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…
Pickled Green Beans (aka Dilly Beans)
- 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.
I made the dilly beans recipe from the book, which only called for two and a half cups of distilled white vinegar and no water, and I didn’t have enough brine to cover all four jars. I had to hurry and try to bring a second batch to boil. Is that normal or did I make a mistake?
It was my mistake. Water isn’t listed as an ingredient but it is mentioned in the instructions. So I’m silly and have for pints of beans floating in pure vineagar. Good thing my garden is in overdrive or I’d be super bummed about the waste. Time to dump them I guess.
So sorry to hear that you missed that step!
Making this recipe now. Using 3/4 liter jars. I adjusted the amount of brine. Do I need to process for longer? I’m at sea level.
Yes. Any time you increase the size of the jar beyond a pint, you need to add five minutes to the processing time.
I’m making your bread and butter pickles right now. I want to make dilly beans. The picture you show has the beans even with the top of the jars,is that right or should the beans be shorter than the head space ? Do they need to be covered with the brine ?
You want your beans to be a bit shorter than what you see pictured here. After I took this picture, I trimmed them with a pairing knife. You want the beans to rest about 1/2 inch below the rim of the jar and have them fully submerged in the brine.
I just took a batch of Dilly Beans out of the canner and I realize I nearly doubled the salt. I was planning to double the brine but then my beans only filled 5 pints. Are they ruined? Safety wise? And will they taste horrible? Thanks!
Hi Marisa! I made these yesterday, and some of my beans are floating above the brine by about an eighth of an inch. They were completely covered the beans with the brine before processing, and they were when I took them out of the water bath. I am wondering if they are ok to eat, or if they. Or if they might be dangerous. This is my first time pickling a veggie so sorry for my novice question!
They are totally safe.
Can you pickle beans and not put them in a water bath, to treat them like doing dill pickles?
Beans typically need the heat of the canner to soften the beans a bit. They don’t work as a refrigerator pickle all that well.
Your book lists a 5 minute processing time and the website lists a 10 minute processing time. I just made a huge batch of these following the instructions in the book, are my beans still safe to eat?
They are still safe to eat. I just typically do a 10 minute processing time these days.
Thanks! Second question (sorry, I forgot to add). If I have two jars that have lids that didn’t seal, am I able to replace the lid and re-process in a hot water bath? Or are they doomed to the refrigerator.
Basically I just want to be sure that opening and re-boiling with new lids will still be safe for killing bacteria.
You can reprocess them, but it will impact the finished texture. I’d probably keep them in the fridge and eat them first rather than compromise their texture.
I was wondering if anyone would be able to advise me the shelf life for pickled dilly beans. A few years ago, I had a very abundant year for beans and canned all I could. I found some jars on the shelf from 2012 and they tasted just great. I’m just concerned about giving them away etc. Thanks!!!!
I typically don’t give away food that’s older than 2 years, simply because I fear that other people will worry about its safety and throw it out. However, I find nothing wrong with eating pickles that are 4-5 years old, provided that the seals are good and the color and smell remain unchanged.
I made these last month and opened one of my jars as soon as they had sat for 2 weeks. The opened jar is still in the fridge and has several beans in it. I want to eat them, but are they still safe? They have been in the fridge ever since I first opened then last month.
They should be just fine.
Hi Marisa. I just made these. I used the tall pint jelly jars to fit my tall beans. I actually got 8 jars out of my 2 lbs of beans. The brine was enough for 6 jars, so I made another batch of brine to finish the last two jars. Are my ratios off since I ended up with double the jars ( and half again as many jars for one batch of brine)? Hoping the beans are safe! What do you think?
It’s fine. As long as the brine had the proper ratio, you’re good.
Can I pressure can this recipe? If so, what is the pressure and time?
Hi …can i add white wax beans and garbanzos (chick peas) to this recipe and can i make it sweeter ,like a bean salad maybe with sugar??
It would be better to look for a recipe that is designed for a pickled bean salad than to try and remake this one into the exact thing you want.
Hello! Does the recipe “need” garlic for safety or preservation reasons?
