A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 19, 2007
Chow Chow

Chow chow is a Southern dish of vegetables such as cabbage, onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc. The name comes from pidgen English, and it is believed that “chow chow” was popularized by Chinese workers in California in the 1850s.


TexasBob.com
Chow Chow (Relish)
Some time between late October and early December, depending on whether you live in the far North Panhandle of Texas or somewhere along the Gulf Coast, the first freeze comes to Texas.  The night before when your football knee gets that certain ache go out to the garden and pick all those green tomatoes before Jack Frost picks them for you.  Then you’ll have the main ingredients for this Texas Traditional dish, Chow Chow

TexasBob.com
Chow Chow (Relish)

Grind the following Ingredients:
Green Tomatoes 1 Gallon
Cabbage 1 Gallon
Large Onions 8 Large
Small hot peppers (diced & seeded) 2 to 6
Sweet green peppers (bell) 4 to 6
Red Peppers 4
Sugar ¾ cups
Apples 3

Pour salt over the above ingredients and let sit for 30 minutes.
Put the ingredients listed below in a sauce pan and let come to a boil for a few minutes.  Then pour it all over the ground up ingredients and let all of it cook until good and tender.

White Vinegar 1 ½ pints
Sugar 2½ cups
Allspice 1 tsp.
Dry mustard 1 tsp.
Turmeric 1 tsp.
Lemon juice 2 tbs.

Directions:
Pack in hot jars.  Close jars.  Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes.  Begin counting time as soon as water returns to a boiling.

Texas Monthly: Recipe Swap
Re: Ella’s Chow Chow Recipe
Author: Beach Girl
Date:  01-03-06 08:13

My mother-in-law’s recipe for her Southern Chow-Chow. It’s delicious on cooked collard greens, lima beans or black-eye peas. You’ll find lots of other uses for this tasty condiment. I make a double or triple batch to enjoy throughout the year and give as gifts. These will keep in pantry for 1-2 years.

Ella’s Chow Chow Recipe
Any combination of the following to make 6 quarts of chopped vegetables
2 quarts chopped cabbage (or cabbage & cauliflower)
1 quart chopped green tomatoes
1 pint grated carrots (I prefer California grown)
1 pint chopped green peppers or red peppers
1 quart chopped peeled firm pears (do not ripen)
1 quart chopped onions
1/2 cup canned sliced jalapeno peppers (optional)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
SYRUP
1 quart distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1/2 cup flour (for thickening the sauce) (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons celery seeds
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons dry ground mustard

If you don’t have all the vegetables mentioned, increase the quantity of the vegetables you do have until you have 6 quarts of chopped vegetables.
(However, be sure to use some cabbage, peppers, carrots and onions- the other veggies are optional).
In large pot, stir dry ingredients together, then add liquid ingredients.
Bring all syrup ingredients to a boil and boil until thickened, stirring frequently.
Add chopped vegetables and bring to a boil.
Cook 5 minutes on simmer until vegetables are hot.
Pack into hot, sterilized jars and seal with hot sterilized lids.
Invert and let rest for 2 minutes.
Turn right-side-up and let cool.
When jars are cooled, the lids should be slightly concave which signifies a good canning seal.
NOTE: My mother-in-law never processed them in a water bath, but you may do so for about 30 minutes, if you prefer.

Astray Recipes
Texas chow-chow
Yield: 4 Servings
1 Head green cabbage; Chopped
1 pounds Green tomatoes; chopped
1 pounds Ripe tomatoes; chopped
1 ½ cup Cauliflower florets; (up to 2)
1 large Green bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and chopped
2 teaspoon Crushed Dried Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup Dark brown sugar; packed
2 Onions; Chopped
1 Clove garlic; minced
½ cup Corn kernels
1 ½ teaspoon Ground ginger
¾ teaspoon Ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon Ground cloves
1 tablespoon Ground turmeric
¾ teaspoon Curry powder
¾ teaspoon Celery seed
1 ½ teaspoon Coarse salt
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Dry mustard
1 cup Cider vinegar

