My veggie garden has kicked into high gear so with an over abundance of green beans on my hands I’ve been busy making Dilly Beans. If you have never had a dilly bean it is similar to pickles. They go great with sandwiches or added to salads and are easy enough to make if you have some time. If you have never canned before don’t be intimidated. It really isn’t that hard and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you see all those pretty jars filled with yummy goodness lining your shelves is worth the time and effort. The hardest part about making dilly beans is preparing the beans themselves. You need to trim the ends and then you really want to make sure they are all about the same size and length. Then give them a good washing and they are ready to go. Make sure you start with good quality beans, any bruises, insect damage or disease are more likely to lead to food spoilage and bacteria. When you can anything you are heating the food inside the jars which interrupts the natural spoilage cycle. The heat is applied at the right temperature for the right amount of time while it also drives the air out of the jar. When the jars cool the lids will seal forming a vacuum that prevents anything nasty getting inside and ruining all your hard work. You are going to need a boiling-water canner, some pint jars and lids. Other then that no special equipment is needed.
- 2 pounds of good quality green beans
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 1/2 cups of vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, divided
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 heads of dill
Trim the ends off the beans and cut to fit into the jars trying to keep them all about the same size. Combine salt, water and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. The vinegar will give the beans a nice tart taste and will act as a preservative. You want to make sure you use a high-grade cider or white distilled vinegar of 5% acidity. Cider vinegar gives your foods a mellow acid flavor while white vinegar imparts a more pungent sharp taste. I use white vinegar for these because sometimes cider can change the color of the beans.
Pack the beans lengthwise into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Head space is measured from the top of the food or liquid to the inside top of the lid. The jars need to be heated for 10 minutes to prevent them from breaking. You can do this by submerging them in enough water to cover and then bringing them to a simmer. Or you can just wash and dry them on a regular cycle in your dishwasher. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1 clove of garlic and 1 head of dill to each jar.
Ladle hot vinegar over the beans again leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles by placing a rubber spatula inside between the food and the side of the jar pressing against the food to release trapped air. The lids should also be placed in water and simmered for 10 minutes before using. Place heated lids on top of jars and tighten. Make sure your canner is filled half way with water and bring it to a simmer. Place the jars on your canning rack and carefully lower them into the hot water. The water should cover the jars by 1-2 inches. Cover with the canner lid and process the jars for 10 minutes over medium-high heat, bringing the water to a rolling boil. After the processing time is done, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and let the canner cool for 5 minutes before you take out the jars. Remove the jars and place upright on a clean towel to cool.
At this point you will start to hear a popping sound as the lids naturally start to seal. This means you done good kid so give yourself a big old pat on the back. Put your little trophies up on a shelf somewhere so everyone can see your hard work and know what they will be getting for Christmas!!