A dilly of a bean

May 20, 2016

Pretty looking things, aren't they?

Pretty looking things, aren’t they?

Consider the humble green bean.

I grew up on ’em, simmered long and slow in a saucepan on the back of the stove, with a piece of salt pork for seasoning, or, if it was pot-luck Sunday at church, in a three-bean salad. Helped snap and string hundreds of bushels of ’em during my childhood. Learned, after I grew up and got away from home, to enjoy them in other preparations, like barely sauteed with some soy sauce and a little sugar; steamed until they were just barely crisp-tender and then dressed with a little butter and some tarragon, or in a salad Nicoise, which is not one of my huge favorites but is certainly OK.

More recently, I have learned to can them in a light vinegar solution, so’s to be able to water-bath them instead of pressure canning them, and I’ve learned to stick them in the oven with soy sauce, brown sugar, crumbled bacon and mustard.

And now I have made a pickled green bean.

Back in the winter, the daughter of a friend asked me if I could make dilly beans.  She had bought a jar at a farm where she’d taken her kids to a pumpkin patch. “Well, I don’t know,” I replied. “But I suspect if I had a recipe, I could.”

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, first farmers’ market of the season. The Amish farmers had green beans, no doubt started in the hoop house so they would bear early. And I bought some.

And didn’t cook them. And they were still hanging about in the fridge, a week later, and I had not been in the mood for green beans. So I decided to see what I could find in the dilly beans recipe department in my premier source for recipes, the Interwebs.

Y’all, the internet is seriously the best thing going for learning more about whatever your chosen interest is. I mean, I’ve got a gazillion cookbooks, but 75 percent of what I cook comes from online. And I’ve got at least two gazillion recipes saved in my “I’m gonna cook this someday” file.

Anyway, I found this recipe. And I made two pint jars of the pickled beans, just to let Leah taste them and see if they’re up to her specifications. If they are, we’ll make a bunch this summer.

Making them is simple enough. After you sterilize your jars in the dishwasher, you put the dry spices — dill, mustard seed, garlic, red pepper — in each jar. I didn’t have dill seed, but did have dried dill fronds, and I figured that’d do. I didn’t have fresh garlic, so I figured garlic powder would do. And I added some salt because, well, I figured one ought to.

Then one packs the beans in the jar. I used wide-mouth pints and cut the beans just about the right length to fit inside, for ease of packing. These were Blue Lakes, the early, fairly straight variety, and most of them just about as long as a pint jar is tall. Because they don’t need stringing, I just lopped off the ends, which also let me get them more or less uniform length.

Then I made up a solution of half and half vinegar and water, and poured over them. Since I was just doing two jars, I just mixed a cup of water and a cup of white vinegar in a four-cup measuring cup, nuked it to boiling in the microwave, and poured it over. Put the lids on and processed them in a water bath for 15 minutes.

I popped a can open today and tasted them. Mixed reviews. The preponderant tastes are red pepper and vinegar. I didn’t get much dill taste at all, nor mustard. I could get a bit of garlic, and I thought it either needed more salt or leave the salt out and go with some sugar for a sweet-hot. Decidedly a nice crunch to them, though. I think I can work on the seasoning and get them there.

If you ‘n y’mama ‘n’ em have a recipe for dilly beans, I’d appreciate you sending it along. It’ll be easier than exeperimenting.




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