Chow-chow is a vegetable relish that is put up at harvest time when an excess of vegetables is on hand. The word is thought to stem from the Chinese who came over to work on the railroads and may be a derivation of the word choy, which is Cantonese for vegetables. Combine all the ingredients from the cabbage through the salt in a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Mix the cornstarch with the mustard and vinegar in a bowl until smooth. Add to vegetable mixture. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Store in a cool place. Yield: 4 pints Formatted by Recipe by: DEAN FEARING #HE1A04 Posted to MC-Recipe Digest V1 #791 by Sue on Sep 19, 1997

Renfro Foods: History
In 1940, with the Depression still a vivid memory, George Renfro took a big risk for a man with a family. He quit his job selling restaurant supplies and condiments. And with little more than sheer determination and the support of his family, George and his wife, Arthurine, co-founded George Renfro Food Company in the garage of their north Fort Worth home. In their new venture, they distributed packaged spices and pepper sauces throughout Fort Worth and the surrounding areas.

With hard work, George Renfro Food Company grew steadily. By 1948, the Renfros expanded the company’s product line, buying a local syrup manufacturer. 

Through the tireless efforts of George, his family and a small sales staff that literally sold goods from the back of a truck, the company’s Dixieland Syrups soon had wide distribution throughout Texas grocery stores. Virtually every Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant purchased the syrup from George Renfro Food Company, approximately 85% of the restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Only four short years after adding syrup to its manufacturing line, George was again looking for his next quality product. This time George and Arthurine acquired the formulas of Gold Star Foods. They reworked the ingredients, making them taste more like family recipes. Before long, George Renfro Food Company had entered the jelly, preserve, vinegar and chow chow business as well.

At the time, few Southerners could imagine eating beans or peas without homemade chow chow, especially during the cold winter months. Realizing they had one of the few commercially made, yet homemade-tasting chow chows available, the Renfros capitalized on public demand and created the popular Dixieland Chow Chow.

Response to the blend of cabbage, bell peppers, sugar, spices and vinegar was so tremendous that, by 1960, George Renfro Food Company had become a one-product business focusing exclusively on Dixieland Chow Chow.

By 1963, company sales had more than quadrupled. The Renfros now distributed their chow chow to nearly every grocery store in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and northern Louisiana.

Wikipedia: Chow-Chow
Chow-chow is a combination of different vegetables: cabbage, carrots, beans, asparagus, cauliflower, and peas which are pickled in a jar and served cold. The name is based on the French word “chou” for cabbage. Chow-chow is regionally associated with Pennsylvania and the southern United States, though the recipes vary greatly. Pennsylvania chow-chow, best known under the Wos-Wit brand, is generally much sweeter than the southern varieties. 

(Oxford English Dictionary)
chow-chow, n. and a.
[According to Col. Yule, ‘pigeon-English’; of uncertain origin.]
n. A mixture or medley of any sort; e.g. mixed pickles or preserves. Also, food of any kind. Ind. and China.
1795 A. ANDERSON Narr. Brit. Embassy China (Gloss.), Chow-chow..victuals or meat. 1850 B. TAYLOR Eldorado xii. (1862) 117 The grave Celestials serve up their chow-chow and curry. 1857 V’CTESS FALKLAND (title), Chow-Chow: a Journal kept in India. 1858 Bombay Q.R. Jan. 100 (Y.) The word chow-chow is suggestive, especially to the Indian reader, of a mixture of things, ‘good, bad, and indifferent’. 1864 HOTTEN Slang Dict. 100 Chow-chow, a mixture, food of any kind.

Making of America
The National Cook Book
By a lady of Philadelphia (Hannah Mary Bouvier Peterson, 1811-1870)
Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers
c1866
Pg. 112:
CHOW CHOW.
Three cabbages,
Twenty-five peppers,
Half a pint of mustard seed,
Three sticks of horse-radish, chipped.

Cut the cabbages as for slaw; chop the peppers very fine. Put in jar a layer of cabbage, a very little salt, then a layer of peppers, sprinkle over this some horse-radish and mustard seed, and so on, till all is in, then fill up the jars with cold vinegar, in every quart of which dissolve two ounces of sugar.

