Monday, July 20, 2009

Green Tomato Relish & The Gift of Southern Cooking

This delicious, tangy Green Tomato Relish is made of green tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and spices. It's perfect with sandwiches, potatoes and dinner entrees. I found this recipe in one of my favorite Southern Cookbooks....... The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis  & Scott Peacock.  
Our tomato plants are just about coming to an end in our garden. The heat is so bad that the plants are starting to dry out and burn up, don't you just love the Texas Heat UGH!! So far we have gotten a great crop of tomatoes this year and they are still producing like crazy.

We have used most to make homemade salsa and have been eating are way through the rest but, there is no way we can ripen and eat all of them. I will keep some of the ripened ones and get those canned or frozen to use at a later time. Can you believe I am already thinking about homemade Christmas Gifts.

My favorite gifts to give are the ones from my kitchen, plus I wanted to get a jump on some canning. I love Green Tomato Relish, which also goes by the name of Chow Chow in some area's.  Green Tomato relish is one of my favorite things to get along side a fried catfish dinner. I could just sit and eat that relish all by itself, it's that good.

This relish also pairs well with with sausages, pork, ham, or serve it with hot dogs or burgers. I thought it would be neat to try and make it myself. I saw a recipe in one of my new favorite cookbooks. "The Gift of Southern Cooking" By Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock.

This cookbook has the best old fashioned southern favorites inside, which in my opinion are the best of the best when it comes to recipes.Edna's recipe is easy and straight to the point. The hardest part of the whole thing was chopping up all those vegetables. I really need to get with the times and invest in a good food processor. 

I always think it is something I wont use, well that is until I start on a recipe like this particular one. Once all the tomatoes, peppers and onions were chopped up it was downhill easy. The kids kept telling me that the house smelled really bad! LOL it was all that cider vinegar. I really didn't think it smelled that bad at all. I can Pickles and Squash Relish so I guess you get used to it. 

This recipe yielded 3 pint size jars and 5 half pint jars. Just enough to keep a few and to give away as gifts. You really need to give this relish a try especially if you are a lover of green tomatoes.

I also made a big batch of  Fried Green Tomatoes a couple weeks back and they were
awesome. I will be posting that recipe as well. If you want  try your hand at canning this is a really easy recipe to try. I really enjoyed making it, especially knowing I used almost all the vegetables called for from our very own garden.

Here is a picture of that wonderful cookbook. I think the cover is so pretty, a true southern photo, sitting out on the porch enjoying the day with food and friends. Food taste so much better when shared with someone.

These are the ingredients you will need: Full recipe at the end of this post
green tomatoes, green bell peppers, 1 yellow or red bell pepper. (the red pepper were more than $2 at the store.

I just couldn't pay that much so I used all the green bell peppers we had from our garden) its your choice. Mustard seed, celery seed, sugar, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt and 4 medium yellow onions or one very large.

To start you will need to chop the tomatoes. The recipe calls for chopping the tomatoes really fine, but I like a chunky relish so i diced up the green tomatoes. Seed and dice the peppers and chop up the onions. Add all the vegetables to a large pot.Add the mustard seed, celery seed, kosher salt,
vinegar and


Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer over medium heat. Cook stirring often and skimming as needed. ( I did not have to skim off anything) Simmer until the relish/chow chow cooks down and thickens into a relish, about 2 hours.

this is what it looks like when it is all done. Fill and process your jars.

Sterilize the jars by placing them in a pot of boiling water. Place a large dish cloth in the bottom of large pot. Place canning jars on top of dish cloth. This will prevent the jars from having direct contact with the bottom of the pot.

Fill with cold tap water to cover the jars. Bring to a boil, this will sterilize your jars so you can fill them with your cooked mixture. After water comes to a boil turn off heat and remove jars with tongs and a hot pad. Be careful they are very hot.

Place on a dish towel on the counter. You can also sterilize them by running them through a cycle in the dishwasher. Place the lids and rings in a separate bowl add boiling water just to cover them. I place mine one up one down so they don't stick together.

