Sunday, July 18, 2010

Let's Chow Chow

When I was growing up, I remember my family members making Chow Chow, a kind of spicy green tomato relish, sometimes too spicy for me. As an adult, I love spicy food, but I haven't had Chow Chow in a long time. After seeing a recipe for it in our local paper recently, I now have a taste for it. There are a couple of pre-made offerings at my grocer's, but my farmer's market has lots of beautiful green tomatoes and onions, and Andrew and Mimi have a garden with peppers starting to make, so what's a girl to do? Chow Chow at home, I say.

The recipe below is the one I used. It's very similiar to the one from the newspaper, but it's also very similar to Emeril Lagasse's Green Tomato Chow Chow.

Makes about 16 half-pints

12 green tomatoes, cored and quartered
3 medium green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
3 medium red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
3 medium yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup fresh jalapeƱos, stemmed and chopped
2 cups water
2 cups cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt

1. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the tomatoes 10 times (Do this in batches if necessary). Pour the tomatoes into a large nonreactive saucepan (stainless or enameled steel).

2. Add the peppers, onions and jalapeƱos to the processor and pulse the vegetables about 10 times. Add the mixture to the tomatoes. Stir in the vinegar, water, sugar and salt.

3. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and spoon into ½-pint preserving jars, filling the mixture to within ½-inch of the top. With a clean damp towel, wipe the rim and fit with a hot lid. Tightly screw on the metal ring. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

5. Using tongs, remove the jars and place on a towel to cool. Test the seals. Tighten the rings. Store in a cool dark place. Age for two weeks before using.

12 (mostly) green tomatoes. I bought them intending to make it right away, but had to wait few days. Oops!

Red, yellow, and green peppers, some from the grocer's, some from the farmer's market, and some from Andrew and Mimi's garden. The last ones, of course, were the tastiest.

3 medium onions.

2 jalapenos. The recipe called for 1 cup chopped, but I went with just 2 peppers. Once chopped, they equalled about 1/2 to 3/4 cup.

2 cups cider vinegar, 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons salt.
The chopping took a bit, but once I got started, I fell into a rhythm and it went smoothly. I forgot to photograph everything post chop, but it was a lot.
I used a 6-quart stock pot and it was rather full, as you can see.

I don't have a canning set up, so I used another stock pot I have on hand. The bubbling of the water under the jars is loud and a annoying at first, but after the first batch I didn't notice it as much. When David and Andrew returned from errands, they definitely notcied amd it bugged them enormously. I think I'll pick up a rack for the next canning go round.

Awww. Last step. Removed from the pot, set on a towel to cool and seal. Nothing sweeter than the sound of the little "pop" you hear as the seals take after all the tie and energy spent trying to do each step just right. And yes, there are a lot more jars. This is the first batch.

As an aside, since I do not have a lot of canning equipment I needed a way to remove the jars safely out of the boiling water. The cheapest, neatest and least painful way I've found is picutred above. Note the purple ruber bands on the tongs. They came from some asapargus bunches from past dinners. I tend to rinse those and toss them in a drawer for later purposes. This is one of those purposes! Just wrap one around the end of each tong, and voila, grips. I also used my oven mitt that has silicone grips on the fingers to grab the jar after I pulled it out with the tongs.

The toughest part of this whole thing is waiting two whole weeks to test it out! If all goes well, I may have a few special Christmas gifts to give this this year.

My herb garden is in full tilt, so now I'm pondering possibilities for the mint and the basil. I'll keep you posted.

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