Pickling is a different animal than canning because it changes the food’s flavor and thus isn’t suited to all foods or palates. Pickling preserves foods by creating an environment hostile to bad bacteria through the high acidity of vinegar and the saline content. In some formulations, the fermentation produced by putting edibles that aid digestion. Devotees of pickling and fermenting insist that these methods offer myriad health benefits, and they are popular among certain circles, such as paleo-diet and raw-food practitioners.
“Dilly beans” are one of our favorite foods, and I often find that my kids have opened a recently prepared jar while I’m still picking plenty of fresh green beans from the garden. Frozen beans can get soggy when cooked, and this recipe is a great way to preserve the bounty’s crispness.
Yield: 3 pounds of pickled beans contained in 1-pint jars.
· Large pot
· Eight 1-pint canning jars/lids
· Optional: Pressure canner
· 3 cups white vinegar
· 3 cups water
· 1/2 cup pickling salt
· 3 pounds green beans
· Approximately 8 generous sprigs of dill leaves (unopened flower heads are pretty also)
· 50-60 whole peppercorns
Bring the water, salt, and vinegar to a boil, and then remove from heat. Set aside. Remove the strings and stem ends from the beans, breaking or cutting them into similar lengths that will fit in the pint jars. Pack the beans into the jars so that the beans are standing up inside the jars. Place at least one sprig of dill in the midst of the standing beans. Drop five to eight peppercorns into each jar. Ladle the salt/vinegar mixture over the beans, covering the beans entirely and filling the jars to their shoulders. Put the lids and rings on the jars.
For a variation on this recipe, you can make basil beans, by putting in sprigs of basil and a clove or two of raw garlic instead of dill and peppercorns before adding the salt/vinegar brine.
Properly pickled foods should not necessitate a boiling-water bath or pressure canning, but I like to use on these methods as “back-up” preservation if I will be storing the jars at room temperature.I process the jars in a pressure canner for ten to fifteen minutes to create the vacuum seal.
This article was excerpted with permission from the book Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff, copyright 2014, I-5 Publishing, LLC. For more budget-friendly and environmentally conscience projects and recipes, pick up a copy today!