Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dilly Beans

Sour, sweet, tangy, crunchy, dilly - these pickled beans are amazing! There is nothing quite like a good pickle, whether you are talking cucumbers, beans, beets, capers, the list goes on. Growing up, every summer my family made a big batch of bread and butter pickles.  It was always a fun activity, measuring out all the spices, prepping the different veggies, filling up the canning jars; just good times spent with family. When I met K, he introduced me to dilly beans which are much more difficult to find than your average pickles.  Remembering my experiences making the bread and butter pickles, I told him that we could make our own dilly beans and can them ourselves.  I am sure he probably looked at me skeptically but we gave it a try and we have been doing it almost every summer since then.

The first year, I did a bunch of research on how to can properly and what equipment to have. We have slowly been increasing our canning tools collection over the years.  This summer was the first year we had one of those massive canning pots, but it made the whole process a bit easier.  Canning jars are pretty easy to find at stores like Target or online and they are relatively inexpensive. Once you have them, you can reuse the jars and rings every year. You just need to purchase new lids each time, so that your cans seal properly.  A pair of canning tongs is a definite must as well.  Be sure to sterilize everything in boiling water to make sure you don't have any funky micro-yuckies that will cause bacteria in your finished cans.  I know the process of canning can be a bit overwhelming but it is pretty simple once you give it a try. I am certainly not an expert, but the method I describe in the directions has been working really well for us over the years.  These dilly beans are absolutely worth the little bit of effort; they are so delicious and a huge hit at parties.  I think the secret to these beans is starting out with raw beans and not blanching them before the canning process. The beans cook just enough while they are processing to take the raw edge off but still be nice and crunchy.  I hope you give this recipe a go, everybody loves to try a dilly bean!

Dilly Beans

Makes ~7 pints

2 lbs green/yellow beans
4 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
2/3 cup white sugar
½ cup pickling salt (can also use sea salt or kosher salt)
1 tbsp peppercorns
2 tsp celery seed
14 sprigs of fresh dill
7 cloves of garlic

Snap the ends off all of the cleaned beans and make sure they fit inside the canning jar. Mix together the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a large pot and bring to a simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved.   Fill the sterilized canning jars with the fresh beans and really try to pack them in tightly. Evenly distribute the dill, garlic, peppercorns, and celery seeds throughout the jars. Ladle the pickling solution into the jars leaving about 1/4 inch headroom (air space) at the top of each jar. Place the lid (make sure you use new, unused lids so they will seal) on the jar and screw the ring on just finger tight.

Process the cans in boiling water for 15 minutes.  This means submerging the cans in a large pot of already boiling water. Make sure the water comes about 1 inch above the top of the cans.  I would recommend putting a rack or a small towel at the bottom of the pan and resting the jars on top of this while they are processing. This helps keep the bottom of the jars from getting too hot against the direct heat of the pot. Carefully use tongs to remove the jars from the boiling water and let cool on a wire rack overnight.

Once cooled, make sure the center spot on each lid can no longer be depressed with your finger. If use can still push this spot it means your jars did not properly seal and the beans will not stay fresh in the jars.  The dilly beans are best if you let them pickle for at least 2 weeks before opening. If done correctly, these jars should keep at least several months in a cool, dark place. Once you open a jar, they can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, if they last that long! 



  1. Yum! I also like your point about "funky micro-yuckies."

    1. Thanks! I am very technical when it comes to that kind of stuff, ya know :)

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