The CSA effect (ie, “addiction”) doesn't just end when the produce does. For the two of us it culminated in creating Teeny, and for our friend Steve it led into the world of pickles.
Back story: My grandmother makes the most delicious pickles in the world. Her dilly beans could solve religious conflicts. They could fix a flat tire. Their pucker power could fuel Superman in a multi-galaxy journey. And they've instilled in me a deep love of green beans.
So, Jedd and I were shocked when we were at a party this summer, and our friend Steve mentioned that he and his wife, Erin, had been getting pounds of green beans in their CSA – and that he's not a big fan.
“Not even raw?” Jedd asked. (Jedd will sometimes carry a bag of fresh green beans around, because he eats them like potato chips.)
“Not even as dilly beans?” I asked.
Steve's answer was, no he'd never had them raw and he thought that sounded “kind of weird.” But more surprising was the fact that he'd never had dilly beans. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have had my grandmother's pickles, but it seems like they've become more commonplace in stores over the years.
Flash forward to a party at Jedd's father's house this fall, and a friend of the family brought dilly beans. Jedd, my mother and I happily ate a few, while Steve sniffed one with a mix of suspicion and curiosity. Then when he ate it, his eyes lit up and it wasn't long after that he called and asked for my grandmother's recipe.
And this little post is a congratulations, because he made and canned his first batch this week and they are delicious. I'm serious when I say that dilly beans could create world peace.
Below is my Grammy's recipe – which is similar to many classic pickle recipes in that it includes heating the brine separately - followed by Steve's, which he's laid out to work in small batches for 12 oz. jars. Always the tinkerer, Steve's method combines all ingredients and brings them to a boil in the jars, followed by sealing the lids.
Grammy Barr's Dilly Beans
2 lbs green beans
4 cloves of garlic
2 ½ cups water
¼ cup of salt
1 teaspoon of chili flakes
4 heads of dill
2 ½ cups vinegar (Apple cider)
Pack beans lengthwise into hot jars leaving ¼ inch head space. To each pint add ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 clove garlic, 1 head dill. Combine other ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over beans, seal and process 10 minutes in hot water to seal the jars.
Steve's Dilly Beans
Large Canning Pot
12 oz. Ball or Mason jars
New caps, Old rings
About 20 beans cut in half
A small fist-full* of pickling spice mix
2 tablespoons of Morton's pickling salt
1 clove of garlic, sliced in half
3 small bunches of dill
Equal parts water and regular white vinegar (approx 1.25 cups)
*An even smaller fist-full if you're not 6' tall like Steve.
Combine all ingredients in a jar. Cap and seal the jar, but not too tight.
The key piece of hardware is the large canning pot. This can hold six of these jars lifted off of the cheap aluminum exterior of the pot itself with a coat-hanger-like contraption which elevates the jars enough to keep them from exploding. Genius. (Editor's note: If you're not brave enough to MacGyver the operation, get your hands on a canning rack like this.)
Place the jars in the near boiling water. The level of the water should be only high enough to cover all but the top 1-2 inches of the jars. Watch the ingredients in the jars for movement. When things start rising, like a slow motion boil, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let it sit for 5 minutes then uncover the pot and let sit a few minutes longer. Pull the jars out and place them on a plate or hard surface to cool. By the time they cool enough to pick up, the seal should be set. The lid should no longer pop when you press the center.
(Photo by Launie Kettler)