Lithuanian Chow-Chow Recipe For Your Autumn Harvest
This chow-chow recipe makes delicious use of autumn’s harvest of cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and peppers. Our Lithuanian recipe is dressed with a fragrant blend of vinegar, sugar, prepared mustard, and spices that gives it robust flavor and vivid color.
This chow chow relish is an unexpected alternative to salad and one that will keep you coming back for seconds. If you enjoy a little heat, add a few hot peppers. If you prefer mild flavor, stick with bell peppers. Since we grew peppers in our garden this year, we substituted about half of the bell peppers for others that we grew: Hungarian yellow, Hungarian paprika, and chervena chushka peppers.
Fall is a great time to make chow-chow for two reasons: the vegetables are in season and the nights are cooler. Since these vegetables need to sweat in salt overnight and since they take up so much space, finding room for them in your refrigerator in the summertime could be challenging. Since autumn nights are cool, we stored our covered vegetables overnight on a screened-in porch.
Allow plenty of time to prepare this chow-chow recipe as you will need it to clean all of the vegetables and for the actual canning process.
From the Kitchen of
Emilija Gvazdaitytė Naujalienė, 1886 – 1966
- 6 heads cauliflower
- 3 heads cabbage (about 13.5 pounds)
- 7 large bell peppers
- 40 assorted mild or hot peppers (or 8 more bell peppers)
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 lbs pearl onions (raw, frozen pearl onions can be substituted if fresh are unavailable)
- 3 cups salt
- 16 cups white vinegar
- 8 cups cold water
- 6 cups prepared mild yellow mustard
- 4 tsp celery seed
- 4 tsp mustard seed
- 2 TBS turmeric
- 8 TBS flour
- 15 cups sugar
Yield: 19.5 quarts
Day 1: Since we did not have a bowl large enough to handle this volume of vegetables, we divided our vegetables into three equal portions. We mixed two portions in 16” stainless steel bowls and one portion in a deep lasagna pan. Dividing them into three portions makes processing on day two much easier.
Clean the cauliflower, separate the heads into small florets, and place the florets in your bowl(s). Shred the cabbage into narrow strips (using a vegetable slicer or sharp knife) and add it to the cauliflower. Slice the ribs of celery into small pieces and add them to the cauliflower and cabbage. Peel the pearl onions and add them. Remove the seeds from the peppers, cut the peppers into pieces comparable in size to the sliced celery, and add them to the other vegetables.
Pour the salt over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and store them in a cool place overnight.
Day 2: After the vegetables have sweated in the salt for 15 to 18 hours, carefully drain the water from them.
Sterilize your jars by boiling them in a waterbath canner or large stockpot. Drain and keep warm until you are ready to fill them. Heat your canning lids in water and keep them hot, but do not boil.
To maximize vegetable crispness, it is important to work quickly. As soon as the vegetables boil, they are ready to be placed in jars; topped with liquid; covered with lids; and sealed with bands. It is easier to process this much chow-chow in three batches. If you process yours in three batches, then simply divide the remaining ingredients into three to proceed. Our instructions are based on three batches.
After draining the vegetables, place the first batch of them in a large stockpot. Mix ⅓ of the flour and sugar together and pour this mixture over the vegetables. Top with ⅓ of the remaining ingredients: vinegar, water, prepared mustard, celery seed, mustard seed, and turmeric. Mix thoroughly and place the stockpot on the stove.
Heat on high, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a full boil. Immediately remove the pot from the stove.
Using a slotted spoon and funnel, quickly fill the jars with vegetables and then top them with liquid from the pot. Use a canning spatula or knife to press out any air pockets in the jars. Wipe the mouth of each jar; top it with a lid; and seal it
tightly with a band. Place the jars on a surface where they will not be disturbed until the lids seal and the jars are cooled.
Repeat this cooking and canning process with the other two batches.
After the lids have sealed and the jars are completely cooled, it is okay to remove the bands from the jars. Store the chow-chow in a cool, dark pantry for up to 12 months. Serve chow chow relish cold and refrigerate after opening.