Sweet pickles are one of those things. Those things that you either wrinkle up your nose in disgust at, or that you heap on your plate next to your mashed potatoes and dive in for seconds.
For some reason, I feel that I’ve been led to believe that these pickles, known as Chow, Chow Chow, or Green Tomato Chow, are a Maritime thing, but I don’t know if that’s true at all. What I do know is that they’re delicious, and a great way to use up those green tomatoes that might not ripen before the first frost. They’re fantastic with mashed potatoes, and are usually served with fish cakes, here in Nova Scotia. (Fish cakes are another thing I’ve always thought of as Maritime - would you like a recipe sometime? They’re amazingly delicious, quick, simple, and frugal.)
This particular recipe is from a wonderful woman named Shirley. She was my mother’s best friend when I was growing up, and she was like a second mom to me. She died on my first day of high school after a horrific ordeal with cancer. I still miss her and dream about her and her kitchen every now and then. I spent a lot of time at her house when I was a kid, most often in the kitchen, and remember being sent to fetch jars from the shelves in her basement before meals. Next to her dill pickles, I clearly remember bottles of bright chow lined up neatly.
A very special thanks to her daughter, who sent me many of Shirley’s recipes last year. This was my first attempt at making chow, and I’m so pleased that it tastes just like Shirley’s. I made half of the recipe, and it worked beautifully.
Shirley’s Chow Chow
9 lbs green tomatoes (approximately 60) sliced thick (approximately 27 cups)
6 lbs onions (20) sliced thick (approximately 18 cups)
¾ cup pickling salt
Put tomatoes and onions in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Let sit overnight. Drain and rinse.
6-8 cups cider vinegar
20 cups white sugar
½ cup mixed pickling spice, tied in bag
(Shirley tip: reserve 1 cup of vinegar and sugar for thickening mixture in next step)
Heat and add tomatoes and onions, simmer 1 hour or until somewhat soft.
¾ cup corn starch or flour
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
in reserved liquid. Add to pickles and thicken, stirring constantly.
More corn starch may be added as schow should be slightly thick. Pour
into sterile jars and seal.