Green Tomato Chow-Chow

This is my Dad’s Green Tomato Chow-Chow recipe. I think it originates from Nova Scotia, Canada as it is also known as “Nana’s Chow-Chow. It is made only with green tomatoes and onions, vinegar and spices. All my life, I’ve eaten precious rationed portions of this delicious mixture and called it Dad’s Green Tomato Chow-Chow.

I’m here to tell you this is really good stuff.

There are many recipes for chow-chow out there, Southern recipes call for everything left in the garden that is harvested just before the first frost: cabbage, peppers, onions, cucumbers. This one is different. And, it gets better as it ages.

Wash the tomatoes, and there is no peeling or seeding required!

Green Tomato Chow-Chow

Chow Chow PicIngredients:

8 cups chopped green tomatoes

4-6 medium sweet onions, sliced

1/2 cup kosher salt

(use non-iodized salt)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 teaspoon turmeric

(If using fresh turmeric, shred about 1 inch of a knob)

Grating fresh turmeric

Grating fresh turmeric

2 Tablespoons Pickling Spice in a bag (I used a tea ball)

Wash and slice the tomatoes and onions.

in a large bowl, sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes and onions; set a plate on top, cover and let this sit overnight. In the morning, rinse the tomatoes and onions to remove the salt. Strain, place into a large pot with the vinegar, sugar, turmeric and pickling spice.

Simmer the tomatoes and onions with pickling spices

Simmer the tomatoes and onions with pickling spices

Green Tomato Chow-chow

Bring to a boil, reduce to an active simmer and then let this simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

The entire mixture will cook down to a lovely sweet, tangy concoction with a jam like consistency. This is so good on grilled meats, as a glaze for ham or chicken or as a condiment with cheese.

One of our favorite ways to have it is with beans and cornbread. It makes the meal.

Chow-chow with grilled chicken leg quarters

Chow-chow with grilled chicken leg quarters

This is what it looks like when finished

This is what it looks like when finished

My Dad says this is a real treat because it is only made with the green tomatoes picked just before the first freeze. He says he can’t pick a tomato when it can turn red on the vine. He loves his tomatoes! I know he spoiled me from store-bought tomatoes. Every year, I always grow a plant or two. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. It’s a tradition to grow tomatoes every year.

I’ve encouraged mom to make him a Green Tomato Pie because he has been fascinated with making pies that taste like apple but not using apples. In the past he’s used zucchini and Ritz crackers (separate pies), so I hope he can add green tomato soon.

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

When I asked mom to make him a pie, he quickly said there weren’t enough greens left and frankly he’d rather have chow-chow.

I’ll have to wrap and send him a bottle to see how he likes it.

#greentomatochowchow #chowchow #southerncooking #pickling #dadsrecipe #southernfoods #passeddownrecipes #recipesfromhome

Jar of Green Tomato Chow-Chow

Jar of Green Tomato Chow-Chow



80 thoughts on “Green Tomato Chow-Chow

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  3. I’m from Nova Scotia Canada. Glad I stumbled across this recipe. I shall e making this for sure. Just waiting for a few more tomatoes. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. My husband is from PEI and we use to be sent home with jars of ‘chow’ and i was not so sure i liked it but I had some green tomatoes this fall, found your recipe and made a batch and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!. I brought it to a pot luck and now passing your recipe on.. I like the simple ingredients. My husbands family puts other veggies in it but this simpler one is much better. i did cut down on the sugar a bit and still great. Thanks for sharing and love your blog – it is beautiful too.

  5. If some of the tomatoes in the garden are starting to turn a little red, can you use these with the green ones to make chow

  6. New Brunswick,Canada here and just finished the chopping process and in the morning will cook and bottle…Thank-you for sharing 🙂

  7. I’m in the process of making it now. It looks and sounds like my mom’s recipe. That’s what I was looking for. Thank you very much! I’ll let you know how it turns out. : )

  8. How much does this recipe yield? This is the same recipe I always made but lost it along the way. I can taste it now. Thanks for posting.

  9. Mmmm…I love chow – chow. I’m from Nova Scotia and now live far from there. But there are some dishes that cry out for chow to accompany them: any fried fish – especially mackerel and trout – and my favourite, salt cod fishcakes.