Your jars are now ready to fill. Fill the sterilized jars with the hot tomato relish mixture, wipe the rim and sides of the jars with a clean wet cloth. This removes all the sticky stuff so your jar will seal.

Using canning tongs remove a lid and ring and dry with a dry clean cloth or paper towel. Place a lid and a ring on the jar and twist don't use all your strength just tighten it snug.

I place all of mine on a towel on the counter until I fill all of the jars and add the lids and rings. Place a towel on the bottom of the pot a dish cloth or dish towel is perfect. This again keeps the jars and the pot from coming into contact with each other once they are added to the pot.

So using a hot pad since the filled jars are hot place enough jars in the pot that will fit, but do not touch each other. Place on top of dish cloth. Fill the pot with enough water to cover about 1 inch above the jars. Bring the pot of water to a rolling boil.

Once it boils your processing time begins. Put the lid on the pot and process half pint jars for 5 minutes and pint size jars for 10 minutes. When the time is up remove lid and remove jars carefully.

Use tongs and a hot pad. Place jars back on the dish towel to cool on the counter. Let your jars sit on the counter overnight. In the morning press down on the lids to make sure they are sealed properly, the lid should not pop up when you press it.

Recipe Source: The Gift of Southern Cooking


Krystal said... #

That sounds like a great way to use up tomatoes. Ours are just getting close to being ripe here.

It's a canning day at our house too, I've got apricots all over my kitchen. :)

Tina Butler said... #

Oh Krystal that sounds so fun. I cant wait to get to cannning, apple butter, peach preserves and apple pie filling it is so much fun. What are you making with the apricots?

Lisa said... #

I've been canning today, too. I made some salsa verde. Come visit and see

chow and chatter said... #

this looks great great way to use all of your tomatos

Lisa said... #

Yes, Canning is rewarding! I enjoy it so much....I will have to try your meatloaf for my son's birthday!

Allison said... #

Girl- you and Christy were on the same wavelength with your tomoato posts! I love the chow chow idea (even though I don't grow things. lol). Do you ever can yours like Christy's like for stews and soups? I wish I had grown some tomatoes now. There's always next year.

Bunny said... #

I haven't gotten any red tomatoes yet but boy when they start turning I need to have a plan!!!Your relish sounds wonderful!!

Sherri Murphy said... #

Thanks for another great tomato recipe. I requested them on my site today because I have been given an over-abundance from my neighbor's garden. Perfect timing!

Unknown said... #

I'm still waiting on our toms, got a late start due to all the rain but when we have extra green ones, I make green salsa, very good too!

Lara said... #

I love home canned tomatoes, although I've never actually done it myself.

carmen said... #

I have tons of tomatoes for this recipe and can't wait to make the relish. But it is 105 degrees here and I am wondering if you crockpot this?

Tina Butler said... #

Carmen I have never tried this recipe in the crock pot. We are hot out here as well. I guess it wouldnt hurt to try to make this in the crock pot. Just watch it carefully so it doesnt get to mushy. LMK it works out.

Bailey said... #

Hello -
I am a filmmaker in Atlanta. I just wanted to let you know I produced a 21 minute documentary about Edna Lewis. The film is called "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie".

It is viewable in its entirety on Internet at a Gourmet Magazine website:

My website,

has more information about the film and the story of Miss Lewis.

Bailey Barash

Tina Butler said... #

Thank you Bailey for including the link. I am still working my way through that beautiful cookbook. Ednas story is so touching and Mr. Peacock is just a lovely person for all he has leaned from Edna and all he has done for her. I learned through watching just like Edna the old ways and recipes are truly the best.

Leslie said... #

wow..that looks like a hell of a lot of work! But it looks well worth it!

diana said... #

Did you put onion in this recipes?

Tina Butler said... #

Diana thank you for catching that. It was in the ingredient listing pictured, but I forgot to add it in the actual recipe. It has been fixed.

