The Art of a Great Chow Chow
This year, I’m on the verge of a tantalizingly tasty tomato crop. Reds, yellows & even purples I have painstakingly been gardening in a very organic fashion. But I always find some that have found a home on the ground, or a few that have a brown patch or two … and besides, I don’t always want to wait for the September for the last of the green tomatoes to make something with them … something called Chow Chow.
Many of you have been reading about the horrors of genetically modified produce & meat, and I have been doing my best to avoid GMOs & processed foods. Corn syrup, for instance, has given rise to heated arguments between scientists & health specialists & all kinds of people, and we all know we find it in everything.
One thing it’s in is Catsup. Or Ketchup. Heinz lists it here in Canada as ‘liquid syrup’, but we all know it’s genetically modified corn syrup.
Catsup or Ketchup is for some, like butter is to bread … a marvellously sweet, spicy & salty condiment that goes with everything from the classic french fry to being used as a flavour enhancer in curry sauces.
I don’t like bottled Ketchup. Sorry Heinz, but I can taste the fakeness. It just isn’t like it was when I was a kid (and I’m an OLD lady!).
But recently, thanks to a twitter friend, my attention was brought to a fantastically deliciously wonderful condiment that goes by the name “Chow Chow”.
Thank you dear twitter friend, because now my taste buds have taken me back to my childhood of travelling up to the cottage, stopping by the side of the road on Highway 11 North in Ontario at Dutchie’s Restaurant, where they made the best french fries I have ever eaten in my life. And I know, I KNOW, they had homemade ‘catsup’. Chow Chow brings me right back to the old style counter seats & smell of the fryer. Enough memories, let’s make some Chow Chow and can it!
What you will need:
6 cups of coarsely chopped green tomatoes*
* remove white core, & if too many or too large seeds remove as well
3 medium to large size onions, coarsely chopped
3 medium apples, coarsely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped up
1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 cups of white vinegar* (5% acetic acid)
* substitutes: red wine vinegar, 1/4 – 1/2 cup of lemon or lime juice
1 tbs. of mustard powder
1/4 tsp. of allspice (I put 1/2, I love it!)
1/4 tsp. of cumin
1/4 tsp. of red chili powder (spicy, don’t put in if you don’t like it)
Just a pinch, or two, of cinnamon
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup of pickling salt
In Quebec, additions such as green & red peppers and/or cauliflower are also included.
I always say, “Make sure you play with your food!”
How to Make Chow Chow:
In non-reactive pot (enamel, stainless steel), put 1/4 cup of water at bottom and heat on high.
Toss all ingredients except maple syrup & vinegar. Bring up to almost a boil & simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the touch of Canadiana style – maple syrup – and give it a stir. Then mix in all the vinegar.
Let this wonderful pot of goodness simmer on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes.
Depending on your choice, you can can this chunky or fine. I prefer it done fine, so I either mush it through a sieve or I use my hand blender.
Water bath canning takes 10 minutes (but as most know, this depends on your altitude.)
Serve with french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers …
One of my absolute favourite uses is as a wonderful side sauce for Jerk’d Chicken or Pork, and it goes heavenly with West Indian Curry.
Please try my recipe & let me know how it turns out for you.