Amish Chow Chow Canning Recipe
What is Amish chow chow (PA Dutch chow chow)? Amish chow chow is a traditional pickled relish commonly made and enjoyed by the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish communities. It's made with various beans, vegetables, and a sweet and tangy dressing.
It is simply a pickled vegetable mix. So if you love pickled food, this might be something you would enjoy.
The vegetables used in chow-chow typically include green beans, lima beans, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, corn, or other seasonal vegetables.
It is often served as a side dish or condiment to accompany main meals and is especially popular during the late summer and early fall when fresh vegetables are abundant.
Where Did Its Name Come From?
Chow chow's origins are widely debated. It is a dish that is very common with the PA Dutch, but it seems that many Southerners also have a variation of this pickled relish called chowchow.
And when I tried to do some research as to where the name originated, I got plenty of mixed information.
"Chow chow" is believed by some to have originated from the Chinese term for "mixed pickles," which is fitting since this relish is a medley of various vegetables. And one definition for the word chowchow in Webster's dictionary is "a relish of chopped mixed pickles in mustard sauce".
Others believe that the modern name "Chowchow" came from the French-speaking Acadian settlers in Louisiana. They believe the term "chow" is related to the French word "chou," which can mean cabbage.
So the dish's true origins are a topic of much debate. But what we do know, is that chow chow is popular with both the PA Dutch and Southerners, although you will find that there can be quite a difference in the recipes.
As with PA Dutch chow chow, there is no fixed recipe, and variations can be found based on regional preferences and family traditions. But canning this relish is a wonderful way to use up surplus vegetables, prevent waste, and preserve the flavors of the season for enjoyment throughout the year.
A Dog Breed and a Pickled Vegetable Relish with the Same Name?
Many of you are probably familiar with the chow chow breed of dog. And if you google this term, that's probably what it will pull up for you, unless you place the word recipe behind it.
So why do we have a dog breed and a pickled relish with the same name? There are theories about where the dog breed name came from. But while both the dog breed and the pickled relish share the name "chow chow," there is no direct connection between them in terms of their origins or purposes. The name was likely coincidental and might have been adopted independently for each. Over time, the term "chow chow" simply came to represent these two distinct things in different contexts.
Canning Amish Chow Chow
As many of you know, Amish ladies do a lot of canning. Many of them plant huge gardens full of many different vegetables, berries, etc. And all summer and fall they are busy canning and preserving all kinds of sauces, relishes, soups, pickles, vegetables, fruit, etc.
I grew up Amish, and my mom planted about everything possible to grow in our area. We literally canned hundreds of jars of food and filled our freezers to the brim. (I was New Order Amish. We had electricity. So yes, we had large deep freezers in our basement.)
We were busy preserving food all summer long, and sometimes I got sick of it! But we kept at it because everyone was expected to do their share of the work in providing for the family's needs. And we did not dare to complain about it either.
So, canning chow chow was on my mom's to-do list every summer. Most times we made chow chow closer to the end of the season, with the remaining bits of vegetables. It's a good way to use up every bit of fresh vegetables when there really aren't enough to do much else with.
And we canned LOTS of Amish chowchow because my dad loved the stuff. He ate it as a side dish with almost any meal. Some of the rest of us ate some too, but I think it was mainly my dad that went through many jars of it.
I honestly never really cared for chow chow. And even now, it certainly isn't something I crave. It's ok, and I'll eat a bit now and then. But you have to really like pickled vegetables to love this stuff :).
I didn't think I would bother posting this recipe since I wasn't feeling like making it for myself. But I know that some of you love chow chow and may be looking for a good Amish recipe. So this one is strictly for you. 🙂 You're welcome!
Can I Use Different Vegetables and Beans?
Yes, you most certainly can. This recipe is simply a basic guideline. So feel free to adjust the vegetables and beans to create something that you will enjoy. Some people like to add cauliflower (I added a bit), cucumbers, onions, cabbage, potatoes, etc. My mom even added cantaloupe chunks and the white part of watermelon rind.
There is no right or wrong combination of vegetables and beans to use for this recipe. And you can use veggies fresh from the garden, or use already canned or frozen veggies.
