What is Hyden Relish?

Emily Sheperis

Hyden Salad Relish

I grew up in a pretty southern home. We have that one cookbook that grammy never lets you touch because it’s been passed down for so long (I won’t be getting this book till I’m old). One night I was asking my family if there was a recipe that they knew I could do a research topic on that predates the 20th century. So my Grammy and I came across this vile looking relish in Grans cookbook and decided that this would be my topic.

My mom started to recall a time where she would go over to Grans house and they would spend all day making this relish. My great grandmother and father lived on a farm for some time. My great grandfather was the farm manager of the Scotland Plantation in Beulah, Mississippi. Along with tending for the farm itself there was also this huge garden full of vegetables and fruit. The women in my family would tend to the garden and prepare dinners and such. Towards the end of the growing season, my Gran would collect whatever was left out in the garden and make a Hyden relish with it. My mom called it Heinz relish, and didn’t realize she was wrong until we pulled out the recipe. When my mom and relatives would collect the peas and beans, they would all gather around with a bowl in their lap, socialize and catch up while shelling. This was a tradition that has been in the family for generations.

I tried finding out the reason my Gran called her relish “Hyden” and not the more common name “Chow-Chow” and came up empty handed. I couldn’t find a single recipe that was called “Hyden Relish” but I did find one almost identical called “Hayden Relish”. In the end it is basically the same relish.

 Hyden Relish or Chow Chow relish is a type of condiment that has a long and interesting history. It is a mixture of pickled vegetables, such as green tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cabbage, that are combined with spices and vinegar to create a tangy, flavorful condiment.

The origins of chow chow relish can be traced back to the early 1800s in the United States. It was a popular condiment in the southern states, particularly in the Appalachian region. At this time, chow chow was often made by farmers who wanted to preserve the excess vegetables from their gardens. They would pickle the vegetables in vinegar and spices to create a long-lasting condiment that could be enjoyed throughout the year. As chow chow relish gained popularity, it began to spread beyond the southern states and became a popular condiment throughout the country. It was often served alongside meats and vegetables as a way to add flavor and tang to a dish.

In the 20th century, chow chow relish became even more popular as canning and preserving techniques improved. This made it easier for people to make and store chow chow relish at home, and it became a staple in many American households. Today, chow chow relish is still a popular condiment in the United States, and it is enjoyed by people of all ages. It is often used as a topping for hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches, and it is also a common ingredient in many dishes, such as coleslaw and potato salad.

By “sweet pepper” my Gran is referring to bell peppers. These peppers originated in central America, Mexico, south america and have been dated over 6,500 years ago. They mainly thrive in hot climates so they were a southern garden staple. There wasn’t as much hype for bell peppers as there was for hot peppers. The main uses of Bell Peppers in the 18th century was for pickling or seasoning. In the recipe, These peppers are another way to bring up the flavor of the relish from being too tart

History of Canning

Now, The preservation of this relish, at least in my Grans time period, is an interesting one. I have never heard of personally canning something in my home. But home canning was a hot commodity back in her day and I wanted to incorporate that process into my research.

Conventional Canning is a method of preserving food by storing it in jars that are hermetically sealed and sterilized by heat. This process was introduced by Nicolas Appert. He started out experimenting with preservation in the late 18th century. He believed that air is what led to food spoilage and most of his experiments dealt with the removal of it. He later figured out that it was heat and not air that would keep the food from spoiling. Even 50 years later he discovered that heat was killing microbes that would spoil food; not air. It was practically a mystery for a while as to why this method worked so well. Gail Borden took the idea of glass canning and instead made a tin can that could do the same thing. He was the first person to use the tin can method of preservation in the US and he produced canned sweetened condensed milk. Although nowadays canned foods are one of the cheapest things you can buy in a store, something you can buy in bulk, this was not the case in this time period. These cans were handmade and took a long time to make, so they were expensive. Not everyone could indulge in the awesomeness of preserving their foods. You couldn’t even open cans efficiently for another 40 years when the can opener was invented! The first canning factory in America opened up in 1812 and they canned peas. Not too long after did another company start manufacturing glass jars for at home canning, which became popular during the first world war. The industrialization of canned foods grew high in demand because we needed to be able to feed soldiers in a more efficient way. Artists who made posters for the war included the idea of preservation in their posters.

Canned goods were popular because it was the newest form of preserving food for a longer period of time. The need for canning foods grew until around 1945 when in-home refrigeration was more accessible. But even though there was refrigeration, families like mine that lived on farms practiced more of home-canning than refrigerating. Although we don’t uphold this tradition anymore, it is because we really don’t need to. My grandfather also chimed in and recalled that he remembered the first time he had a freezer. The implementation of it made canning not an instant neccesity anymore.

In summary, chow chow/Hyden relish  is a tasty condiment with a rich history that has been enjoyed by people for generations. Its unique blend of pickled vegetables and spices has made it a staple in American cuisine and a beloved condiment for many people around the country.


Sweet Peppers:

Hayden Salad Recipe:


Information on Chow Chow Relish:



History of Canning:




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