“Putting up” with Lucky 32: Chowchow, Pickles and Preserves

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 36. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.

The end of summer often fills us with wonder. We anticipate the arrival of cooler nights and question the uncertainty of the remaining gardening months – will winter be fast and furious or will autumn linger enough to provide a second crop of tender leafy edibles? Traditionally the subsistence farmers in this area experienced wonder of their own, not knowing whether they’ve grown and preserved enough food to get them through the winter. Folk who are connected to the land still feel that in the kitchen while planning out menus and looking forward to the coming crops. We’re really anxious to put our summer crops behind us because this year they’ve really underperformed, due mainly to lack of sunshine. That being said, the transition from summer to fall should be celebrated, and traditionally the best way to celebrate that is through canning.

In our humble opinion, there isn’t anything more emblematic of canning than chowchow. This southern condiment is kind of a mish-mash of end of summer garden vegetables with some spices, vinegar and sugar. The vegetables are chopped up finely, cooked down, preserved, and consumed throughout the whole year. In the piedmont, dried beans were consumed often during the cold months, and people liked to garnish their beans with chowchow. There’s something very pioneer about the aroma of chowchow simmering on the stove. It’s not much to look at but it’s quintessentially southern and quite tasty.

As with many traditional dishes, there’s no definitive recipe for chowchow, only a formula. You need something with texture (like cauliflower, cabbage or green tomatoes), some sweet (sugar), and sour (usually cider vinegar), and the success of the recipe is all about how those ingredients play together. Chowchow is an expression of location and identity. At the restaurant we make chow chow year round and we prefer to use green tomatoes for ours. We love our chowchow so much that we’ve incorporated it into quite a few dishes, such as our tartar sauce, 32,000 Island dressing, remoulade, and egg salad.

Recipe: Lucky 32 Chowchow

  • 1 ½ cups green tomatoes, seeded and rough chopped
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, rough chopped
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, rough chopped
  • ½ cup yellow onion, rough chopped
  • ¾ tsp mustard seed
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper

In a food processor, pulse tomatoes until finely chopped but not pureed. Pulse peppers and onion until finely chopped. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Cool and store in a jar or container with a lid. Makes 2 ½ cups

Recipe: Lucky 32 Egg Salad

  • 2 cups chopped hard boiled eggs
  • ½ cup green tomato chowchow
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup mayonnaise

 Squeeze liquid from the chowchow until it is dry. Add eggs to a mixing bowl, season with salt. Make sure that most of the liquid is out of the chowchow. Add chowchow and mayonnaise to eggs; fold until well combined. Allow to rest in refrigerator until chilled before serving. Makes 2 ½ cups

Some things you can do with chowchow:

  • Replace relish in recipes
  • Garnish your beans
  • Put on a ham biscuit (thank Shannon Smith for this idea)
  • Add it to a pasta salad

photo-24 For more on “putting up,” check out:

For more recipes, visit https://www.lucky32.com/recipes.htm

For more about our seasonal recipes, see our current menu at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and our Blog Recipe Index:http://lucky32southernkitchen.com/recipes/

Posted September 2013

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