you say green tomato: fermented chow chow

I’ve posted a bunch of green tomato recipes for canning in the past, but what if you can’t can?  You’ve come to the right place, you sexy tomato.  I’m going to post several of my favorite green tomato recipes just for you!  The first is a fermented relish called chow chow traditionally made to use up the leftovers of the garden harvest, a beautiful reminder of the passing of summer.

Fermented Chow Chow

This is a delicious fermented version of the southern condiment chow chow, usually sweetened and vinegared, then canned.  I like this fermented version, where the chopped vegetables are set out on a counter for a few days to sour.  It has a complementary combination of flavors that you can make your own by varying the amount of onion, the heat, and the sweet.  Don’t have time to ferment?  It’s delicious fresh, too.  Just substitute a whole grain mustard for the mustard seeds, eliminate the whey/water, and reduce the salt to a tablespoon or less.

Makes about quart and a half.

  • 2 lbs. green tomatoes
  • chunk of very fresh green cabbage
  • 1/2 lb. of a mix of all or some of the following: green peppers, yellow peppers, jalapenos (if you like heat), carrots or red pepper, cauliflower.
  • A few tablespoonsful of sweet white onion (e.g. Walla Walla)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whey from plain yogurt (the liquid on top) or juice from fresh sauerkraut or other fermented pickles to help along ferment
  • 2 tablespoons water

Chop up all of your green tomatoes into a fine dice.  This is a relish that’s all about texture, so I recommend some deft knife work instead of relying on the food processor.  But heck, if you are busy, do what you can.

Shred the cabbage finely, then chop into 1-inch pieces.  Dice your peppers and/or jalapenos, cauliflower, carrot, etc.  You’ll want to use a ratio of 1/3 green tomatoes, 1/3 green cabbage, and 1/3 other vegetables (plus a few tablespoonsful of minced onion).  Mix all into large bowl with green tomatoes and weigh.

Assess the situation.  Add more cabbage or green tomatoes to add weight, if necessary.  You’ll want 2.5 lbs. per 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt for a good ferment.

Add minced onion, spices, salt, and sugar.  Taste.  It should be a bit too salty, but make sure the onion, jalapeno heat, and sweetness are to your liking.  Add more if necessary.

Using your clean hands, crunch up the vegetables a bit so they start to release a liquid.  Add whey and water.

Pack firmly into two quart jars, dividing evenly.  Press down so the liquid covers the top as much as possible.  Cover jars with cheesecloth and set aside for 1-3 days on the counter, mixing and tasting daily.  When it is sour enough for your liking, refrigerate and eat with anything that needs a relish, like sausages, rice and beans, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna fish, etc.

Whew!  My green tomatoes are done for the year, but here are all my ideas for green tomatoes. Try:

3 thoughts on “you say green tomato: fermented chow chow

  1. hampiesandwiches (@hampiesandwich) 7 October 2012 / 7:01 pm

    I was just reading about chow chow (which I’d never heard of before) in the Joy of Pickling! Super interesting. Now I know what to make when I get stuck with green tomatoes.


  2. Garden Correspondent 8 October 2012 / 1:49 am

    I am on the verge of a serious green tomato situation, so this is a welcome idea, and fermented to boot! I can’t wait to try it.


  3. narf77 4 November 2012 / 11:03 am

    I have been late coming to the fermentation table although I did dabble with kefir a few years ago. I love the idea of being able to ferment at room temperature and read a post about Sandy’s devestation a few days ago where everyone was lamenting the spoiled fresh food but one lady fermented it all from her threatening to spoil milk right through to her vegetable crisper from kefir, kefir cheese, kimchi and saurkraut and I realised that there is a world of food preservation techniques out there that I am simply flying under the radar in oblivious ignorance. Cheers for another wonderful and enlightening post. I look forward to many more :)


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