An American relish of chopped green tomato, red pepper, mustard seed and a variety of other vegetables, chow chow has been around at least since the 19th century. Growing up, we ate plenty of a vinegary variety of chow-chow (or picalilli, as my mom liked to call it,) as a condiment with sandwiches and deviled eggs. But it was usually store bought. Coming across a 1940s community cookbook of “Old Time Tennessee Receipts” I was intrigued by the many entries of chow-chow and mustard pickle that brined the vegetables and then added a sauce thickened with mustard and flour paste. The resulting pickle flavor pin-balls happily around your tastebuds hitting sweet, salty, sour & spicy. And the texture is nice too–with crunch from the cauliflower and a more yielding bite from the tomato & pepper. I’m thinking what I don’t eat straight out of the jar, might go very nicely with some little hand-held savory pies….
Makes 12 pints
Chow Chow Pickle Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups salt
- 1 1/2 gallons water
- 1 very large cauliflower, broken up into small flowerettes (about 2 quarts)
- 2 qts small cucumbers, cut into small chunks
- 2 qts green tomatoes, cut into small chunks
- 1 qt small onions, sliced thin
- 6 red peppers, seeded and cut into small squares
Mustard Sauce Ingredients
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 Tbsp dry mustard (powder)
- 2 Tbsp turmeric
- 3 pints plus one & 1/2 cups cider vinegar, divided
- 3 lbs can sugar
- 1 ounce celery seed
- 1 ounce white mustard seed
- Make brine: In a very large container, stir salt into water to dissolve. Add all of the chopped vegetables. Weight the vegetables under the surface of the brine with a large plate. Let sit overnight.
- Drain salt water from vegetables into a large pot. Heat salt water to boiling. Place vegetables in a very large colander or sieve over sink. Pour boiling salt water over the vegetables to scald them.
- Make mustard sauce: Whisk flour, dry mustard powder and turmeric together. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups cider vinegar to make a smooth paste. Meanwhile, into the large pot over medium heat combine remaining 3 pints of vinegar with 3 lbs of sugar, the celery seed and white mustard seed. Add the mustard paste. Whisk over heat until thickened (about 1/2 hour) taking care not to scorch the sauce. Add all of the vegetables and heat until hot but not boiling.
- Assemble sterilized canning jars and lids. Ladle hot mustard pickles into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Place jars in boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes.