Walking around the farmers market during summer is temptation at its finest. The season's bounty offers an array of colorful fruits and veggies to choose from. But beyond tomatoes for crisp salads and blackberries for desserts and jams, there is one underdog that you musn't forget before summer fades to fall: green beans.
Green beans are frequently relegated to the status of side dish for weeknight dinners, in casseroles, coleslaws and more. But the bright green veggie really shines when it's pickled. Pickling is an activity that everyone should add to their summer bucket list, especially if you have a garden that exploded with green beans or your CSA box gave you more produce than you know what to do with. The process can extend the shelf life of food by fermenting it in a vinegar solution.
Using the ingredients below, you can pickle just about anything from cucumbers to okra, but this recipe recommends using green beans. While most green bean varieties can be used for pickling, stringless options like Contender or Blue Lake are recommended. The pickling process itself is quite simple. After you make the pickling mixture, which is usually a combination of vinegar, fresh dill, garlic and canning salt (salt without iodine), just ladle it into green bean-packed mason jars.
The green beans should be kept in the fridge for about two to three weeks before using them (a long time, we know). But once they're done, you'll have an acidic, bright and earthy pickled veggie that's great to add to Bloody Marys, coleslaws and our favorite potato salad recipes for cookouts, picnics and more.
This recipe is by Gene Fisher of Baltimore, Maryland, and was originally published in The Baltimore Sun.
Step 1: Snap 3 pounds green beans to lengths that fit your jars, leaving about 1 inch of space between the beans and the lids.
Step 2: Sterilize the jars, lids and bands in very hot water, leaving them in the water until ready to pack.
Step 3: In a saucepan, add 3 cups distilled white vinegar, 2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup canning salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
Step 4: Remove the jars from the hot water and in the bottom of each jar drop a slice of garlic, a sprig of dill and a dash of red pepper flakes, if using.
Step 5: Pack the green beans tightly into the jars. Take your time and pack them as full as possible. They will shrink some as they pickle.
Step 6: Ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars, leaving 1 inch of space at the top of the jar. After filling, take care to wipe the rims of the jars completely clean, as any foreign matter will cause the jars not to seal properly.
Step 7: Place the lids on the jars and screw the bands on finger-tight.
Step 8: Place the jars on the canning rack in the boiler. Fill boiler with hot water, making sure the jars are completely covered so the water reaches 1-inch higher than the jars. Bring to a boil and hold at the boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel to cool. Take care to keep them out of any draft or breeze, as this could cause the jars to crack.
Step 9: Store jars at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks to allow the beans to pickle.