Never say never.
Oh my god, I like beans!
You could knock me over with a stick...I'm just that surprised. I hated vegetables as a kid. Since becoming a rabid CSA member 3 years ago I've had to get creative, figuring out how to cook and eat a lot of vegetables I never tried before. The first two years I barely used the beans; I couldn't make them palatable unless I smothered them in caramelized onions and tomatoes. But I've been getting into pickles lately, so when the dill and string beans ripened at the same time I thought I'd try a classic dilly bean recipe.
Like the patient pickler I am, I waited the requisite 4 weeks, letting the brine mellow and all the different elements blend. Today, as I made myself tomato-cheese toast for lunch (it's all tomatoes all the time these days) I opened a jar, not knowing what to expect. What I got was a light, crunchy, pickled bean, the vinegar brine subtly flavored with dill, garlic, and hot pepper. Oh I think I'm in love.
When I made the dilly beans I planned to give them away in my Christmas baskets. Now I'm pretty sure only my mother will be lucky enough to get a jar. The rest are for me and Michael. And for you, if you'd like to make your own:
Delicious Dilly Beans:
(makes about 4 pints)
2 lbs. fresh green or yellow beans
8 heads of dill
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 dried, hot red peppers
1/4 cup pickling salt (not regular iodized salt)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
Wash and trim the ends off the beans and cut to 4" lengths (to fit in the pint jars). Place beans upright in sterilized jars, packing them tightly. Leave 1/2" head space. Add 2 dill heads, 1 hot pepper, and 2 cloves of garlic to each jar.
In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar, and salt and bring to a boil. When the salt has dissolved, pour the hot brine over the beans. (Remember to leave that 1/2" head space.) Seal the jars, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Let the pickles mature for 4 weeks before tasting. It's worth the wait.
1) Some recipes call for mustard seeds. I love mustard seed but wouldn't use them here. Their taste is so strong it overwhelms a delicious and delicate pickle.
2) When you're trimming the pickles to fit the jars, save all the end pieces and pickle them, too. They'll be bite-sized bits of spicy deliciousness.