Home / Food / Preserving Food / Homemade Green Tomato Chow Chow

Homemade Green Tomato Chow Chow

If you’ve never tried green tomato chow chow, but love relishes and similarly tangy, yet sweet condiments, this recipe is for you! A traditional Canadian condiment most popular in Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, green tomato chow chow (sometimes also called tomato chow or green tomato relish) is best served with cold meats, burgers, casseroles, hot dogs, sausages, or fish cakes.

This simple condiment is a great way to preserve any green tomatoes from the garden that may not ripen before the first frost, or simply an easy foolproof recipe to try your hand at canning and home food preservation!

green tomatoes growing on a plant in the garden

This post contains affiliate links for which we may be compensated if a purchase is made through the links provided. For more information please read our affiliate disclosure.

Variations of Green Tomato Chow

Depending on where in North America you are, the ingredients for green tomato chow recipes can vary. The one common factor is that the various recipes all contain lots of green tomatoes! After that, the differences become quite noticeable resulting in an almost entirely different kind of pickle.

The traditional Atlantic Canadian recipe for green tomato chow is made using only green tomatoes, white onion, mustard seed, cloves, and white vinegar. With the migration of Acadians from the Canadian maritime provinces in 1765 to southern states such as Louisiana, and New Mexico, green tomato chow recipes there more closely mirror the traditional Canadian version of chow.

scooping green tomato chow out of a small glass bowl with a spoon

In the northeastern United States (such as Pennsylvania), green tomato chow chow recipes include a much larger variety of vegetables depending on what’s seasonally available. This includes green tomatoes, onions, red pepper, yellow pepper, green cabbage, cauliflower, peas, and carrots as well as various spices and vinegar. These recipes tend to resemble Piccalilli, (a British vegetable pickle) quite closely.

Equipment and Ingredients You’ll Need

Since we’ll be making the traditional Atlantic Canadian version of tomato chow, you really only need a handful of ingredients. If you’ve grown your own tomatoes in the garden this year, you won’t have any problems sourcing green tomatoes! If you wish to make the tomato chow slightly spicy, you can add one or two fresh jalapenos to the recipe.

Some recipes call for chopping the vegetables in a food processor, or grinder, though I prefer to keep the green tomatoes chunky as they do break down during the cooking process. You’ll need:

  • 10 lbs whole green tomatoes – they should be hard and firm, with no imperfections or signs of rot.
  • 2.5 lbs medium white onions – sliced
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 3 cups white sugar (brown sugar can also be used)
  • 2.5 cups pickling vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp pickling spice
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
some of the ingredients needed to make green tomato chow displayed on a wooden cutting board

If you plan on canning this recipe after cooking the tomato chow (as we will be) you’ll also need:

  • a large canning pot
  • a set of canning tongs
  • a ladel or handled cup to fill jars
  • oven mits
  • 8 – 9 500ml mason jars
  • New poplids and rings
  • labels
mason jars and lids, canning tongs, and other equipment displayed on a wooden cutting board

A note on canning

If you’ve never canned anything before, this is a great ‘intro to canning recipe‘ as its high acidity and few ingredients leave little room for error. Before beginning, please ensure sure you familiarize yourself with the basic process for canning high acid foods,! Knowing how to safely can foods is very important to prevent botulism, and if done correctly, will allow you to store the green tomato chow in a cool, dark place for up to 18 months! The processed jars also make a great gift during the holidays!

If you don’t wish to can this recipe, you can also just cool the finished chow and refrigerate it in jars for up to a month.

Canadian Green Tomato Chow Chow Recipe

Since there are several lengthy steps in this recipe, I would strongly suggest preparing and salting the onion and tomato mixture the day prior to cooking and canning. This will make the process easier, and also allow the salt to properly draw enough moisture out of the green tomatoes.

Preparing the Ingredients

1. Begin by sorting through all of your green tomatoes. The size does not matter so much as the quality of the fruits. The tomatoes should be firm, green, with no black spots, signs of disease, or pests. If a few tomatoes are just beginning to turn color, this is ok, but the vast majority of tomatoes should be green. Remove all leaves, stems, and flower nubs. Wash the selected fruit well to remove any dirt or insects from the garden.

Weigh the final selection of tomatoes to ensure you have 10lbs. Otherwise, adjust the remaining ingredients accordingly to maintain the correct recipe ratio.

2. Once the tomatoes are washed, cut the green tomatoes into a small bite-sized chunk. As my green tomatoes were a mix of cherry tomatoes and San Marzano tomatoes, I quartered the majority of them and cut the larger ones to match. A uniform size is important to ensure the even cooking of all vegetables.

Once the tomatoes are chopped, peel and slice the white onion. Cut the onion slices to be a little smaller than the tomato.

