Chow Chow

If you have ever driven through Western North Carolina in the spring or summer you may have noticed that, even though the house or single wide trailer is on the side of a hill, the flat land is reserved for the vegetable garden. Gardening and preserving your harvest is a big deal in the rural Appalachians and almost everyone grows at least a small garden and "cans" the surplus. Canning to anyone from the mountains means to preserve fruit and vegetables in mason jars and storing them away for winter. As a child my favorite snacks came from the can house not the store, canned peaches and homemade sauerkraut with the cabbage core in the middle of the jar were my favorites. The picture above on the left is a picture of my grandparents can house. Can houses were built back into a bank so that they were naturally insulated and your jars of food would not freeze and burst.

I may not live in the mountains anymore but me and my wife carry on this tradition. We live in suburban hell and I am sure it is against our HOA but this is what my backyard looks like.
My old Jessie girl smiling about all the fresh produce from the backyard. 

With all of that said, what in the hell is Chow Chow? Well it is a little pint jar of heaven, it is mainly cabbage, green tomatoes and spices pickled in a sweet pickling brine and is absolutely delicious. Not sure if it is popular in other parts of the country but it is such a staple here in NC it is locally made and sold in grocery stores. I took this pic at Food Lion this morning. Of course homemade is much better!!!

What is chow chow particularly delicious with? Fried trout! Here is my Great Grandmother's recipe:

4 cps chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups sweet pepper (red or green)
2 cups green tomatoes
2 cups carrots (optional, we never put them in)
1/2 cup canning salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. mustard seed
2 Tbsp. celery seed
4 cups white vinegar
Chop and measure all vegetables.  Dissolve salt in 8 cups water.  Pour over chopped vegetables.
Let stand overnight.  Drain and rinse and rinse  again and drain.  Mix vegetables with, seeds, and vinegar.  Simmer 20 minutes and bring to boil. Pack hot in pint jars. Water bath for 10 minutes.

I hope you decide to try chow chow for yourself, with fresh fried trout or pinto beans there is nothing finer. 

See you on the creek, Chris


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