    • Yes, I make fishcakes and love chow chow with them,,, they include it with the fishcakes at the Micmac grill too, I am waiting for a few more green tomatoes from the garden to start, but am getting impatient so may buy some to add to mine! Cheers Bob

      • Hi Bob! My Dad wouldn’t let us pick the tomatoes when they had the opportunity to ripen. He loved his vine ripened tomatoes! Before it froze, it was a rescue mission for all remaining greens on the vine. I really look forward to October so I can simmer this glorious concoction. Enjoy those fish cakes!

  10. On this green tomato and onion relish can you store it on a shelf or do you have to refrigerate it? Looks very good can’t wait to try it. What kind of pot can I use to cook it down in?

    • If you want to store it in your pantry, you will need to can it. I store mine in the fridge and unfortunately, it is gone before I know it. Use a stainless steel pot to cook it down, stainless is the best to cook with. My mom would say cast iron, which you can use too as long as it is well seasoned.
      This is my favorite condiment! I hope you enjoy making it and eating it as much as our family does.
      Check out my other post for Green Tomato Pie! (“Pied” Green Tomatoes – Amazing, it will blow your mind!)

      • I have made chow in the past but upon Googling videos some folks actually boil the filled jars afterwards for 15-20 minutes. I have not done this before – not sure why they would if the jar and lids are sanitized and the mixture is hot. Do you recommend boiling afterward? Also, what about for beets and mustard pickles – boil jars afterward?

      • Hi Trish,
        If you want to store the filled jars in your pantry you will need to boil the filled jars in a canning process to keep it safe in long term storage. If you don’t keep them in the fridge so they don’t spoil on you. Mustard Pickles, pickled beets and pickled cauliflower are the same.

  11. This is the same way I make my chow. I am from Prince Edward Island and it is usually served with fish over here on the Island.

    • My grandma, aunts and uncles used to sit around the table and talk about PEI and Newfoundland when we visited them in Glace Bay. Lots of great food was made, lobsters by the carload, making chow chow and Mustard Pickles. We love these flavors!

      • I never boil my pickles or chow or beets after bottling . Have my bottles hot and the lids hot and put the hot pickles in and lids on tight. Did it this way for years and so did my mom. Store in my cold room. Vinegar is the preserveative

  12. Thank you Pamela for sharing, I have been looking for this recipe as our Mom could not find hers as we recently moved her and many on her old time favorites seems to have gone missing and it was one of our all time favorite. Here in New Brunswick we have a lot of green tomatoes that are refusing to ripen before the winter, so we are scrambling on what to do and this is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again…it sure brings back found memories of when I was young.

  13. Hey I loved this! I’m from Quebec and grew-up with both the red and the green version but always store bought made by Habitant and so delicious. I hope i have enough green tomatoes, thanks so much for the recipe.

      • I’m making it right now, a triple batch! I used apple cider vinegar. Oh my goodness one spoonful took me back to my childhood. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. When you say beans and corn bread I assume you mean baked beans? I’m vegetarian and so that would be fun to do – plus vegetable pot pie and a veggie version of tourtière…so much yumminess for the long cold months. (p.s. slicing that many onions nearly did me in, next year I use the food processor)

      • You’ll be so glad you made a triple batch this winter! Baked beans would be nice but down South, we boil pinto beans with spices until tender and the liquid thickens from the bean starches. Cooked in a crockpot for a long time, these beans, spooned over cornbread will warm the cockles of your heart.
        I like to make blue cornbread with yellow and white kernels in it; it’s so colorful! And you got to have a dollop of green tomato chow-chow along with it.

  14. I love apple cider vinegar much more then white. How would it work to use that? I also have leftover jalapeños from my garden and tempted to add them into the batch while cooking tomorrow. I’m tripling this recipe and have a big pot of green tomatoes and onions, sitting in salt getting ready. 🙂

  15. Just found your chow chow recipe last night so made a quick trip to the store for spices and out to the garden for several pounds of hard little green tomatoes. This morning I started my first ever batch of chow chow! Being a night person I will finish and cook this evening. Hoping it is good enough to share with family. Thank you for the easy to follow recipe!

