Great Green Tomato Relish, aka Chow Chow Recipe

You know how when you’re outdoors, everything tastes better? It happened to me again while on an upland bird hunt with Kansas Ringneck Classic president, Jim Millensifer. While there, I discovered the exquisite taste of green tomato relish after a particularly grueling morning of hunting the Sandhills of Nebraska. Jim’s wife, Laurie, is a great cook and canner, and he brought along a jar of her green tomato relish, aka chow chow. Jim combined this delectable condiment with deli turkey meat on a flour tortilla for a quick tailgate lunchtime meal.  

Nebraska road
Nebraska road

We met to accomplish a Nebraska Upland Slam, which is a cool way to appeal to upland hunters and get them to contribute to Nebraska’s game agency’s coffers. During this quest, a hunter must shoot a sharp-tailed grouse, greater prairie-chicken, ring-necked pheasant and northern bobwhite quail in Nebraska. After proving success afield, that hunter will receive an official certificate and Nebraska Upland Slam pin. All hunters who complete the upland slam this season will be registered to win one of several prizes, courtesy of Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. Let’s just say, out of the three of us, Jim was the only one to take home the slam prize.

walking upland slam nebraska
Jim Millensifer and my husband take off to trek another CRP area.

Memories of traversing the hilly, sandy country of western Nebraska with a lean, mean hunting machine (Jim) will stay with me for a long time, if not forever. It was fun and wild and exhausting. I got a blister on my big toe that equaled the size of my toe.

Whenever I make this recipe, courtesy of Laurie and her tweaks to an original newspaper recipe, I think of that time and I can almost feel the wind in my face and see grass bending, all golden and signaling that fall would flourish for only a while longer.

green tomatoes
We buy our tomatoes locally and were so fortunate that they had green tomatoes this late in the season. As you can see, by the time we got around to making the relish, some had begun to change to red.

Here’s that recipe. I’m not sure if it will conjure up memories right away, but you could always include it on your tailgating excursions – whether outdoors or in stadium parking lots – and make your own memories. Besides, it’s a great way to use up end-of-the-season tomatoes, too.

Photos from the Great Green Tomato Relish Experience

dicing tomatoes

First, you have to acquire and wash all the veggies. Then, start dicing. You might want to use a food processor, and the recipe calls for cutting up the veggies any size. Just remember, they will cook down.

salt and peppers

Here’s what happens when you “a-salt” veggies. Leave this mixture to sit all night long.

stirring a pot of green tomato relish

The next day, or after eight hours (whichever comes first), stir in the liquids and spices after draining the veggies and salt.

hot chow chow

It’s starting to come together and smells divine and clears your sinuses, too — especially if you use hot peppers!

pouring hot tomato relish

Here’s Capt. Jacks getting the hot relish into warm jars. Then, we placed lids and rings on the jars and inserted a few at a time into the Ball Freshtech water bath canner, located behind her on the counter by the sink. It’s super handy, because it has a pour spout so you can immediately release too much water from the pot.

canned chow chow green tomato relish

And there you have it. We did four times the amount of veggies so that we can enjoy at least four times the amount of chow chow. So far, it’s graced our breakfast burritos and a pork roast. I’m hoping to take it afield during deer season (probably with tortillas and turkey).

Thanks to Jim and Laurie Millensifer for sending us this recipe!

Yield: 7 pints

Great Green Tomato Relish, aka Chow Chow Recipe

featured green tomato relish

This is an all-around delicious condiment or relish to add to many dishes.

Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes


  • 4 cups peppers (sweet, hot, green, red, yellow, whatever)
  • 4 cups green tomatoes (or add tomatillos)
  • 4 cups onions
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. celery seed
  • 1 Tsp. turmeric


  1. Chop, dice or grind peppers, tomatoes and onions to your liking.
  2. Add 1/2 cup pickling salt.
  3. Combine veggies with salt and let sit overnight (at least 8 hours).
  4. Thoroughly rinse and drain veggie mixutre.
  5. Combine veggies in large pot with sugar, cider vinegar, water, celery seed and turmeric.
  6. Bring mixture to a boil.
  7. Boil gently for 5 minutes.
  8. Ladle into warm pint jars.
  9. Process in water bath for 15 minutes on slow rolling boil.
  10. Remove and allow to cool for at least 24 hours before moving.

Side Note

Jim Millinsifer with Mia, Sage and Zoe
Jim Millinsifer with Mia, Sage and Zoe

Seriously, this dude is a hunting machine and he always has trusty dogs at his side. Unfortunately, Sage died of cancer the following year. Jim wrote a lovely obituary for her and we ran it here at The WON.

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at


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