When the first frost threatens to wipe out your garden or when you decide to plow under the garden, it’s time to make Chowchow. The best time to make Chowchow, however, is when you want more of this mouthwatering treat. Take out your grandmother’s 5-gallon crock or buy a 5-gallon food-grade plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid from a fast-food restaurant, because this Chowchow recipe is worth trying.
8 to 12 medium heads green cabbage, shredded
2 cups canning salt
1⁄4 cup coarse ground black pepper
2 gallons Heinz white vinegar
8 pounds onion, shredded
6 pounds cucumbers, unpeeled, diced into 1⁄8-inch cubes
1 gallon dill pickles (Vlasic Kosher), reserve and store juice in refrigerator, dice pickles into 1⁄8-inch cubes
3 pounds garlic, chopped
20 to 30 fresh jalapeño peppers, diced (optional to include seeds, which will increase hotness)
40 to 60 plump, fresh serrano peppers, sliced thin
6 ounces dried pequin chiles, half ground and half left whole
6 ounces dried arbol chiles, ground
Place cabbage into 5-gallon crock or 5-gallon food-grade bucket. Pour salt and black pepper evenly on top. Cover with tight-fitting lid. Let sit at room temperature 24 hours. The cabbage will have wilted to 1⁄4 volume.
Boil vinegar and add to cabbage. Stir well. Add onion, cucumbers, dill pickles, garlic, jalapeños, serranos, pequins and arbol chiles. Stir well. Cover with tight lid and let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks. (Optional: Stir occasionally.) Taste to determine if you need to add some of the stored dill pickle juice to the chowchow.
Pack into clean quart jars. Wipe rims of jars with clean, wet cloth. Seal. Process in hot water bath or pressure cooker according to manufacturer’s directions. Yields 15 to 18 quarts.