Canned Chow Chow in a Jar, with a White Label Stating it
Food - Drink
Chow-Chow: The South's Beloved Bumper Crop Relish
If you were born in the South, your summer dinners likely included freshly-picked vegetables and piping hot cornbread with a jar of sweet and tangy chow-chow relish on the side. Seemingly derived from the French word "chou," meaning "cabbage," chow-chow's origins can be traced to multiple countries before it arrived in America.
Some believe that the Acadian people, who migrated from Nova Scotia to Louisiana in the early 1800s, brought their French traditions with them, which eventually morphed into Cajun cuisine, including chow-chow. Others claim that chow-chow was brought to America in the early part of the 20th century by Chinese railroad workers.
All chow-chows have an acidic base, usually vinegar, and while cabbage and green tomatoes are also core ingredients, according to Chef Karl Worley, many cooks experiment with different spices and produce, The produce is salted to draw out moisture, then brined in vinegar, sugar, and seasonings like mustard seeds or red pepper.
Chow-chow can either be refrigerated or canned, and the relish works perfectly with Southern favorites like deviled eggs, or country ham and biscuits. You can also use chow-chow in international cuisines to give an acidic edge to various dishes, and even use it to make salad dressings such as Thousand Island more flavorful.