How to make Southern chow-chow - made easy, and illustrated!

This month's notes: July 2014: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries tomatoes, corn and most vegetables are being picked in most places; strawberries are finishing or done; Peaches are in and early apples will start in late July. Find a local blueberry festival and blueberry picking tips here. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam! Make your own homemade strawberry ice cream including low fat, low sugar and other flavors))  Have fun, eat healthier and better tasting, and save money by picking your own locally grown fruit and vegetables, and then using our easy canning and freezing directions!

Organic farms are identified in green!  See our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals!. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!

Bookmark and Share Subscribe to our: Email alerts Follow us on Twitter  Add this page to your favorites! - Email this page to a friend, or to yourself


Making Homemade Southern Chow-Chow
(also called Piccalilli)

Click here for a PDF print version

Making and canning your own Southern chow-chow is one of the easiest things you can do with your extra vegetables! Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated.  This method is so easy, ANYONE can do this!  It's a great thing to do with your kids!

Note: More photos are coming

Ingredients

Yield: About 9 half-pints (8 oz each)

  • 8 to 10 large green tomatoes to make 6 cups chopped green tomatoes
  • 4 or 5 sweet red peppers (you can also use yellow and orange peppers for added color) to make 1-1/2 cups chopped.
  • 3 large green bell peppers to make 1-1/2 cups chopped
  • About 3 lbs of sweet onions to make 2-1/4 cups of chopped onions
  • 1 large head or 2 medium heads of cabbage to make 7-1/2 cups of chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup canning or pickling salt (most Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger and Safeway and local "big box" stores carry this)
  • 3 tbsp whole mixed pickling spice (most Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger and Safeway and local "big box" stores carry this, ask for "pickling spice")
  • 4-1/2 cups white vinegar (5%); apple cider vinegar also works well.  Store brand is about $1.25 for a 64 oz bottle.
  • 3 cups brown sugar (if you are on a sugar restricted diet, substitute Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda))

Equipment

  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) 
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • 1 large pots; teflon lined, glass or ceramic (metal often reacts with the vinegar).
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • 1 Water Bath Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.).  Note: we sell many sizes and types of canners for all types of stoves and needs - see canning supplies
  • Half pint or pint canning jars (Ball or Kerr jars can be found at grocery stores, like Safeway, Publix, Kroger, grocery stores, even online - about $8 per dozen jars including the lids and rings).   
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.  They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars.  They may be reused many times.

Directions - How to Make Southern Chow-Chow, also called Piccalilli

DAY 1

Note the 12 hour soaking: you can either start in the morning and finish in the evening, or start at night and complete it the next morning.

Step 1 - Select and wash the vegetables

Choose fresh, firm vegetables without soft spots or blemishes. Wash the veggies under cool water and drain.

Step 2 - chop the veggies

You'll need to make:

  • 6 cups chopped green tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped sweet red peppers (you can also use yellow and orange peppers for added color)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped green peppers
  • 2-1/4 cups chopped onions
  • 7-1/2 cups chopped cabbage

You can chop the vegetables as fine or as coarse as you like - I like 1/8 inch to ΒΌ-inches pieces, which my food processor does very well!

Step 3 - Mix the vegetables with the salt

Mix the vegetables in a large pot with 1/2 cup of canning or pickling salt, then pour enough hot (from the facet or tap hot, not boiling) to cover the vegetables.  Now, let it stand 12 hours (countertop, out of direct sunshine is fine).

DAY 2 (well, 12 hours later)

Step 4 - Get the jars and lids sanitizing

The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle.  I get that going while I'm preparing everything else, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars.  If you don't have a dishwasher, submerge the jars in a large pot (the canner itself) of water and bring it to a boil.

Be sure to let it go through the rinse cycle to get rid of any soap!

Get the canner heating up

Fill the canner about 1/2 full of water and start it heating (with the lid on).

 

Start the water for the lids

Put the lids into the small pot of boiling water for at least several minutes.  Note: everything gets sanitized in the water bath (step 7) anyway, so this just helps to ensure there is no spoilage later!)


Need lids, rings and replacement jars? 

Get them all here, delivered direct to your home,  at the best prices on the internet! 

 

Step 5 -Drain and dry the vegetables!

Drain and press the vegetables in a clean white cloth (cheesecloth, a clean pillow case even works, paper towels will do) to remove all possible liquid..

