Monday, November 23, 2009

Starting Over/Dilly Beans

I feel it again, that desperate, clawing need for some sort of creative outlet. The creation of this blog was really my dear friend Chelsea’s idea, who always has my best interests in mind and has always advocated loudly for self expression and productivity. I was out visiting her in Portland in June this year, and one slow, rainy morning we “launched” Sophie Writes, the beautiful cabbage masthead photo having previously been taken at a local flea market near Chelsea’s house. Anyway, I was reluctant to say the least and obviously, due to a sparseness of “posts” since, never really quite got into it. But I want to try, I do. Again. I’m going to try again and I am not going to make lame excuses about how I don’t have anything to talk about, or how I can’t figure out the nuances of blogspot.
So, while I wasn’t writing or posting things this summer let it be known that I was thinking about it. And planning. My mother’s garden had a bumper crop of green beans this summer and I photographed the entire canning process because I was convinced it would be a great blog post. I didn’t do it four months ago but I will bring it to you now…
Dilly Beans.
I am a freak for anything pickled. Something about crispy preserved vegetables submerged in salty, briny, vinegar satisfies my soul. I had a pickled egg for the first time at a bar in Providence recently and it was a revelation. Oh, pickles, pickles, pickles!
The garden this year was sadly not the most productive it has been in the past, despite my parents fierce war on the groundhogs and my mother’s tireless weeding and gentle gardener’s touch. But we got a lot of green beans. We ate as many as we could every day, sautéed them with olive oil and garlic, cut them up and put them in salads, and nibbled on them throughout the lazy afternoons like they were potato chips.
But I knew greater steps had to be taken to preserve these beans, lest they go to waste.
The recipe I used came from A Primer for Pickles: A Reader for Relishes. It’s a very simple process, and because the beans are only slightly cooked during the water bath at the end, they come out being delightfully crisp and crunchy.
4 lbs green beans, whole, (about 4 quarts)
For each pint jar:
¼ tsp. hot red pepper, crushed
½ tsp. mustard seed
1 dill head
I clove garlic
Solution of 5 cups cider vinegar to 5 cups purified water and ½ cups pickling salt (I just use kosher salt)
Make sure you wash the beans thoroughly. Cut into lengths that fill the pint jars. Pack beans into sterilized jars. Add crushed pepper, mustard seed, dill heads, and garlic (blanch garlic in hot water for 1 minute before placing in jar).
Combine vinegar, water, and salt. Heat to boiling. Pour boiling liquid over beans filing to ½ inch of the top of jar. Seal and process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Behold your beautiful jars of Dilly Beans! Marvel at the warm, smooth glass jars full of tasty pickles and feel virtuous when you hear their little lids pop as they seal up for many months. Open them in January and think about sunburns and mowing the lawn.
PS. I entered a jar of these at the Washington County Fair this year. Second place! Not bad…I think I didn’t get first because I could have packed the beans straighter. There is always next year.


  1. awwwww, I miss that kitchen! so exciting to see your post this morning!

  2. hey! cool! I like the blog! this is Andrea.