Neon Green Relish

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Last week, Paul in Portland, Oregon sent in an email asking for a recipe for neon green relish like they serve on hot dogs in Chicago.

Neon green pickle relish is the closest thing to regular sweet pickle relish you can find in grocery stores. It is one of the essential ingredients of an authentic Chicago-style Hot Dog. Originally known as piccalilli, the neon green color wasn’t introduced until the late 1960s or early ’70s.  Neon relish isn’t just different in the color. It’s actually tangier, crisper and just an all around better relish than your basic grocery store sweet pickle relish.

After some hunting, we were able to find a recipe that is pretty close. However, if it’s not to your liking, Paul, Amazon (and most grocery stores, at least in the Midwest) sells the classic Vienna® Chicago-Style pickle relish.


28 ounces cucumbers, seeded and finely chopped (see note)
14 ounces chopped white onion
7 ounces chopped red pepper
7 ounces chopped green pepper
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
5 cups (40 ounces) water
25 ounces sugar
1 7/8 cups (15 ounces) white vinegar
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
4 tablespoons corn starch
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) water
A couple of drops of green food coloring to get the authentic neon green coloring

To make your own neon green relish, put all the chopped ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle salt on top and mix together.  Then cover with 5 cups water and leave overnight.

In the morning drain, rinse and drain again. Press to get as much juice out as possible.

In a large pot combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed and mustard seed. Bring to a boil; add chopped ingredients back to mixture, return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Mix corn starch with 4 tablespoons water. Add to mixture gradually to thicken slowly.

If you want an authentic looking Chicago neon green relish, add the food coloring. Pour into prepared jars and seal.

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