Step 6 - Add spices (in a bag), sugar and vinegar

Tie the 3 tablespoons of whole mixed pickling spice loosely in a spice bag and add it to a large pot with the:

  • 4-1/2 cups white vinegar (5%); apple cider vinegar also works well. 
  • 3 cups brown sugar (if you are on a sugar restricted diet, substitute Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda))

If you don't have cheesecloth or a spice bag, a piece of thin clean cotton, like an old tie shirt, works fine.

Here's a great trick for the spices: get a baby food holder like this one, available at Target and any baby supplies store.  It is made of plastic, and can hold the spices for easy removal later.  It's reusable and has no metal, so it won't react with the vinegar!

 

Step 7 - Heat to a boil in a sauce pan.

Just heat the mix from step 6 to a boil in a sauce pan.  Add the vegetables the liquid and return to a boil.

Step 8 - Remove the spice bag and fill your jars

Remove spice bag. Fill hot sterile jars with the hot mixture, to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the top, seat the lid and hand-tighten the ring around them.  (Note: larger jars are not recommended.)

Step 9 - Boil the jars in the canner

Put them in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water. Keep the water boiling. Boil them for 5 minutes (or as directed by the instructions in the pickle mix, or with your canner).  Remember to adjust for altitudes and larger jars! 

 

Recommended process time for pint or half-pint jars of
Southern Chow-Chow in a boiling-water canner

Process Time at Altitudes of
0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
5 min 10 min 15 min

 

Step 10 - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)  You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

When can you start eating the relish?  As son as the jars cool! 

How long will they keep in cool, dark storage?  Usually 12 to 18 months!


For safety, this recipe is closely follows the recipe on page 6-13 of the USDA's Guide, "Complete Guide to Home Canning".

 

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs 
            to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter 
            - to remove lids from the pot 
            of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid 
           - disposable - you may only 
           use them once
  4. Ring 
          - holds the lids on the jar until after
          the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
          - to fill the jars

 

   

Summary - Cost of Making Homemade chow-chow - makes 8 pint jars, 16 oz each*

Item Quantity Cost in 2006 Source Subtotal
Vegetables see ingredients free from the garden, or $3.00 cents at a PYO Pick your own $5.00
Canning jars (pint size, wide mouth), includes lids and rings 12 jars $8.00/dozen Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) and online here $5.35
Vinegar 6 cups $1.20  Safeway,
Publix, Kroger, grocery stores
$1.20
Spices 4 teaspoons each $3.00 per package Grocery stores (Publix, Kroger, Safeway, etc.) $3.00
Onion 2 $0.50 each Safeway,
Publix, Kroger, grocery stores
$1.00
Pickling Salt 3/4 cup $3.00 per 3 cup box Safeway,
Publix, Kroger, grocery stores
$0.80
Total $16.35 total
 or about  $2 per jar INCLUDING the jars - which you can reuse!

* - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars!  Many products are sold in jars that will take the lids and rings for canning.  For example, Classico Spaghetti sauce is in quart sized jars that work with Ball and Kerr lids and rings. Note that the Classico's manufacturer does not recommend reuse of their jars: see what they have to say on this page:

How to make other pickles -  recipes and instructions:


This page was updated on

Picking Tips

[General picking tips and a guide to each fruit and vegetable] [How much do I need to pick? (Yields - how much raw makes how much cooked or frozen)] [Selecting the right varieties to pick] [All about apple varieties - which to pick and why!]  [Picking tips for Vegetables] [ Strawberry picking tips] [ Blueberries picking tips]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

All About Home Canning, Freezing and Making Jams, Pickles, Sauces, etc. ] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]

Home Canning Kits

Features:

Ball Enamel Waterbath Canner, Including Chrome-Plated Rack and 4-Piece Utensil Set

* All the tools you need for hot waterbath canning - in one comprehensive set!
* Complete with 21 1/2 qt. enameled waterbath canner
* Also includes canning rack, funnel, jar lifter, jar wrencher, bubble freer, tongs and lid lifter.
* A Kitchen Krafts exclusive collection.

This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also a simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if you want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
Don't forget the Ball Blue Book!

Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.

Need lids, rings and replacement jars?  Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes?  Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!

Get them all here at the best prices on the internet!