Red Cabbage Chow Chow

August 7, 2020cookwcharacter

Today’s recipe may be a little out of some people’s comfort zones, because it involves canning. You could easily just put this chow chow in the fridge if you’re really uncomfortable with canning, but I do encourage you to try. It’s water bath canning, which is like gateway canning. Once you start, you’ll likely wonder why you ever thought it was scary or hard!

This chow chow was made because I had a lot of veggies that needed used, and I decided that while I’d never had chow chow really, the combination sounded delicious. And I mean, I love homemade red cabbage sauerkraut (that’s a blog post for later this fall), so why would this not be awesome?

I think what sealed the deal was when I was watching the chow chow recipe that Whipporwhill Holler posted on YouTube. I really love her channel, and if you enjoy watching cooking channels on YouTube, give a few videos a try! She made hers and I decided that I would try out my red cabbage idea. Most recipes call for white, but then so do most sauerkraut recipes, and we use it anyway.

So I looked up the Ball canning recipe and a few others, and came up with my own combination of veggies and spices. Now, this is where I state that I deviated slightly from the Ball canning directions – so follow mine at your own risk. I am fairly confident that it is fine, since I actually can longer than it says to, but all the same – always err on the side of caution in canning.

The hardest part of this recipe, and the most time consuming, is just cutting up all the vegetables. And finding a bowl big enough to house them all. I have one big wooden bowl that just barely fit it all – but I had to use two colanders to drain the veggies.

I digress….

So you spend a while cutting it all up. I recommend watching some YouTube (watch your fingers) or listening to a podcast. Put it all in a huge bowl. Mix it up with your hands, then sprinkle on the canning salt and mix it up again. Be thorough, because you want that salt everywhere.

Cover the bowl with a large dinner plate and/or plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge for 2-3 hours to let the salt do its thing with the vegetables and get rid of some excess water. I hope your fridge has less stuff in it than mine, or it may become an impromptu fridge clean out moment. Not that I have experience with that….

Once you let those couple hours pass, and subsequently wash out all the gross containers you pulled out of the fridge, you’ll want to drain the liquid that has come off the vegetables. You don’t, however, want to rinse them. Leave that salt there – its all the salt in the dish, so its fine. I had to split my gigantic bowl between two colanders, because I definitely don’t have one large enough for that job.

I let mine sit in the sink and drain while I put the stock pot on the stove and toasted the mustard and celery seed. You’ll want to make sure you stir them constantly, because they will go from fine to uh-oh really fast if you wander off. You’ll know they are toasted when you can see a little color on the mustard seeds, they’ll be fragrant, and the mustard seeds will probably start to pop. Once you get to that point, put in the other spices, the sugar, and last the vinegar. Now, you’re pan is hot. Keep you face away from the pan when you put in the vinegar. Unless you need your sinuses cleared – it will do a great job with that!

Bring it to a boil, reduce your heat and let it simmer for ten minutes, stirring it occasionally to make sure everything dissolves and doesn’t burn. Once its been 10 minutes, dump all your vegetables in, stir, and then bring it back to a simmer. Put the lid on, and let it simmer 20 minutes. Make sure to check on it every so often and stir it so it doesn’t burn.

I recommend getting everything else ready for canning while its going. Get your jars heated (I put mine in the canner while the water is heating) your lids and rings ready to go, and a paper towel for wiping the rims set aside.

When the twenty minutes are up, you’re going to ladle the chow chow into your jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Just get the chow chow in the jars at first, and when you have it all loaded, then go back and add syrup as needed. It might not look like enough, but it will be fine!

This should make about 6 pint jars. Once they are all filled, dip your paper towel in hot water and wipe down the rims, then put on your lids, and then the rings, only making them fingertip tight.

Then you want to process in your water bath canner for 15 minutes. If you are really scared of the canner, you could also put this in the fridge. I’m not sure how long it lasts, because we always eat ours too fast!

Red Cabbage Chow Chow

13 cups chopped cabbage
2 green tomatoes, diced
2 large onions, diced
5 bell peppers (I prefer red, yellow, and/or orange)
1 1/2 tbsp canning salt
1 tbsp yellow mustard seed
2 tsp celery seed
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
2 cloves minced garlic or 2 tsp garlic powder


1. Chop all the vegetables in whatever size you like. Mix in a large mixing bowl, and spread canning salt into the veggies, mixing with your hands to make sure the salt is thoroughly distributed.
2. Cover the bowl with a large plate and cling film and let sit in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
3. Remove vegetables from the fridge, and drain the liquid off, but do not rinse the vegetables.
3. In a large stock pot, toast the mustard and celery seeds briefly. Then add in remaining spices, vinegar, and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer syrup for 10 minutes.
4. After ten minutes, add in your vegetables, and bring to the boil again.
5. Reduce heat, and simmer the vegetables for 20 – 25 minutes.
6. Ladle chow chow into hot jars, leaving 1/2” headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and tighten rings to fingertip tight.
7. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
8. If any jars do not seal, put them in the fridge to enjoy right away.

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