End of Summer Chow Chow

End of Summer Chow Chow

Thanks to incredible urban garden planning (thanks Love & Carrots!), fertile Virginia soil, daily care, and the right combination of sunshine and rain, my garden was spilling with fresh vegetables and herbs all summer. In fact, I hauled in a full bushel of vegetables just this weekend before pulling my summer plants to make way for winterization of the beds. In the last few weeks I have been canning and pickling like crazy to preserve the insane amount of tomatoes I’ve grown, as well as peppers, beans, cucumbers, and okra.

One of my favorite pickled salads is called Chow Chow, which features sweet-tart greens and tomatoes. My grandmother would make it with green cabbage, tomatoes, and peppers. It would sit up in the high cupboard next to her pickled pigs feet and whatever else she’d canned during the summer. Chow chow would be set out on the table whenever we had fried fish, or would dress potatoes or crabmeat. I’ve eaten is straight out of the jar with charcuterie, on hot dogs, and have even dressed poached shrimp with Chow Chow and fresh herbs for a Southern ceviche. I like to throw vegetables like kale and red onion, and have added healing spices like cinnamon and turmeric.

You can make Chow Chow and store in the fridge in a tightly covered container for up to two weeks, or go full pickle and keep it for up to a year. If you do choose to can, I’ll work in pointers on how to prepare throughout the recipe. A video guide to canning can be found here.

Makes a whole mess of Chow Chow


2 large yellow onions, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

5 fat garlic cloves, smashed and minced

4 cups green tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 large green peppers, seeded and chopped

2 large red peppers, seeded and chopped

1 cayenne pepper, split and seeded (but kept whole)

1 medium green cabbage, cored and chopped into small pieces

1 small bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

1 fresh bay leaf

1/3 cup coarse kosher salt

4 cups cane sugar

2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup white vinegar

Spice blend:

2 tbsp. mustard seeds

1 tsp. allspice

2 tsp. coriander seeds

2 tbsp. black peppercorns

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. turmeric

1 cinnamon stick, crushed

4 whole cloves

Zest of 1 small orange


  1. If canning, sterilize jars and lids.

  2. In a large, non-reactive bowl add the yellow and red onions, garlic, green tomatoes, green and red peppers, cayenne pepper, cabbage, kale, bay leaf, and kosher salt. Toss to combine, then cover with a clean dish cloth and set in a cool spot on the counter overnight.

  3. Dump all of the vegetables in a colander and let drain for 2-3 hours.

  4. Now put all of the vegetables in a large stock pot and add the sugar, vinegars, and spices. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook gently for 20 minutes and stir often.

  5. Ladle into clean jars. If preserving, make sure to leave 1/2 inch at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims, add the lids and bands, seal finger tight, and process in a hot water bath per the instructions here. If not preserving, Chow Chow will keep refrigerated for up to one week. If preserving, store jars in a cool, dark place (like a cupboard) for up to a year.

The finished product!