3. Mix the sliced onions and chopped green tomatoes together in a large bowl or pot. Add the pickling salt, and mix well. Cover the pot/bowl and refrigerate the salted vegetables for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Salting the vegetables helps draw out moisture from the tomatoes, while also seasoning the tomato mixture.

Cooking the Green Tomato Chow Chow

4. Once the salted vegetables have sat for 6 to 8 hours, pour off any resulting brine liquid from the pot/bowl and discard it. Drain well to prevent the end result from being too salty. A large colander works well for this.

5. In a separate small saucepan, mix the 2.5 cups vinegar with the 3 cups of white sugar. Mix well until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining white wine vinegar and spices to the sugar/ vinegar mix to create the pickling liquid.

mxing vinegar, sugar, and various spices in a small metal bowl with a whisk

6. Transfer the drained onion and tomato mixture to a large pot, add the pickling liquid to the pot, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Once the pot starts to simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the tomato chow for 1.5 – 2 hours stirring periodically. During the last half hour of cooking stir the pot more frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom.

green tomato chow chow in a steel pot when its finished cooking

Canning The Green Tomato Chow

7. During the time that the green tomato chow is simmering on the stove, assemble, wash, and prepare all your canning equipment.

This includes: washing all equipment, pots, and jars/lids in hot soapy water, heating the washed snap lids and rings for at least 10 minutes, boiling the washed glass jars for 10 minutes prior to filling in a large canning pot (keep jars and lids in hot water until ready to fill), setting out a dishcloth and rack on which the processed jars can cool, ensuring you have all tongs, ladles, stir spoons, and funnels you plan on using properly washed and dried.

Once everything is ready to go read over the basic steps of hot water bath canning again to familiarize yourself with the process and clear up any lingering questions you may have. For this recipe, we followed the USDA Home canning guidelines for processing times and headspace requirements as described in Guide 6: Preparing and canning fermented and pickled vegetables.

8. Once the green tomato chow has simmered for about 2 hours and has slightly thickened in consistency, it’s time to start canning! The tomatoes and onions should be fully translucent at this point.

Use your canning tongs to carefully remove a glass jar from the hot water (one at a time). Gently pour the water back into the pot, then fill the hot glass jar with the hot green tomato chow. Repeat this process until all glass jars are filled, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Work carefully, yet quickly to prevent the tomato chow and jars from cooling too much.

mason jars on a striped dish towel being filled with green tomato chow

Once all the jars are filled, use a clean dampened cloth to wipe all the jar rims, removing any spilled chow, and leaving a clean surface for the flat lids to seal to.

Related:  Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

Place a snap lid on each filled jar, followed by the metal ring, making sure not to twist the ring on too tightly. Fingertip tight is plenty!

Using the canning tongs, gently place the filled jars of green tomato chow back into the large pot of boiling water. Ensure there is at least 1 inch of water above the lids of the jars. This helps ensure even water temperature all around. It’s normal for air bubbles to start escaping from the jars, this is a good thing!

mason jars processing in a large pot of boiling water

Bring the canning pot to a roiling boil, and process the green tomato chow chow for 5 minutes at altitudes below 1000ft, 10 minutes for altitudes between 1000ft -6000ft, and 15 minutes for altitudes above 6000ft. Start the time only when the pot is at a rolling boil.

Cooling and Storing

9. Once the green tomato chow chow has been processed for the proper time as indicated above, turn off the pot of water and let the jars sit until the water has stopped boiling, about 5 minutes. Then carefully remove the jars one at a time with your canning tongs, and place them on a dishtowel or rack to cool for 24 to 48 hours at room temperature. You should hear the lids pop as the jars begin to cool down, indicating an air-tight seal.

vertical image of green tomato chow chow in labeled mason jars on a barn board surface.

Once fully cooled, and all lids have ‘popped’, remove the metal ring from the jars, and ensure all lids have properly sealed. Sealed lids will slightly curve downwards, and won’t move or make a clicking sound when pressed. Gently wipe the jars with a clean damp towel, and label the green tomato chow with the processing date. Leave the twist rings removed for long-term storage to prevent the lids from rusting. Store in a cool dark place for up to 18 months.

