Chow Chow Time

My Aunt Virginia was multi-talented. She styled hair, could knit, crochet, sew, do minor repairs and construction. She was also a phenomenal cook. Everything she made, tasted good. Each summer she would pickle green tomatoes, green beans, okra, and cucumbers and make preserves out of watermelon rinds. She was especially known for her brandied peaches and my favorite, Chow Chow. This scrumptious relish of veggies is typically served with collards or other greens. When she gave me a jar, I would only use a little bit at a time because I wanted it to last. Aunt Virginia canned up until a few months before her passing in 1983. Believe it or not, I still have a can of her pickled green beans, because I just didn’t want to discard them. Funny how we hold onto things, in order to hold on to people.

Fortunately, she shared her canning recipes with me. I put them in a safe place and then couldn’t find them. At one point, I had typed them into my computer, but then the computer crashed and you know how that goes. Well, a few months ago, after my morning meditation, I was looking for something else in a folder and noticed a fading envelope. There were my Aunt Virginia’s pickling recipes in her own handwriting. The joy that filled my heart is indescribable.   The recipes are now typed, saved in several places and more importantly, I’ve made my first batch of her beloved Chow Chow. Now, that I am actually using the recipes, I think I can part with the jar of beans now.   I think she will be pleased. I know I am.

Chow Chow Time
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 16 medium green tomatoes
  • 3 sweet red peppers
  • 3 green peppers
  • 3 large onions
  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 medium head cabbage (2lbs)
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP whole mixed pickling spices
  1. Sprinkle salt over vegetables, mix well and let stand over night. The next day, drain, pressing out all excess moisture. Combine vinegar and sugar in a kettle and add spices tied in 2 cheese cloths and bring mixture to a boil. Add drained vegetables and bring to a boil again. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until most of liquid has evaporated. Remove spice bag and spoon into hot sterilized jars.
*Note- I cut the green tomatoes in wedges, chopped the peppers and onions, used sea salt and added one deveined, diced jalapeno pepper because I wanted a spicy version.


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