Chow Chow (Picalilli) Relish

Most people have fond memories of things cooked in their grandmother’s kitchen.  Unfortunately, I don’t.  All I can remember of my Grandma Pierce’s kitchen was that she fried Spam. (Yuck!).  As a kid, I didn’t know what that was and I don’t even know what she served with it. While she wasn’t a great cook, one thing that she did make was “Chow Chow” that my sister really liked as a little girl.  Unfortunately, by the time I came along, she wasn’t making a garden or canning anymore, so I have no memory of it.

On the other hand, my mother was a great cook and did lots of canning.  She was somewhat infamous for her “Lime Pickles”.  Oh, the color of those pickles!  I can’t even describe the unnatural green color of them.  How much food coloring must have been used through the years!  I doubt if they started out that way, but as time went by, they were greener and greener.   They tasted great, but we all certainly make fun of how they looked!

After seeing a recipe for “Chow Chow” in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, I thought that this might be a fun recipe to try in memory of my grandmother.  Well, I am glad that I did!  I really like this relish!  I think generations ago, it was usually served along with pinto beans and cornbread (which was the nearly daily meal in my dad’s family).  I’m sure that would be good, but it is also great served with hot dogs, pulled pork, hamburgers, sloppy joes, or anything that you might like to eat with regular coleslaw or relish.  Since making it, I’ve even been known to just eat a spoonful out of the jar!  It’s that good!

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  • 1 quart chopped cabbage (about 1 small head)
  • 3 cups cauliflower (about 1 medium head)
  • 2 cups chopped green tomatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped onions (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped green peppers (about 4 small)
  • 1 cup chopped sweet red peppers (about 2 small)
  • 3 tablespoons canning salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar



Combine all vegetables;  sprinkle with salt.

Let this stand for 4-6 hours to draw out moisture.

Drain well.  Then rinse and drain again.

Combine sugar, spices and vinegar in a large sauce pot.

Simmer 10 minutes.

Add vegetables; simmer 10 minutes more.

Bring to a boil.

Pack hot relish into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Remove any air bubbles and adjust caps.

Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Recipe source:  Ball Blue Book of Preserving

Yield: 4-5 pint jars.