Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crunchy pickled goodness

I had never had these before trying my hand at making them out of sheer curiosity, so started out with one jar and waited impatiently for the recommend 3-week-period to pass before cracking them open.  Instantly in love, I whipped up 4 more jars yesterday.  They take so little time, and are a great way to take advantage of summer's green bean bounty.  I wish I could say I used beans from our own garden, but alas our gardening efforts seem to result in either charitable contributions to the local wildlife or flat-out failure.  Maybe next year...

One note about the recipe: I like to trim all the beans to about the same size so they stand up neatly in the jars, which means I end up with a lot of smaller pieces which I then cook up for dinner, etc.   If you were to cut them all up into smaller pieces, you'd have less "waste" so wouldn't need to buy as much.  I've put two pounds as the amount in the recipe but there could be some pretty significant variance depending on your preferences.

Pickled green beans (makes 4 pints)
2 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
Spices - I use mustard seed, dill seed, peppercorns, and sometimes a garlic clove in each jar
4 wide-mouth pint-sized jars with 2-piece lids

Make sure your jars are clean and sanitized, and lids are in very hot water to soften.  Pour spices into the bottoms.  In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water and salt and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, trim the green beans to fit the jars, or just cut them into desired lengths and pack into the jars.  Personally I'm a little OCD and like them all the exact same length, standing up like little soldiers.

When the brine is boiling, pour over the green beans to within 1/4 inch of the jar tops.  Release any air bubbles and add more brine as needed to maintain a 1/4 inch headspace.  Screw on the lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Then try your best not to dig into them for at least three weeks!

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