Unknown said... #

My mother loved tomato relish. I never got a taste for it but you sure have brought back some memories for me.

Unknown said... #

Hi Tina! I linked you in my blog with my chow chow. Thank you!

Unknown said... #

Tina - I bought those labels several years ago at Current. I looked and only saw Christmas ones.

Found some at

Thank you! Love your site.

healthy1 said... #

Just an fyi, the recipe when you print it still doesn't show onion as ingredients for green tomatoe relish.

Tina Butler said... #

Thanks, I fixed this one but forgot the printable. I think it is finally fixed now.

Chow-Chow Relish said... #

Thanks for the detailed recipe and I loved your pictures. I've been looking for a Chow-Chow recipe for my first attempt and now I have found it!

Anonymous said... #

made some green tomato relish yesterday. found your site online while using google. my husband tried a little and loves it :) thank you!

Tina Butler said... #

I am so glad you tried out the recipe and liked it so well. I wish I had some more green tomatoes so i could make another batch. I will have to wait till next year.

Adrienne S. said... #

Thank you! I still have a huge box of green tomatoes I need to do something with and there is only so many fried and pickled green tomatoes you can eat! I'm making this tonight:)

Unknown said... #

Thank you for such a wonderful blog. I, like many, am inendated with green tomatoes and couldn't stand to let them waste away. I fed a lot to my chickens, pickled several half pints and am doing the chow chow right now!! Love:)

Anonymous said... #

Hey mommy - I made this recipe last weekend and it turned out FABULOUS!! It made about 5 pint jars, 1 1/2 pint with 1/2 a cup left which I just put in the fridge. I gave the 1/2 pint to a friend who I knew would tell me the truth and she eamiled the next day raving about the fact that her fam ate half the jar in one sitting. We then had chili for my hubby's birthday - his request and the little left in the freezer I took out and used in the chili - It was wonderful - tangy and sweet all rolled into onw. I'm mad I don't have any more green tomoatoes!! This will be going in only a few of my Christmas baskets to a few lucky people. I'm on the prowl for more green tomatoes. And I'm on the prowl for this cookbook - had my eye on it but now I'm relaly going to get it. Thanks for posting this. Corynne

Anonymous said... #

Hi, I am not much of a cook but it is now November and it is suppose to freeze tonight so I picked about 3 dozen green tomatoes from my one and only vine that I have been eating from all summer. (Don't know what kind it was but I wish I could get another like it) I am going to try this recipe for green tomato relish. I love having the pictures to go by and the directions were good even for a person that does not cook a lot like me. I have made pickles a few times and they were good but my granny was alive to tell me what to do to make them. Thanks for the recipe.

Tina Butler said... #

Hi Corynne, I am so glad the recipe turned out for you and even more excited that you loved it. I am so sad that my green tomatoes have come to a end as well. I got a few off ab out 2 weeks ago to make friend green tomatoes, but that is it there gone till next year. I have two jars left for christmas gifts. I want that cookbook as well. I only previewed it a couple times from the library and i love it. Edna lewis is a awesome lady. I buy a lot of my cookbooks at so check there.

Anonymous, I am so glad the pictures will help you out. A visual always helps me. Good Luck and lmk how you like the recipe.

Anonymous said... #

Hi from England,
I had lots of green tomatoes last year, so googled and found your recipe and the relish was absolutely wonderful.Now just opened my last jar! Thankyou. So i have added your site to my favourites and will try more recipes this year.

Anonymous said... #



Ott, A. said... #

Thanks so much for stopping by and linking up to our canning week blog party. This looks delish! So happy to have found your blog and become your newest follower.

Anonymous said... #

I just read your recipe for green tomato relish. Its the only one I found that doesn't use alot of salt. Thank you for that. I made one that used 1 cup and I had to throw it away. Way to salty and a waste of good tomatoes. In place of some of the green peppers I will use some of my hot peppers. I like a little heat. Thanks again for a good low salt recipe.

