It’s Canning Season! Dilly Beans!

I’m not a canning expert. That needed to be disclosed first. I’m always afraid I’m going to accidentally can something with a high pH balance and kill all of my friends and family with botulism. Still, I do my best. It’s actually one of my favorite hobbies (canning, not killing people). And it’s finally canning season again!

When it comes to pickles – use what’s in season, since it will cost the least and yield the best results. I was at my favorite grocery store this week. Widest variety, cheapest produce of all time. Even though it’s a bit early for them, they had these gorgeous green beans for $.69/pound. K. I bought two pounds, knowing exactly where all of them would end up. As dilly beans in my summer weekend bloodies.

Is there any reason to drink a Bloody Mary if it’s not packed with pickles, questionable beef sticks, cheese cubes, maybe even a tiny hamburger? No. And in my opinion, dilly beans should be a necessity in every bloody.

Before we get started, you really do need a water bath canner plus canning kit for this. This is the one I have. Nothing fancy, $32, but it’s a great investment. I suppose with small batches (1-3 pints or so), you could use a large pot and put a steaming basket in there, as long as it allows your cans to sit upright. Honestly, that is way more trouble than it’s worth. canningbook

This is the fantastic book from Liana Krissoff that I based the Dilly Beans recipe from. If you have any interest in canning, and you’re terrified of things like pectin powder and citric acid like I am, get this book.

These dilly beans, as previously stated, pair well with a packed-to-the-brim bloody. They also pair well with grilled cheese and a sense of accomplishment.

Dilly Beans!

Makes 4-5 pints

What you need:

-2 lbs crisp green beans
-4 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
-4 cups water
-3 tbsp pure kosher salt
-4-5 sprigs fresh dill
-4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
-8-10 dried hot red chiles
-4-5 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

What you do:

1.  Prepare your water-bath canner and jars. To sterilize the jars, just put them (without lids/rings) in the canner, submerged so they are at least 1-inch underneath the water. Boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and keep the jars submerged so they are kept warm (this will prevent them from cracking as we pour the hot vinegar/water mixture into them later). Put the flat lids in a heat proof bowl.

2. Trim the ends of your green beans, and make sure they are no longer than 4-4.5 inches long. Portion out your dill, garlic, hot chiles and red pepper flakes so they are evenly distributed and ready to be added quickly to your jars. Set aside.

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3. Combine vinegar, water and salt in a 6-8 quart pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt. Allow to boil for just 30 seconds, and turn off heat. While waiting for vinegar mixture to boil, ladle hot water from the water-bath canner into the bowl with the lids to sterilize them.

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3. Working quickly, divide the green beans among your jars, keeping them upright. Then add 1 sprig dill, 1 clove garlic, 2 chiles and 1 tsp red pepper flakes to each jar.

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4. Pour vinegar mixture into jars (a wide-mouth funnel helps), leaving about 1/2 inch of space from the top. Use a wet paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars clean, then, using your magnetic lid lifter, remove the flat lids from the bowl and place them on your jars. Put the rings on, just tight enough to keep the flat lids in place, but not so tight that air won’t be able to escape in the water bath.

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5. Place jars in the water-bath canner, and bring water to a low boil/simmer. Process for 10 minutes, then remove your cans with your jar lifter and place on a towel to cool, undisturbed, for 12 hours. Check that the lids have sealed after 1 hour, by pressing down on the center. If it can be pushed down, refrigerate immediately (this means the seal did not hold, and bacteria can get in).

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6. Label your sealed jars and store (wherever, but a cool pantry is always your best bet). With a proper seal, these can technically stay fresh, unopened for years on end. Once you’ve opened them, they’ll stay good in the fridge for a couple of weeks… If you don’t eat them in one sitting.

dillybeans5

This is the BEST time for canning, since it’s still just cool enough that I’m not dying from heat stroke standing over the hot water-bath canner. Don’t be afraid to try it out! Plus, pickles are cool, but jams are even better. More on that later. Now treat yourself to a bloody for all your hard (eh, not really) work.

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