Preserving snap beans in a savory brine is a fun and delicious alternative to freezing them. Pickle at least some of your harvest, and come mid-winter, you'll be glad you did! Homemade dilly beans are also a welcome holiday gift, making a nice foil to the sweets that abound at that time of year.
This recipe makes 7 pints.
4 pounds green beans
7 one-pint canning jars and tops
7 teaspoons mustard seed
7 heads of dill
7 garlic cloves, peeled
1-3/4 teaspoons crushed dried hot red pepper
5 cups vinegar
5 cups water
1/2 cup salt
Wash and trim the beans, cutting them to fit upright into the canning jars. Dunk the jars in boiling water and pack the beans snugly into the hot jars.
For each pint, add one teaspoon of whole mustard seed, one head of dill, one clove of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed hot red pepper.
Combine the vinegar and water in a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Pour the hot brine over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Run a table knife around the inside edge of the jars to remove trapped air. Adjust the lids and place the jars on a rack in a large kettle. Fill the kettle with enough boiling water to cover the jars with two inches of water. Cover the kettle, return the water to a rolling boil, then boil for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the kettle and let them cool. Store in a cool place for 2 weeks to develop full flavor. The vinegar in this recipe raises the beans' acidity to a level that makes pressure canning unnecessary.