Emily Jane's Chow Chow

Kathy Brooks

The fondest memories I have of my grandmother, Emily Jane Murphy, were of food preparation and her garden.  She loved to cook vegetables from her garden, make pies from my grandfather’s fruit trees, and then watch people eat and enjoy her meals.  Grandmother would always read to us from the Bible.  One of her favorite sayings was “waste not, want not.” 

My grandmother’s house was located about a mile from where I lived as a child, in the Range community of Carter County, Tennessee.  I would stop at her house every day on my way home from school just to have one of her homemade biscuits with her homemade jams.  Sometimes, on a cold day, she might have a pot of soup beans cooking.  To really make those soup beans special, she would top them off with her homemade chow chow, and the food warmer in her cook stove always had cornbread for sopping all the juices.

6 cups sugar
4 cups onions
1 cup salt (non iodized)
6 cups green peppers
2 cups water
12 cups red peppers
4 cups cider vinegar
6 cups green tomatoes
1 tablespoon celery seed
10 cups cabbage
1½ tablespoons turmeric
Hot peppers to taste
2 tablespoons mustard seed

Hand-chop all the vegetables. Put sugar, salt, water, and vinegar in a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil  Put spices in a cheesecloth bag and place in boiling water.  Return to a rolling boil.  Add vegetables, turn down heat, and bring to another boil.  Boil 3 minutes and then dip relish into prepared sterilized jars.  Tighten lids securely, cover jars with a heavy towel, and let set overnight.