Beetique said... #

This is a great recipe. I gave a friend a couple jars and he wants the recipe. Says it's the best relish he ever ate!

Anonymous said... #

This is my first year at this - I'm enjoying it immensely. However, is there any such thing as a green tomato that is TOO unripe? Too small? My plants were dying, so I pulled everything off - some tomatoes are very small - how do I know which ones I can include in this recipe (which I can't WAIT to make!!!!!)?

Anonymous said... #

can you freeze this receipe instead of canning?

Mommy's Kitchen said... #

This would not be a good if you froze it. The peppers will absorb too much water and then it will be mushy instead of having a nice crunch to the relish.

Holly said... #

Just filled my crockpot with your pumpkin spiced applesauce but I have varied it a little. Lucky enough to have a Victorian food mill, I blanched my apples first in boiling water, and started with just the pulp to save a process. As I didn't have Pumpkin spice I simply mixed up a batch from a recipe I had on hand. Have been sneaking tastes and its wonderful, can't wait to try the finished process. I am also in the process of making your Green Tomato Relish and with all the rave reviews I'm sure it will be a big hit.

GrammyShuler said... #

A neighbor gave me some green tomatoes I have never canned before and started surfing the web for recipes. I came across and found your recipe for Green Tomato Relish. It is Awesome!

Wel- Come said... #

Just made this -- and it turned out wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said... #

Best chow chow I've ever had. I've made four batches of it. Thanks for sharing!

Heather Jacobsen said... #

this looks like a great recipe! i'll let you know for sure in about an hour and a half. my relish is cooking now. :) you should submit your recipe to, since its also naturally gluten-free!

Aline said... #

I love your recipe! My family members were sad when I ran out last year. This time we visited a tomato farm and returned with two cases of green tomatoes just for chow chow. I got the rest of the ingredients yesterday and my husband and I got up this morning poised to make 3 batches. I could not believe my eyes this morning when I found all my tomatoes had turned pink literally overnight! Since they were still hard like green tomatoes we decided to proceed. I am happy to say that my PINK TOMATO RELISH is wonderful!!! Thank you for sharing this!

Shirl said... #

I have made this recipe twice now. The second batch is simmering on the stove as I type. I add some seeded jalapeƱo pepper (1 or 2 small ones) and I use more red bell pepper than green simply because I love the color. I add some granulated garlic powder as well. We also like it with crunch, so we don't cook it as long.
I only wish I could can so that I could enjoy this all year! :( When I make a batch, we eat it and share it. Lots of work but sooooo worth it! This recipe is a keeper in our family.

Anonymous said... #

The first pic looks like there is a jalepeno. Is it just bell peppers in the recipe?

Denise Tedeschi Illustration said... #

Tried this recipe and really enjoyed it. I just added some to a chicken salad and it gives it great flavor.

Instead of canning I portioned it out into small freezer bags and hopefully they'll thaw well to use as needed.

Thank you so much for such a great blog site with useful projects and ideas.
Best, Denise T.

Anonymous said... #

First time making and canning added jalapeno. well worth the work.

Unknown said... #

I love your whole family loved it!! Thank you for sharing!

Unknown said... #

Thank you for sharing your family loved it!!!

Anonymous said... #

Just made my second batch in as many days. Will be making another tomorrow. Love it! Have 24 pints so far and a little for the fridge. These will make wonderful Christmas gifts! Thank you for sharing

Anonymous said... #

Haven't eaten or made chow chow in years. Remember my grandmother making it and I was too young to appreciate it. Just made a batch when I pulled all my tomatoes out before the frost. What can I say.... Wow! As recipes go, this one was simple, straight forward and very good. Will be keeping this one in my perminant file. Thanks for such a good recipe.

Anonymous said... #

I was looking for a recipe for a chunky green tomato relish when I ran across this blog. I love all the detail. I haven't canned anything in over 30 years and this blog takes me through the process step by step. I now feel more comfortable about canning the leftover green tomatoes from my garden. The recipe looks really good too!

