The word pickles probably conjures an image of small cucumbers in brine or other pickling solution. But so many foods can be pickled — including green beans. This recipe for Dilly Beans, or Pickled Green Beans with Dill Weed, is a lovely way to preserve summer’s green bean harvest for enjoying all year.
The beans came in fast this summer. One day my kids and I were checking their progress and commenting on the nibbled leaves that bugs had gotten to, and the next there were long green beans waiting to be plucked from their vines. Or that’s how it felt, at least.
Suddenly, we had quarts of green beans. What could we possibly do with them all? (Eating is absolutely an option … but there are only so many green beans that can be consumed in a single week.)
In the past, I have frozen green beans to good results. But this year I wanted to try something different. Dilly Beans, which are pickled green beans with dill weed, are similar to dill pickles except instead of cucumbers, green beans are used. Combined with garlic, dill, mustard seed, salt and a vinegar-water mixture, the green beans transform into a brightly flavored, acidic delight.
If you’ve never made pickles or Dilly Beans before, it’s important that you 1) use the vinegar — it’s what preserves them 2) process them in the water bath canner for long enough and 3) let them sit for a few weeks before opening them. That allows the flavors to develop.
As the beans sit in the vinegar mixture, the flavor will develop and change (and so will the color). The beans will, however, maintain their crispness. They are really delightful to bite into.
Of course, my kids wanted to eat all the Dilly Beans I made right away. But this is something worth saving and savoring. In the coming months, as Maine descends into its darkest months where sunlight is a rare commodity, these beans will help remind us that someday, somehow summer will return.
- 1 1/4 lbs fresh green beans
- 6 cloves garlic
- 12 springs dill (or more)
- 3/4 tsp whole mustard seed (divided)
- kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 6 half-pint canning jars or 3 pint canning jars or some combination of the two
- Heat a canning pot or a large stock pot with water to boiling.
- While the water is heating, prepare the beans. Wash and trim the beans. For half-pint jars, I also cut them in half. Pack the beans into the jars. Add 1 clove of garlic to each half-pint (2 to pint jars) and 2 sprigs of dill (4 to pint jars). Add 1/8 tsp mustard seed to each half-pint jar (1/4 to pint jars) and top each half-pint jar with 1/2 tsp salt (use 3/4 tsp in the pint jar). Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, combine the vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Pour into the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Cover and seal.
- Carefully add the jars to the boiling water. Process for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and allow to cool completely before tightening the lids and storing.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.