Green Tomato Salsa (Chow Chow)

One day after Halloween and the Christmas commercials have started. I really hate to see winter come. I like the cooler weather, the colorful leaves, (my husband going deer hunting) and even snow for the Christmas season, but after that, the months  leading up to Spring are just wasted time to me. I hate to see the growing season come to an end too. I don’t plant that many vegetables, but each year I plant tomatoes and green and jalapeno peppers. I can’t think of any vegetable I like better picked right from the vine than a tomato; any kind of tomato; Beefsteak, Roma, Grape, any kind, red and juicy. I rarely buy a tomato in the store during the winter. I find them tasteless, not to mention expensive. This year as last, when the first frost hit the area, I had an abundance of green tomatoes. I’ve gotten to the point where I hate to see anything go to waste so my husband picked all the tomatoes and I added store bought peppers and onions to make a green tomato relish, or Chow Chow.

Green tomatoes, red and green peppers

Chow Chow is one of those names that no one seems to have a concensus as to where it came from. Some believe the name “Chow Chow” comes from the Indian (as in India) word “chayote”. Others believe it is French “chou” meaning cabbage and still others believe it is either Chinese or the Hindu word “achar” for pickle.

“… Kevin West, the author of Saving the Season, explains that chow-chow is a relish traditionally made from end-of-season produce.

I call it a catchall relish because, although somebody might tell you that your grandmother made the one and only ‘right’ kind of chow-chow there is, in fact, there is no such thing as an objective standard,” West said. “You basically take whatever’s in the garden right before the last frost, and you grind it up.”

Then salt, vinegar, and spices like mustard seed, mustard powder, celery seed are added for flavor. The concoction is then sealed up in a jar and left to age.” (

12 – large green Tomatoes, cored (about 20 small to med size)
3 – green bell peppers, seeded
1 extra large yellow onions
2 – red bell pepper, seeded
1 – tablespoon + 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 – tablespoons celery flakes
2 – cups apple cider vinegar
2 – cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Chop the tomatoes, peppers and onion. I use a wonderful invention called a “Vidalia Chop Wizard”. This neat little tool makes quick work of chopping. It took longer to core the tomatoes than it did to chop all the veggies combined. What a treat this gadget is. It is well worth it’s $20 price tag and gives you two different sizes to chop depending on whether you like your salsa chunky or not.

Vidalia Chop Wizard

Put the chopped vegetables in a large pot, add the mustard and celery, vinegar, kosher salt and sugar.


Adding vinegar to the vegetables in the pot

Stir well and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook stirring often and skimming as needed.

Simmer until the relish/chow chow cooks down and thickens into a relish, about 2 hrs.

I canned my relish using a hot water bath. It yielded six pints and two half pint jars. Unfortunately, I only had four new pint sealing lids, so two of the pints had to go in my refrigerator for use now.

Jars of canned green tomato relish

Recipe adapted from



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s