This tangy relish from Nova Scotia native Florence Jackson makes use of shoulder-season produce. Serve it alongside meat and fish dishes to add a bright note of sweetness. While chow chow can be used immediately, consider making it ahead or canning a few jars as its flavor improves with time. If you still have tomatoes left from the harvest, be sure to check out all of our tomato recipes.

Featured in: “The Underexplored Roots of Black Cooking in Nova Scotia.”

What You Will Need

Green Tomato Chow-Chow Green Tomato Chow Chow
Florence Jackson, the author’s grandmother and a Nova Scotia native, made use of shoulder-­season produce to prepare this tangy relish. It is often served with meat and fish dishes, where it adds a bright note of sweetness. While chow-chow can be used immediately, its flavor improves with time. Consider making a large batch and putting it up in properly sterilized canning jars to last through the winter months.
Yield: makes 2 Cups
Time: 7 hours, 10 minutes


  • 1 14 lb. green (unripened) tomatoes, cored and finely chopped (3 cups)
  • 13 lb. yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 14 cup finely chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 14 tsp. brown mustard seed
  • 14 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole clove
  • 12 small cinnamon stick
  • Pinch ground cardamom
  • Pinch powdered ginger
  • 23 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. sugar


  1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and salt. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand at room temperature for at least 6 hours, and up to overnight.
  2. Set a fine mesh strainer over the sink and drain the tomato mixture, gently pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the liquid.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the mustard seeds, coriander, allspice berries, black peppercorns, bay leaf, clove, cinnamon stick, cardamom, and ginger. Transfer the mixture to a sachet made from a double layer of cheesecloth, and tie to seal.
  4. Transfer the tomato mixture to a medium pot. Add the vinegar, sugars, and the spice sachet, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the chow-chow has reduced to a fragrant, dry relish, 40–50 minutes. Chill, then serve immediately, or refrigerate in a covered jar for up to one month.