String beans are one of my favorite vegetables around. My idea of a perfect easy summer meal is a tangle of lightly steamed string beans, dressed with a bit of butter and salt, along side some scrambled eggs and a sliced tomato. A couple of summers ago, I ate that for dinner three or four times a week for at least a month. Of course, that was before I had to think of Scott’s likes and dislikes when making dinner and sadly, he is a string bean hater. So my perfect little meal has been relegated to a once-in-a-while, solo experience (however, it’s a trade-off I happily make for love).
Thing is, I still find myself buying string beans like they’re a four times a week vegetable, which becomes a problem when trying to keep the refrigerator eco-system balanced. That is where the dilly bean comes in. It’s a gentle, zippy little pickle that preserves my green beans for months to come (well, if they last that long) and maintains the dinnertime peace.
One thing to note about string beans. They are perfectly safe to can in a boiling water bath when you’re making pickles out of them. They are NOT safe to can without the brine unless you’re using a pressure canner. One of the few documented cases of botulism that occurred last year was because a family ate some poorly preserved green beans. So if you want to preserve your beans but you don’t want to pickle them, either get yourself a pressure canner or blanch and freeze them.
Enough safety warnings, on to the recipe…
- 2 pounds green beans, trimmed to fit your jars
- 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5%)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons pickling or fine sea salt
- 4 teaspoons dill seed
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon red chili flake
- 4 cloves garlic
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 4 pint jars. Place 4 lids in a small pot of water and bring to a bare simmer.
- Wash and trim your beans so that they fit in your jar and leave about an inch of headspace. If you have particularly long beans, your best bet is to cut them in half, although by doing so, you do lose the visual appeal of having all the beans standing at attending.
- Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Divide the dill seed, peppercorns, red chili flake, and garlic cloves evenly between the four jars.
- Pack the beans into the jars over the spices.
- Pour the boiling brine over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Gently tap the jars on the counter to loosen any trapped air bubbles. For stubborn air pockets, use a chopstick to wiggle them free.
- Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- Once jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals.
- Sealed jars can be stored on the pantry shelf for up to one year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and eaten promptly.
- These beans want to hang out for a least two weeks before eating, to thoroughly develop their flavor.
Adapted from So Easy to Preserve