Chow-chow (food)

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Chow-chow (also spelled chowchow or chow chow) is a North American pickled relish.[1] Its ingredients vary considerably, depending on whether it is the "Northern" (primarily Pennsylvanian) or "Southern" variety, as well as separate (and likely the original) Canadian variety, prevalent in the Maritimes. The former is made from a combination of vegetables, mainly green and red tomatoes, onions, carrots, beans of various types, asparagus, cauliflower and peas. The latter is entirely or almost entirely cabbage. These ingredients are pickled in a canning jar. After preserving, chow-chow is served cold, often as a condiment or relish.

The origin of the term "chow-chow" is obscure. The term "chow-chow" is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "piccalilli" (an English version of Indian-style pickles).

Some[who?] believe that chow-chow found its way to the southern United States during the expulsion of the Acadian people from Nova Scotia and their settlement in Louisiana. It is eaten by itself or as a condiment on fish cakes, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, pinto beans, hot dogs, hamburgers and other foods. Others cite a connection to relish recipes of Chinese rail workers in the 1800s and Indian chutneys.[2]

It has also been suggested that the name "chow-chow" is rooted in the French word chou for cabbage.

Chow-chow has become regionally associated with the southern United States, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, the Appalachian Mountains, and the Maritime provinces of Canada.[citation needed] The recipes vary greatly; some varieties are sweeter than others. Pennsylvania chow-chow, known by the Wos-Wit brand, is generally much sweeter than the southern varieties.[citation needed]

In Nepal and some other Asian countries, chow chow can refer to instant noodles.

See also[edit]

  • Mixed pickle – Pickles made from a variety of vegetables mixed in the same pickling process
  • Chutney – Condiments associated with South Asian cuisine made from a highly variable mixture of spices, vegetables, or fruit
  • Piccalilli – A relish of chopped pickled vegetables and spices
  • Branston pickle
  • South Asian pickles
  • Giardiniera – An Italian relish of pickled vegetables in vinegar or oil
  • List of pickled foods – List of links to Wikipedia articles on pickled foods


  1. ^ Skrabec, Q.R. (2009). H.J. Heinz: A Biography. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7864-5332-0. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  2. ^ The Mountain Laurel, "Southern Sweet Chow-Chow Relish"

External links[edit]