Green Tomato Chow – A Maritime Favourite

Earlier this week I made Chow at my cousins’ place. My cousin John has been making chow for about ten years now, and I have been the lucky recipient of several jars over the past years since I’ve moved to Nova Scotia. I love it, and have always wanted to know the special formula. This is the first year that I’ve finally had time to participate. It was also a good refresher for me of the whole canning process, as it has been a while since I’ve done it.

The recipe is adapted from Preserves (Company’s Coming) by Jean Paré

Pros: It can be made with local ingredients in this climate, and is a great way to use up those tomatoes that didn’t ripen. Cons: Like many preserves, it is choc full of white sugar.

Also note that you have to start it the night before because the tomatoes and onions have to marinate in the salt overnight.

Green Tomato Chow – A Maritime Favourite

Yield: 6 x 500 ml jars


  • 6 lb green tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 lb onions
  • 1/3 cup coarse pickling salt
  • 3 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 tbsp mixed pickling spice
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups pickling vinegar (7%)


  1. Slice the onions and tomatoes to about 3mm and cut off the ugly brown bits where the stem was. We cut them in half and used the slicing disc on the food processor, which saved a lot of time.
  2. Layer the onions, tomatoes and salt in a big pot, cover, and let stand overnight. Here they are freshly salted and settled overnight. They volume is reduced quite a bit.
  3. Drain. We put the mix in a colander in batches and hand-pressed out the excess liquid.
  4. Return to the pot. Add sugar, turmeric and vinegar.
  5. Add the pickling spice in a separate, porous container, such as a double layer of cheesecloth or a couple of tea balls. John has a nifty device from Lee Valley Tools that is like a giant tea ball.
  6. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered 2 hours, stirring occasionally. While the chow was cooking, we started to heat the water and jars in the canning pot because it takes a long time to heat up. Nearing the end of the cooking time, we heated the jar lids in a smaller pot.
  7. Then we took out the hot jars, filled them up, wiped around the rims, put the lids on. Then the jars go back in the canner and boil for 10 minutes. Then carefully take them out and let them cool.


Enjoy your chow on anything you would put relish on. . .and lots of other things. I like to put it in rice paper salad rolls, on mashed potatoes, on bread, as a salad dressing. . . .use your imagination.

Also a note about the spices. We used Club House Pickling Spice, which could probably be approximated with locally-grown spices, for the most part. It contains: mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, dill seed, fenugreek, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, red pepper, black pepper and cloves.

Club House Pickling Spice



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10 Responses

  1. Sharon Sullivan says:

    Looks delicious! I’m sure you will enjoy your chow!

  2. Charles says:

    Excellent text and photos, both for the chow & the mushrooms. It all looks very good, however I won’t be picking mushrooms in the fields anytime soon.

  3. jasmine says:

    You just forgot to tell us when to add the vinegar in your recipe..thanks

  4. Allison Oldendorp says:

    I am intrigued by the recipe, and will try it! I harvested a lot of green tomatoes before the frost we just had and heard from my eastern friend about ‘chow chow’. Not sure where the other commenters found the mushrooms?! And it seems like adding the vinegar should be instictual/commom sense (stage #5).

  5. Ruth Wortman says:

    I’m from Nova Scotia and this was a staple at our table. For a more up to date , less salt version, my mother would drain then rinse one time and drain again before continuing and only cook until the tomatoes were soft. This yields a more chunky chow and the onions retain a bit of crunch.

  6. edhawco says:

    Pro tip (regarding the missing vinegar step): if you make a mistake in the recipe and it’s pointed out in the comments, it’s useful to readers to correct the mistake in the actual post and not just in the comments. Just sayin’ 😉

  7. Paul says:

    Can anyone tell me when the green tomatoes for chow making will arrive in Halifax Nova Scotia this year?

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