This is very good with hot or cold meat.

Feeding America
Jennie June’s American Cookery Book
by Jane Cunningham Croly
New York: The American News Co.
1870
Pg. 124:
HANDY CHOW CHOW.
Chop together very finely a head of cabbage, six green peppers, six green tomatoes, add two tea-spoonsful of mustard, sufficient salt, vinegar to wet it, and if desired a little cloves and allspice. It is ready then for use and will keep a long time. No better appetizer can be made.

Feeding America
Presbyterian Cook Book
by The First Presbyterian Church
Dayton, Ohio: Oliver Crook
c.1873
Pg. 132:
CHOW-CHOW.
Two dozen large cucumbers sliced; three quarters of a peck of green tomatoes sliced; twelve large peppers (red and green)sliced; one fourth peck of small white onions peeled; one pint of small red peppers. Sprinkle one and one half pints of salt over them and let stand all night. In the morning drain them well; then add one ounce of mace; one ounce of white mustard seed; one half ounce of cloves; one ounce of celery seed; one ounce of turmeric; three tablespoonsful of ground mustard; one large piece of horse-radish cut up; cover all with vinegar and boil half an hour, or until tender.

Feeding America
Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving
by Mary Newton Foote Henderson
New York: Harper & Brothers
1877
Pg. 258:
CHOWCHOW PICKLE (Miss Beltzhoover).
Ingredients: One peck of green tomatoes, half a peck of ripe tomatoes, half a dozen onions, three heads of cabbage, one dozen green peppers, and three red peppers.
Pg. 259:
Chop them any size you choose, then sprinkle half a pint of salt over them. Put them into a coarse cotton bag. Let them drain twenty-four hours. Put them into a ketle, with three pounds of brown sugar, half a tea-cupful of grated horseradish, one table-spoonful each of ground black pepper, ground mustard, white mustard, mace, and celery seed. Cover all with vinegar, and boil till clear.

AFeeding America
What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking
by Abby Fisher
San Francisco: Women’s Co-op Printing Office
1881
Pg. 35:
Chow Chow.
Take one cabbage, a large one, and cut up fine. Put in a large jar or keg, and sprinkle over it thickly one pint of coarse salt. Let it remain in salt twelve hours, then scald the cut-up cabbage with one gallon of boiling vinegar. Cut up two gallons of cucumbers, green or pickled, and add to it; cut in pieces the size of the end of little finger. Then chop very fine two gallons more cucumbers or pickles and add to the above. Seasonings: One pound of brown sugar, one tablespoonful of cayenne pepper, one tablespoonful of black pepper, two gallons of pure wine vinegar, two tablespoonfuls of tumerick, six onions, chopped fine or grated. Then put it on to cook in a large porcelain kettle, with a slow fire, for twelve hours. Stir it occasionally to keep it from burning. You can add more pepper than is here given if you like it hot.

Creole Chow Chow.
One gallon of green tomatoes, sliced thin, half dozen silver skin onions, sliced thein, one gallon wine vinegar, two tea-cups of brown sugar, one tablespoonful of cayenne pepper, one tablespoonful black pepper, one tablespoonful of tumerick. Put the onions and tomatoes together in a keg or jar and sprinkle over them one pint of salt and let it so remain twenty-four hours, then drain (Pg. 36—ed.) all the brine off from them over cullender, then put the vinegar to them and add the seasoning, and put to cook on a slow fire, stir to keep from burning. It will take the whole day to cook; you can make any quantity you want, by doubling the quantity of vegetables and seasonings here prescribed, or if you want a less quantity, lessen the proportion, say half the quantity, then you want a half gallon of tomatoes to begin with, and a half of every thing else needed in this chow chow.

Google Books
Sketches from “Texas Siftings
by Alexander Edwin Sweet and John Armoy Knox
New York: Texas Siftings Publishing Company
1882
Pg. 73:
...tried fried in batter, with tomato sauce; onions; Lima beans; mashed potatoes; squash, and chow-chow.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, February 19, 2007 • Permalink