Any jars that did not properly seal, should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed promptly.

canadian green tomato chow chow in labeled mason jars on a rustic wooden surface

Homemade Green Tomato Chow Chow

Chef Markus Mueller
A great way to use up green tomatoes from the garden, this green tomato chow makes a delightful condiment for cold meats, sandwiches, burgers, sausages, fishcakes, and more!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 8 hrs
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 10 hrs 30 mins
Course Condiment
Cuisine Canadian
Servings 9 pint jars
Calories 447.9 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 10 pounds whole green tomatoes chopped into bite sized peices
  • 2.5 pounds medium white onions sliced
  • ¼ cup pickling salt
  • 3 cups white sugar brown sugar can also be used
  • 2.5 cups pickling vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions
 

Preparing & Salting The Vegetables

  • Begin by sorting through all the green tomatoes. The tomatoes should be firm, green, with no black spots, signs of disease, or pests. Remove all leaves, stems, and flower nubs. Wash the selected fruit well to remove any dirt or insects from the garden.
    Weigh the final selection of tomatoes to ensure you have 10lbs. Otherwise, adjust the remaining ingredients accordingly to maintain the correct recipe ratio.
    cleaned green tomatoes in three stainless steel bowls
  • Once the tomatoes are washed, cut the green tomatoes into a small bite-sized chunk. A uniform size is important to ensure the even cooking of all vegetables.
    chopping green tomaotes on a wooden cutting board
  • Once the tomatoes are chopped, peel and slice the white onion. Cut the onion slices to be a little smaller than the tomato.
    slicing white onion with a chefs knife on a wooden cutting board
  • Mix the sliced onions and chopped green tomatoes together in a large bowl or pot. Add the pickling salt, and mix well. Cover the pot/bowl and refrigerate the salted vegetables for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

Cooking The Green Tomato Chow Chow

  • Once the salted vegetables have sat for 6 to 8 hours, pour off any resulting brine liquid from the pot/bowl and discard it. Drain well to prevent the end result from being too salty. A large colander works well for this.
  • In a separate small saucepan or bowl, mix the 2.5 cups vinegar with the 3 cups of white sugar. Mix well until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining white wine vinegar and spices to the sugar/ vinegar mix to create the pickling liquid.
    vinegar, sugar, and various spices being mixed in a small metal bowl
  • Transfer the drained onion and tomato mixture to a large pot, add the pickling liquid to the pot, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Once the pot starts to simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the tomato chow for 1.5 – 2 hours stirring periodically. During the last half hour of cooking stir the pot more frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom.
    green tomato chow in a steel pot after cooking for two hours

Canning The Green Tomato Chow

  • During the time that the green tomato chow is simmering on the stove, assemble, wash, and prepare all your canning equipment.
    This includes: washing all equipment, pots, and jars/lids in hot soapy water, heating the washed snap lids and rings for at least 10 minutes, boiling the washed glass jars for 10 minutes prior to filling (keep jars and lids in hot water until ready to fill), setting out a dishcloth and rack on which the processed jars can cool, ensuring you have all tongs, ladles, stir spoons, and funnels you plan on using properly washed and dried.
    mason jars and lids, canning tongs, and other equipment displayed on a wooden cutting board
  • Use your canning tongs to carefully remove a glass jar from the hot water (one at a time). Gently pour the water back into the pot, then fill the hot glass jar with the hot green tomato chow. Repeat this process until all glass jars are filled, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Work carefully, yet quickly to prevent the tomato chow and jars from cooling too much.
    mason jars on a striped dish towel being filled with green tomato chow
  • Once all the jars are filled, use a clean dampened cloth to wipe all the jar rims, removing any spilled chow, and leaving a clean surface for the flat lids to seal to. Place a snap lid on each filled jar, followed by the metal ring, making sure not to twist the ring on too tightly. Fingertip tight is plenty!
  • Using the canning tongs, gently place the filled jars of green tomato chow back into the large pot of boiling water. Ensure there is at least 1 inch of water above the lids of the jars.
    mason jars processing in a large pot of boiling water
  • Bring the canning pot to a roiling boil, and process the green tomato chow chow for 5 minutes at altitudes below 1000ft, 10 minutes for altitudes between 1000ft -6000ft, and 15 minutes for altitudes above 6000ft. Start the time only when the pot is at a rolling boil.

Cooling and Storing

  • Once the green tomato chow chow has been processed for the proper time as indicated above, turn off the pot of water and let the jars sit until the water has stopped boiling, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the jars one at a time with your canning tongs, and place them on a dishtowel or rack to cool for 24 to 48 hours at room temperature. You should hear the lids pop as the jars begin to cool down, indicating an air-tight seal.
    canadian green tomato chow chow in labeled mason jars on a rustic wooden surface

Notes

Once fully cooled, and all lids have ‘popped’, remove the metal ring from the jars, and ensure all lids have properly sealed. Sealed lids will slightly curve downwards, and won’t move or make a clicking sound when pressed. Gently wipe the jars with a clean damp towel, and label the green tomato chow with the processing date. Leave the twist rings removed for long-term storage to prevent the lids from rusting. Store in a cool dark place for up to 18 months.
Any jars that did not properly seal, should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed promptly.

Nutrition

Calories: 447.9kcal
Keyword green tomato chow no cabbage, nova scotia green tomato chow
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Made the recipe? Comment & Rate it below, then take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest

Please note : We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

For more information please read our affiliate disclosure.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




*