Monday, October 8, 2012

Dilly Beans

I thought I'd missed my chance for posting this since beans are generally considered a summer vegetable. But my good friend is growing a fall garden this year and one of the things she's got is beans. Not to mention the fact that if I hadn't neglected my poor bean plants a month ago, they might still be producing as they currently have some huge granddaddy pods just hanging there chastising me for my neglect.

So whether you've got beans this year or next, here's a simple, tasty way to preserve them that doesn't require a pressure cooker. The other thing I love about them is that they're pretty easy, even with canning. You just boil the vinegar/water mixture and then pour it over the beans and then process them with their sealy lids and rings for 10 minutes. I didn't have tons of beans and so I only did 2 pints, but it just wasn't a big deal to do so few. I liked that because the canning all day thing and I, we don't really get along.

Dilly beans, in case you don't know, are pretty much pickles. Except they're beans. Whoa. The great thing about this is that beans are firmer than cucumbers and so it's a lot easier to avoid having floppy dilly beans than it is to avoid having floppy pickles. These are delightful because they are firm with some crunch, but not quite as firm as a raw bean would be. In texture they're everything I wish an acidified little vegetable to be. Which brings me to the big note of this post: These are pretty vinegar-y. They have to be if you're going to avoid using the pressure cooker because they have to be acidic enough so that you will not die of botulism. Dying of botulism is not the way to go.  However, I realize that so much kick might turn some of you off. If this is you, you might try reducing the vinegar by half and just keeping them in the refrigerator (not for two years or anything, people, but you'll have several weeks to enjoy them).

Dilly Beans
adapted from the Ball Blue Book
makes about 4 pints
Cost: if the beans are from your garden, it's nearly free

2 pounds green beans
1/4 C salt
2 1/2 C water
2 1/2 C vinegar (I just used plain distilled, but you could get fancy and use white wine or cider vinegar)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (I took it easy on this and didn't use nearly that much)
4 cloves garlic
4 heads dill (if you don't have hoards of dill threatening to take over your garden like I do, you can sub 4 tspwhole dill seeds instead--something like this  DILL SEED WHOLE FRESHLY PACKED IN LARGE JARS, spices, herbs, seasonings )

Thoroughly wash beans and trim green beans and cut into inch-long pieces if you wish (I didn't unless I had to jam a few more in).

Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepot and bring to boil.

While you're waiting for your stuff to boil, pack the beans lengthwise into a hot or warm jar, leaving 1/2 inch head space. To each jar, add 1/4 tsp cayenne (or less if you're weak like me), 1 clove garlic (peeled and crushed just a bit), and 1 head dill (or 1 tsp dill seeds).

Pour the hot liquid over beans and spices, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles if you have any. Put your sealing lid on and then the screw on lid.

Put jars in water (that covers the jars by at least 2 inches) and bring it to boiling. Boil (process) for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool.


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