When the green beans start rolling in, it's time to make some Dilly Beans, aka pickled green beans. I know, you're a bit skeptical about these. I was too the first time my friend Jess told me to come over and we'd can pickled beans. However, I love pickles so I was game. They are delicious! The Young'uns love them even more than I do, I think. They can go through a quart of these things faster than Brett Farve can come out of retirement. So far this year, 8 quarts of Dilly Beans have been put into the pantry. I'll post a photo as soon as my camera's battery gets charged up again.
I also freeze some of our green beans for eating in the winter. I don't can plain green beans because I'd need to use a pressure cooker for those and, I'm a big pressure cooking chicken. Those things still scare me a bit. (FYI- the reason you don't need a pressure cooker to can pickled items or tomato products is that those things are very acidic. Plain green beans or corn or carrots aren't acidic and need the pressure cooker.)
4 lb. green beans
8 dried red peppers or 8 t cayenne pepper
8 heads of dill or 8 t dill seed
1/2 c pickling salt
8-16 peeled garlic cloves
6 c water
3 c vinegar
Wash beans and trim off ends. We only trim off the end that was connected to the plant. Heat water, salt and vinegar to boiling in large pot. Meanwhile, get your clean jars hot and assemble the garlic, dill and peppers together. When brine is boiling well, take hot jar add 1-2 garlic cloves, head or tsp of dill, and red pepper or cayenne. Pack beans into the jar. You can pack them in pretty tight. Just make sure you have about 1/4 inch head space between tops of the beans and the top of the jar. Pour water/vinegar brine over beans again, leaving about 1/4 inch of head space. Use a spatula to get out any air bubbles, wipe rim, put on lid and process in water bath for about 10 minutes.
You can use either pints or quart jars for this. If you use pints, it should make about 8 jars. Quarts will give you about 4 jars. If you have long beans and are making pints, you'll need to cut them in half when you are trimming them so they'll fit in the jars.
These are pretty spicy. In fact, around our house they are called Spicy Beans. If you''re not a big fan of spice, leave out the hot pepper or cut in it half. They'll still taste great! Dill seeds work just as well as dill heads, but dill heads are prettier in the jars. Red peppers also look better in the jars than cayenne powder.
Let them stand for 2-3 weeks before eating them to give the flavors some time to mingle.
As far as canning goes, I'm not going to get into the specifics. If you'd like to learn to can, give me a call and come over. Otherwise, there are lots of great sites online which can teach you how to can. One to try is here. I'll just say, it's much easier than you think it is. :)