Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Make Farmer's Market Dilly Beans

This weekend at the farmer's market I was on a mission to find fresh, organic green beans. They are in season, after all, and it's been a long time coming to finally make some dilly beans. If you haven't had the pleasure of eating one, they are, in a word- awesome. My husband, Dino, hates green beans, but he fully enjoys them once they are pickled.

At $4/pound, I bought green and wax beans for a dollar cheaper than what I have seen them priced for at Whole Foods and they are local to boot. To top it off, we also came across a heirloom garlic variety, Music. (Check out what they look like @LivLifeGranola on Twitter.)

With the vegetable portion of the recipe out of the way, I could now focus on the vinegar. A while back I had heard that non-organic white distilled vinegar was made using corn. So before I was going to dump potential GMO's all over my beautiful organic produce some sleuthing needed to be done.

Of course Heinz's website offered no answers to this, even on their FAQ page, so I called their customer service. The woman I talked to at Heinz asserted that the company does not use any genetically modified seed for the corn used to make their vinegar. When I asked why this wasn't stated on their label, she replied that legally they don't have to. What?! Legally they don't have to put it on their labels if there ARE genetically modified organisms on the label. If companies are paying the premium to use non-GMO ingredients, then they are more likely than not putting that on their packaging.

The organic wdv on the right is Whole Foods' 365 brand at $3.39 for 64 oz. The Heinz bottle on the left is $3.25 (Costco)  for 1.32 gallon. Heinz manufactures more than 7.5 million gallons of vinegar yearly in the U.S. alone. Let's remember that 80% of corn grown in the U.S is genetically modified. Now, my math skills are poor at best but even to me these numbers do not add up. I'll leave it up to you what you want to believe. Finally, on to the recipe...

For the supplies I went to Walmart and bought a canning pot ($19.97), jar-lift ($2.97) and a magnetic lid-lift ($ .97).

The recipe is from Marisa at Food in Jars off of Yummly. I liked how she used apple cider vinegar to make her brine as it was the only organic vinegar I had at the time.

It is important to follow ALL the instructions to properly preserve the beans. You do not want any nasty bacteria growing in your food jars. The vinegar/water ratio should not be messed with either for this reason. Each vegetable and fruit will have different rules for canning for water baths and pressure canning. Please follow those specific directions for your own safety.


2 lbs green beans, rinsed (I used a mix of green and wax.)
2 1/2 cups filtered water
2 1/2 cups organic apple cider vinegar or organic white distilled vinegar
2 tbsp sea salt
4 tsp dill seed (I used dried.)
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp red chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, smashed (The Music variety were so large I actually only used two cut in half- and I LOVE garlic.)

Before you start, sterilize 4 quart-size mason jars in the dishwasher and leave there until ready to use. To sanitize the lids (not the bands), simmer in a pot on the stove for 5 minutes and leave until ready to use. Start the brine by bringing the water, vinegar and sea salt to a boil. At the same time start heating the water in the canning pot.

Cut the green beans to size to fit your quart jars. You want about an inch of head space. Don't throw out the bean ends! Use them to make bone broth.

Take the warm mason jars out of the dishwasher and put the following spices in each jar: 1 tsp dill seed, 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 1/4 tsp red chili flakes and 1 smashed garlic clove. Stuff the green beans into the jars on top of the spices. Don't worry if they are packed in tight. Pour the boiling brine equally into the four jars leaving an half-inch head space.

Run a small rubber spatula around the inside of the jar to get rid of any air bubbles.  Wipe the top and threads of the jar with a clean damp cloth. Using the magnetic stick, remove the lids from the hot water and place on the jars. Screw on the bands to keep the lids in place but do not over-tighten.

Place the jars on the rack in the canning pot and carefully lower into the boiling water. I say carefully for obvious reasons but also because my idiot-self, in my excitement, accidentally knocked over a jar and in the process of trying to right it, stuck my fingers into the boiling water. So, I don't have a picture of the jars in the canner. I apologize, to you... and my fingers, but mostly to you, of course.

Leave the jars in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Have a towel ready to place the jars on after the 10 minutes. The jar-lifter is great because it fits the neck of the mason jars perfectly. Let completely cool on the towel before checking the seals. You should be able to hear the pings shortly after you take them out of the water bath. Check the seals by gently pressing on the middle. If it springs back up, the jar didn't seal and you will want to put it in the fridge and eat right away. To store, take the bands off the jars and label with at least the date. You will want to let the beans pickle for at least two weeks and then enjoy them within the year.

Yummm. The next two weeks are going to take for-ev-er!

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