Sunday, November 8, 2009

Balsamic Habanero Green Tomato Chow Chow... A Most Versatile Relish

Honestly, at our house, this stuff is treasured mainly for it's versatility and for being a spur of the moment appetizer. We've even been known to blow through an entire sleeve of saltine crackers just as vehicles for delivering this scrumptious relish to our mouths. When Chow-Chow is involved we are a shameless pair.

A few years back I was making this and realized at the last moment that I didn't have any white vinegar. Not wanting to return to the market for the umpteenth time, I found several bottles of Balsamic vinegar and decided to go with it. Now mind you, it isn't nearly as attractive as the Chow-Chow made with white vinegar, but oh the taste! It really seems to bring out flavors that were there before but never noticed. Magical marriage, I tell you. Now, we have friends who ask whether or not I'm making it with the Balsamic again, so I know they like it. Hell, they beg for it!

Actually, I wasn't even going to make it this year because I didn't do a garden. Then last Saturday morning I awoke to find a large plastic bag full of green tomatoes, given to me by my mail lady, Diane. Bless her heart! She had canned to her heart's content and was still left with an abundance of green tomatoes, so she brought them to me. I'm not sure whether I should thank her or not, but I did anyway. I mean, it's a lot of work!

However, I put my big girl panties on and set to the task at hand. Here's the recipe:

Balsamic Vinegar Habanero Green Tomato Chow-Chow:


4 to 5 pounds of green tomatoes
3 large yellow onions
10 cloves of garlic
10 jalapeno peppers, seeded
8 Habanero peppers, seeded
1 green bell pepper, seeded
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded
1 head of cabbage
1 head of cauliflower
2 cans of medium size artichoke hearts, drained

For the Pickling Liquid:

6 cups of Balsamic vinegar
2 cups of water
5-1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of salt
2 teaspoons of mustard seed
1 Tablespoon of ground turmeric
2 teaspoons of celery seed
2 teaspoons whole allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
3 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
kitchen twine


1. In a large non-reactive pan combine the vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring until dissolved.

2. Cut a large piece of cheesecloth and lay it flat. In the middle, place the remaining six ingredients, pull up around the spices to make a small bag and tie it closed with a 6 inch strand of kitchen twine, trim excess with scissors, then add it to the liquid.

3. Bring mixture to a boil and allow to simmer for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, or until reduced by half.

4. During the simmering time, add all ingredients to the food processor with metal blade, in shifts, so as to not get the processor bowl too full. I only use the pulse button for this part. That way, the veggies don't get too pulverized.

5. When liquid has reduced by half, add all the ingredients and heat to just short of boiling, usually around 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Have all canning supplies standing by and ready to go. Fill each jar to just within a 1/8" of the top, with a clean moistened cloth wipe any excess of the rim, but do be careful, as the jars will be very hot. Place sterilized lid on top and secure with metal band. (Don't over tighten as that may cause the lid to bend and thus, not get a good seal.)

7. Turn the jar over to rest upside down for approximately 30 minutes or until all lids are securely sealed.

8. Here's the hardest part of all. Wait for 3 weeks before opening, allowing the mixture to soak up the liquid and pickle itself.

So, there you have it! Once it's ready for consumption, you can use it on just about any meats and for an elegant appetizer, pour the dark mixture over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers. I've even used it as a marinade, which gives a wonderful flavor to uncooked meat as well.