sugar, so this step takes only a few minutes. Once dissolved, add in the drained vegetables along with crushed red pepper flakes, ground dry mustard, ginger and turmeric.
Let's Get Cooking
Bring the mixture up to a boil then reduce the heat down to simmer low and slow for about an hour. We are looking for a pretty thick relish with most of the liquid cooked out. Once the relish is thickened, it's time to cool it down in the fridge.
Serve this chow chow relish on hot dogs, on a pork sandwich or even on a big bowl of pinto beans. There's no limit on the endless food options you can combine with this perfect topping.
Updated February 7, 2019: Chow chow will keep for up to month in the refrigerator in a sealed container. If stored in a freezer-safe, sealed container, it should keep for up to three months. After thawing, chow chow is best used within the first two weeks, but many folks have found it to be safe up through one month.