Recipes Vegetarians

Green Tomato Chow-Chow

What on earth do you do with a bunch of green tomatoes at the end of the growing season?  A hard frost is coming and your vines still have a ton of unripened fruit. It seems a waste just to let all that potential food be useless after it freezes.  So,what do you do?

You make chow-chow of course.

Now there are lots of things you can do with those hard, green things that don’t have a single hope of ripening and really can’t even be classified as tomatoes in my book.  Most folks instantly think of fried green tomatoes. But I’m not crazy about fried green tomatoes.  So that is NOT a good answer to the question in my house.  Maybe if I’d grown up eating them, I might feel differently. But they are just not my favorite.

Enter stage right: Green tomato chow-chow

When I was in high school, my Aunt Ruth invited me over one Saturday afternoon in October to help her make chow-chow. She had given us a pint a week or so earlier and I absolutely loved the the stuff.  It had a wonderfully sweet, yet spicy taste and was perfect on sandwiches.  Since I devoured it so quickly, she asked me to help her with the next batch.

Aunt Ruth used a recipe that had been handed down in her husband’s family from one Aunt Ada.  She had a lot of green tomatoes that year and decided to dig out the recipe so all the “green things” wouldn’t go to waste.  I guess green tomatoes classify as food. But they do need a little help.

She had one of those old fashioned, cast aluminum food grinders that you clamp on the edge of a counter and has a hand crank.  We washed and cut up all the tomatoes, onions, and peppers then put them through that high-tech food processor of the day.  We boiled the sugar, spices and vinegar and then added the ground up mush.

Disclaimer: You’ll also notice there is no hot water processing time. You just put the hot chow-chow into the hot, sterilized jars. I have spoken to a modern canning expert who has told me that the reason this works is because of the high acidic content of the tomatoes. But this is not always true with some of the sweeter varieties.  And you can’t can this way with other vegetables. In all the years I have made chow-chow in the manner described below, I have never had a problem. But that is not a guarantee for you.  I highly recommend you always follow the USDA approved guidelines for canning and the specific instructions for a given recipe.

Notice the color before it comes to a boil!

If you decide to give this recipe a try, let me know how it comes out.

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