Anonymous said... #

Tried your recipe today. The parents' enjoyed. Even made a second batch, with a few adjustments (I seem to have inherited my Granny's inability to leave a recipe alone without alterations). Yours is really good for those making relish for the first time, which I was. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said... #

What is the shelf life of this relish?, this was my first time making in and we all love it.

Tina Butler said... #

Properly can items have a shelf life of one year {stored in your pantry}.

juneytunes said... #

Thanks so much for the recipe. It will freeze tonite and I picked 2 bushels of green tomatoes. My Boss told me about chowchow and all the recipes I found wanted me to salt and wait hours, then just can with hot liquid. I've never canned like that before and this is similar to my Hungarian chili sauce with red tomatoes. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing!

Anonymous said... #

Hi, Dave from Australia here. Would this recipe work with green Cherry Tomatoes ?.
Thanks for a great recipe and blog.

Anonymous said... #

I made a 1.5 batch of the relish (very good!), but it made 11 pints. I used 30 small to medium tomatoes. I was thinking it should have made closer to 9 pints. Will it be acidic enough?

Unknown said... #

Making this now..tasted really good cold already..can't wait. why the long (2hrs) cooking process?

Randal Oulton said... #
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina Butler said... #

Randal Oulton,
I'm sorry, but I can't help on that one. This recipe is from Edna Lewiis & Scott Peacocks Cookbook, so this recipe was prepared as written. I have never cooked or home canned using Stevia so I don't know. Sorry :(

Randal Oulton said... #
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said... #

I was wanting to freeze this, but read a comment against freezing. Do you think there's a way to thicken it enough to put it in the dehydrator?

Tina Butler said... #

This relish is not a freezable recipe or one that can be dehydrated. The only way to preserve this would be through canning.

Pittsburgh John said... #

This is my first time canning anything, and my results using mostly cherry tomatoes seems successful.
It was a guess determining how many cherry toms to use instead of full size ones.
I'm confused by instructions in other recipes that seem to be missing from this recipe.
Should I be adding additional cook time since my home is roughly 1030 feet in elevation?
Do you have a suggestion for required head space?
I used 1/2 pint jars if size matters for head space or elevation issues.

Thanks for providing a great recipe. With my success in this experiment, and your easy instructions, I feel comfortable to try other canning ventures.

B. Lawson said... #

Love this recipe. Searching & searching, was thinking I would never find it. There you were just waiting for me to find you. I did. Made this last night. Is wonderful and exactly what I was searching for. Thank you so much for sharing.


Mitzie Muse said... #

Would it work to freeze the chow chow in plastic freezer containers instead of canning in sterilized jars?

Anonymous said... #

I made this recipe 2 days ago and it was an instant hit. The only thing I added was turmeric and I used pickling salt not kosher.

mary said... #

Just thought I would let you know that your recipe has arrived in New Zealand. My vege garden is slowing down now after a very productive summer and I have been bottling and freezing the last of the summer crops. The tomatoes have been late this year hence the availability of green tomatoes. My English born Mum used to make green tomato chutney and then I came across your recipe - and its delish!

Anonymous said... #

Absolutely love this recipe. We eat as much fresh (just after 2 hours simmer) as we do canning. Also like variations, adding 2 T Cumin seed, reducing sugar by 1/2 cup and OMG. This is delicious on corn chips.

Unknown said... #

This relish is AMAZING! I have made it every year after I found it 3 years ago and everyone LOVES this stuff so much. I usually quadruple batch it and it's all gone by the following summer. Thank you so much for this recipe!

Unknown said... #

Looks and sounds like a great recipe and am trying it tomorrow. I'm using a variety of sizes of green tomatoes....cherry, pear and large, so hoping I can guess what the equivalent of 12 large or 20 med/small measure in oz or lbs as I combine sizes. I'll try to comment again after I make mine.

Unknown said... #

I have made green tomato relish before but with a different recipe-I halved the recipe and added more sugar to my taste-Can’t wait to try with a meal