You can also feel free to adjust the ingredients for the brine. Honestly, the recipe I was following asked for 5 cups of sugar. I used 4 1/2 cups and it's still too sweet for me. I would enjoy it a lot more with less sugar. So in the recipe below, I cut back on the amount of sugar. But you can feel free to adjust it as you wish. And if you love very sweet pickled things, maybe you'll want to add more than my recommended amount.
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How to Can PA Dutch Chow Chow
Gather all the vegetables and beans that you want to include. Wash and prepare them as you would for cooking, then cut them into bite-sized chunks/slices. Cook the vegetables separately in a bit of water until tender, but not completely soft, or they will end up mushy.
You may want to start with the celery as it takes longer to cook. And if you are using dried beans, you will need to give them adequate time to cook as well. (I used canned beans.)
Drain all the vegetables and mix them in a bowl. Fill sterile jars, but don't pack them too tightly. You want to allow enough room for plenty of the brine to find its way among the vegetables.
Mix the brine/pickling ingredients in a cooking pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Fill each jar with the hot liquid (using a funnel helps to prevent spills), and wipe the rims with a clean wet cloth. Place the lids and bands on the jars, tightening just enough with your fingers, ensuring a snug yet comfortable seal.
Fill a canner with water and bring it to boiling. Place the hot jars of chow chow into the canner. Cover and bring it back to boiling. Boil for 5 minutes. Then lift the rack of jars and let it rest on the edge of the canner for a few minutes before removing them with canning tongs. Place the jars onto a heat-proof surface and do not disturb them for 24 hours.
Make sure they have a good seal and store the jars in a dry, cool place for up to a year or two.
And, of course, always be careful when handling boiling liquids to ensure safety and prevent accidents!
New to Canning
If this is your first time canning, I would, first of all, like to congratulate you for embarking on this journey of preserving food. It takes energy and dedication to grow your food and preserve it.
But it is not hard. And it gives a very rewarding feeling of accomplishment to line shelves with jars of food that you know will help provide for your family over the winter months.
But before you begin, I'd like to encourage you to do a bit of research and learn some basics about canning.
I hope that at least some of you enjoy chow chow and will try this recipe. If you do, I'd love it if you left a comment and star rating below.
Amish Chow Chow Recipe
- 2 c. celery, chopped (approx. 4-5 ribs)
- 2 c. green and red sweet peppers, chopped
- 2 c. carrots, sliced
- 1 c. whole kernel sweet corn
- 3 c. cut green beans (or a mixture of green and yellow beans)
- 2 c. lima beans
- 2 c. red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 c. navy beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 1/2 c. water
- 2 1/2 c. vinegar
- 4 - 4 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds
- 1 Tbsp. celery seeds
- 1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
- 2 tsp. salt
- Wash, chop, and prepare the veggies. Cook them separately in a bit of water until tender, but NOT SOFT, or they will get mushy. Drain and put them into a large bowl.2 c. celery, chopped (approx. 4-5 ribs), 2 c. green and red sweet peppers, chopped, 2 c. carrots, sliced, 1 c. whole kernel sweet corn, 3 c. cut green beans (or a mixture of green and yellow beans), 2 c. lima beans
- Add the rinsed and drained beans. Gently mix all of the ingredients.1 c. navy beans, rinsed and drained, 2 c. red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- Loosely fill sterile jars with the chow chow mixture.
- Pour the hot brine into the jars, leaving a little bit of headspace.
- Wipe the rims with a clean cloth. Place the lids and bands on top and fingertip tighten to secure the lid.
- Cold pack in boiling water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars, place on a heat-proof surface and do not disturb for 24 hours.
- Make sure they have a good seal, and store the jars in a cool, dry place for up to a year or two.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a cooking pot. Bring it to a rolling boil, then fill the jars with the hot liquid.2 1/2 c. water, 2 1/2 c. vinegar, 4 - 4 1/2 c. sugar, 2 Tbsp. mustard seeds, 1 Tbsp. celery seeds, 1 Tbsp. turmeric powder, 2 tsp. salt