  16. My triple batch of chow chow is done! I was going to change out the vinegar and add jalapeños but I ended up following the recipe. I figured, if it’s that good, why mess with perfect right? Because if the large amount, I made 3 separate satches of spices to make sure they spread their goodness. I was worried because of the large amount and it needing extra time to cook. I ended up cooking it 15 minutes more and that was only because my jars weren’t completely ready. I got 11.5 pints out of it. I canned it the way I canned my zucchini relish. I simply boiled my jars and heated up my lids, filled them while trying not to burn myself, and let them seal on my counter as they cooled. I know it’s frowned on but it works! My zucchini relish has remained sealed for 2+ years and so I figured it would be fine with this. I tasted my .5 jar in the fridge and it’s really yummy. Milder then chutney. (Someone compared the two and they are completely different in my opinion.) It thickened up nicely and it isn’t runny at all. I can see a lot of uses for this. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  17. Having been born DOWN HOME in New Brunswick,growing up eating and making pickles galore!
    and reading all of the comments make me hungry for my mothers mustard pickles.I lived out west
    for 2 1/2 yrs.I took it upon myself to make 214 Jars of pickles of all kinds.Once you have eaten proper homemade pickles,you will not buy them in any store again!

    • Not really but it will last until next canning season in your refrigerator. I find, no matter how much we make, it’s always gone by summer.
      Can it in a water bath for 15 minutes to make it shelf stable or simply keep your jars in the fridge.

  18. Hi, I am new to green tomatoes and stumbled on your site via google. I was originally looking for a canning recipe, but I have a glass cook top and just found out that they can’t be used for canning. So, I was thinking of freezing it, but I’m a bit confused by your comment, “it will last until next canning season in the refrigerator”. How long can I keep it in the refrigerator?

    • It will last a year in the fridge! One trick I learned is to fill the jars with the hot chow-chow, put the lid on and turn it upside down until it is cool. When you turn it upside right, the lid will be secure and should last as long as it’s kept cold. Open the jars one at a time as you use them through the year.
      I think it gets better with age!

  19. Finally, the real chow chow recipe! Yes, it is a Nova Scotian favorite and nothing compares to homemade chow with fishcakes, fried fish and especially with Rappie Pie!!! Thank you so much for sharing especially with the exact measurements. When I asked anyone in my family for the recipe, they will tell me to get a pail of tomatoes and a couple of onions and some pickling spies…….I can’t wait to try your father’s chow.

  20. Hi there. I just chopped the tomatoes and onions and tomorrow morning I will start the cooking process. My gram made the best chow ever and I have had a craving for years. I decided this is the year I try to make my own. I called around and nobody in the family had her recipe. I watched her many a times make hers and only knew the recipe was simply and I remembered it simmering for a long time. When I found this recipe I was very excited. I’m sure it very close to hers. I will give an update once I have finished. Thank you so much for the recipe and instructions. Fingers crossed and taste buds ready. 🙂

  21. I’m so glad I found your recipe a couple of years ago. My family is from PEI and I have lots of memories of this on the table. I made 3 batches then and everyone loved it! Made a single batch today and going to do more on the weekend. My upstairs neighbour sent a text asking what I was making that smelled so great. I guess I should give her a jar? Thanks for sharing!

  22. Good evening, I was wondering if you use regular vinegar or pickling vinegar. I am making these tomorrow. The recipe is just as I remember when I was a little girl.

  23. Love Chow Chow and recipe looks terrific. How many tablespoons of pickling spice do i use? The number doesn’t show for me.

  24. Thanks for the recipe! We have made a batch to try. I was given a huge box of green cherry tomatoes and have been making recipes and recipes! I’ve never had chow chow before and your story about your dad made me think of my dad. I lost him 2 years ago now. So we thought we’d give it a go.

  25. I noticed people asking if you can freeze the chow chow. I have had no issue freezing it. I have frozen my last 2 years batches.

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    • Hi Patty, this is great canned. I will usually can half and and keep the other half in the fridge for us to use.
      If it isn’t canned, you will need to keep it in the fridge where it will last a while. I didn’t include canning instructions because it is easy to find how to can online besides, I am not a canning expert so I wouldn’t want to give improper procedures. I hope you make it and enjoy!

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