July 31, 2013

Happiness in a Jar

There are certain things in this world that make me instantly happy.  Canning is one of them.  There's something about taking fresh ingredients that are in season and preserving them for years to come.    Last summer I picked up the book Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan and it has quickly become my canning bible.  I love her funky twists on old classics.  My latest venture is her pickled green beans, also known as Dilly Beans.  It's a simple recipe that can be done in about an hour's time.  

After a trip to the Chattanooga Market, I was able to find a local farmer to buy 3 lbs of fresh picked green beans.  Once back home I got my water bath going and sterilized 6 wide mouth pint jars.  I also filled a small saucepan with water to simmer the lids.  In a third pot, I started the brine by boiling 5 cups of distilled vinegar, 5 cups water and 1/2 cup pickling salt.

Next, I washed and rinsed the beans as well as cut off all the ends.

While my jars finished sterilizing, I got my assembly line of seasonings going that consisted of dill seed (not weed!), cayenne pepper and peeled garlic cloves.

 Now it was time to start the stuffing, so to speak. 

In each jar, add as many green beans that will possibly fit, being careful to make sure you have at least 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.  It may be necessary to cut some of your beans in half in order to fit properly.  Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon dill seed and 1 garlic clove to each jar.

Pour the brine over each of the jars leaving 1/2" headspace.  Using a wooden chopstick, carefully dislodge any air bubbles.  You may need to add a little more brine at this point since the bubbles will most likely take up more space then you realize. 

Push down the beans as they rise to the top and carefully place their respective lids and bands.

Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. 

Beans before and after the water bath

Lastly, revel in the goodness you just created and make sure to let the beans cure for at least 2 weeks before eating.

Bon Appetite!!