Pickle Relish (It works with zucchini too!)

I live near Chicago. I wasn’t born here; I transplanted in 1992 when I arrived for a year-long job and then just sort of…never left. I felt comfortable here, like I fit in pretty well, and there wasn’t a lot of culture shock.

However, for those who don’t know–the Chicago Style Hot Dog is a very important part of this city’s culture.  It’s a wildly improbable mix of very specific toppings…you can research it yourself at the Hot Dog Chicago Style website, from which I also got this photo.

The most remarkable thing about these hot dogs is the color of the sweet pickle relish that is de riguer on any true Chicago Style Hot Dog. It’s this improbable shade of green referred to variously as “kryptonite green” or “neon green” or “nuclear green”…most bizarre.  I love Chicago dogs, I love pickle relish, but I just can’t eat that stuff.

So I make my own. I just finished a batch of lovely sweet relish cobbled together from a bunch of different recipes. It really does taste similar to commercial sweet relish, but…just different and wonderful enough that I’ve come to prefer it.  So, as we approach this barbecue-heavy weekend, I thought I’d share my sweet pickle relish recipe.

Sweet Pickle Relish (for home canning)

Start with about 5 cups chopped, diced, and/or grated vegetables.  Cucumbers are of course traditional for the main event, but zucchini works just fine too. (Note: if you use zukes or cukes, after grating them sprinkle them with salt and let them sit and drain for a few hours. That way you get rid of some of the moisture.) I go with about 3-3.5 cups cukes/zukes–1 monster zuke did it for me, 1 medium onion, 1 medium bell pepper, and a couple of carrots. Doesn’t really matter much.

In a non-reactive saucepan, bring to boil 1 cup white vinegar with 1 1/4 cups sugar. Some people substitute brown for white for the last 1/4 cup, but that’s up to you. Stir till sugar dissolves.


  • vegetables
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seed
  • 1 tbs salt

Bring back to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Into each  of 4 or 5 sterilized half pint jars, drop two cloves. Fill with relish and process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes.

Holiday weekend or not, this will taste best if you let it sit for a month or so before opening it. (Yeah, I know, I should have made this in late July!) But even opening it sooner it’ll still be yummy.

Happy Labor Day weekend!


Posted on August 30, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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