The biggest revelation for me this summer has been dilly beans. I had never tried making them at home, and I was delighted with my first batch. The second time I made them I had to make a double recipe. I could eat a whole jar by myself. They are great for snacking, but they really complement things like fried fish and fried chicken, or anything with a lot of fat. The crisp, spicy, and tangy taste cuts through the heaviness of fried foods and refreshes your palate. Plus, they are super easy to make. The most time-consuming part will be trimming the beans.
(makes 4 pints)
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
• 2 pounds green beans, I used a mix of yellow, green, and purple
• 1 ½ cup water
• 1 ½ cup white vinegar
• ¼ cup pickling salt
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 4 teaspoons dill seed
• 4 garlic cloves
• fresh dill leaves, but preferably a bunch of flowering dill tops
1. Trim the green beans so that they fit in your jars.
2. Prepare the jars , lids, and rings. Run the jars through the hot water cycle in the dishwasher and keep warm, or submerge in simmering water. Remove from the dishwasher/simmering water just before you are ready to pack them.
3. Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
4. To each jar add: 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, 1 teaspoon dill seed, 1 garlic clove, and a few flowering dill tops. Pack the trimmed beans into the hot jars. Add the vinegar mixture, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims, put on the lids and rings (just finger tight, do not over tighten), and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
5. Allow the beans to pickle for a few weeks before consuming and for best flavor.