I am … allergic to garlic and onions. No joke. Can this ingredient be left out?
Nope, it doesn’t NEED it. It’s just there for flavor. You can certainly omit it.
Thanks so much!
I noticed in the picture you included fresh dill. Was that just for aesthetics, or should that be used in the recipe?
When I made the batch pictured here, I used fresh dill. However, I came to find that it didn’t hold up as well over time as I wanted, and so changed the recipe to call for dill seeds.
Thank you Marisa. I look forward to trying this out.
I’m excited to try this recipe, as we have a bumper crop of green beans this year and everyone raves about Dilly Beans! I have 2 questions…
We have some ‘heat’ (spicy) sensitive eaters. Will the chili flakes make the beans spicy hot? If so, could I omit them without ruining the flavor?
Also, some of our beans are more fat than I like for regular canned green beans. Would they still be good candidates for pickling, or are thinner beans better? (Blue Lakes)
You can totally omit the chili flakes. And if your fat beans are overripe, pickling them isn’t going to make them more delicious. You’ll just end up with tough dilly beans.
I’ve made (and loved) this recipe several times, and passed it along to friends who’ve asked for it after tasting them! I have a question–is it OK to use romano beans for this recipe?
Yes. Totally fine.
My husband canned my beans for me this year as I was gone caring for my dad. I just now noticed (a month later) that all his beans are above the brine by about a half inch. Are they safe to eat?
They are fine.
Hi There, I made the pickled beans, poured the hot liquid over them. However, there was about 1.5 hours between pouring the hot liquid in there and putting them into the boiling water/canner. They were still warm to the touch when I put them in, and I put them in the water for about 20 min (vs the 10 the recipe asked for). Do you think they are okay?
That is not ok. The jars need to go into the canner hot.
Help! I just realized I made a batch of the dilly beans and forgot to add the water to the brine….it was just straight vinegar (which would explain why I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t enough).
Are the beans that are processed in the straight vinegar/salt brine going to be edible?
They are going to be pretty darn strong. A couple days before you want to eat a jar, I’d open it, pour half the brine out and replace it with water. Let it sit a couple days in the fridge. That should make them more palatable.
Phew. At least they aren’t ruined. Thank you!!!!
One more thought: can I reprocess them with the correct brine mixture, or will that make the pickles soggy?
That will kill their texture. I’d leave them as-is and doctor before eating.
Thank you so much for your help!
I would love to make this recipe but can them in 1l jars. What would be the change to the processing time??
Add five minutes.
I’ve made this recipe a few times and love it. However, every time, I lose one jar by breakage when I put it into the water. How do you maintain the heat of the jar? I feel like the time it takes to fill them decreases the heat from sterilization.., maybe letting the brine cool too much? Too full? Any thoughts would be appreciated!
It sounds like you either need to reduce the temperature of your canning pot, or you need to fill the jars one by one. The issue here is that the jars are too cool and the water is too hot.
A few questions…is it okay to use small beans? Does that effect the texture at all? I just put up a batch using small beans after doing a prior batch with bigger beans where i found it difficult to trim and place in jars. Also, per your photo it looks like the beans go above the 1/2 inch headspace recommendation. Maybe I’m trimming way too much?? Does it need to be exact? What if a piece of beans is sticking up past the headspace?
It’s fine to use small beans. And I trimmed those beans down after taking the pictures.
Hi- I followed the recipe but the brine only made enough for 3 pint jars not 4, as the recipe calls for. I’m nervous about trying to recalculate the brine for just one jar?!
What should I do?
I’m so sorry that it didn’t yield enough. Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt. Heat and pour over veg.
Great recipes and I saved so many. It would be great if the Print version included a picture of the dish and not an ad 🙂
I am working on moving to a different recipe card plugin that I hope will resolve that issue.
I finished dilly beans last night and had left the ‘curly cues’ on them for aesthetics and so they’re easy to grab and pull out. The tips are above the brine level in the jars. They all seem to have sealed correctly. Are they still safe or should I store all of them in the refrigerator?
It’s fine to have those curly cues sticking out of the brine. As long as the seals are strong, there is no reason to refrigerate those jars.