May 27, 2011 by Sara Kreidler
Oh, dilly beans! I really don’t know how I made it through most of my life without knowing how freaking amazing dilly beans are; triumph of the human spirit, I suppose. I first had this most wonderful of all pickles about 2 years ago at Toby’s aunt’s house, and I pretty much stole the jar off of the table and ate the whole thing. Because, you know, I’m classy like that.
I purchased Canning for a New Generation a few months ago, and was thrilled to find a recipe for dilly beans. The recipe in the book is actually for properly canning the beans in a water bath, but since I only had about 1 pound of beans and I figured it would only yield 3 pint jars and that I would easily scarf those down in about a week, it didn’t seem worth the trouble to actually can the pickles for shelf storage. So, I adapted the recipe to make 3 pints of refrigerator dilly beans, which means that the beans are not shelf stable but are fine to keep in the fridge for a good long while. The “good long while” part is pretty moot, though, since I did in fact eat all three jars in less than a week.
If you’re looking for a recipe for canned (shelf stable) dilly beans, look here.
Adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Lianna Krissoff
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 sprigs fresh dill or 6 teaspoons of dill seeds
- 6 cloves garlic
- 6 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound crisp green beans, ends trimmed
- First, cut the beans to fit in the jars. You can either cut the beans about 4 1/2 inches long so that they will stand upright in the pint jars (which looks really pretty), or you can just snap them in half and pack them into the jars willy nilly, which isn’t as pretty looking but does use more of the bean. The finished product will taste the same either way, so it’s really a matter of your aesthetic preference.
- Wash and rinse 3 pint jars in scalding hot water. Fill each jar with scalding water and leave on the counter while you prepare the brine.
- In a medium pot, combine the vinegar, water and salt. Bring brine to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.
- Dump the hot water out of the jars. Put 2 sprigs of dill, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 teaspoons of chile flakes in each hot jar (if you don’t want spicy dilly beans, you can reduce or eliminate the chile flakes). Pack the beans into the jars. Using a wide mouth canning funnel, ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top of each jar. Note, DO NOT hold the jar while you ladle in the brine – this is a really stupid idea and will likely result in you scalding the sh*t out of your thumb and then hopping around the kitchen yowling, and then having to finish making the pickles with only one good hand because the other hand is wrapped up in a dirty dish towel underneath which is your kids’ boo-boo buddy which was thankfully in the freezer. To avoid such injuries, don’t be a dumbass – place the jars on the counter, and then ladle in the brine.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel. You can either cap the jar with the regular flat metal lid and ring combo, or you can use reusable plastic lids (see notes below about where to find plastic lids). If using plastic lids, wait about 5 minutes for the jars to cool slightly before screwing on the lids.
- Throw a dish towel over the jars and let them cool on the counter (Toby’s mom taught me to cover my jars with a towel when we pickled beets last year – I do not know why this step is needed, but she said that it is, and I do not question her expertise). Once the jars are fairly cool, put them in the fridge and do not disturb for 24 hours.
- My metal lids “popped,” but it’s not necessary for that to happen since you’re going to keep them in the fridge. Even if the lids do pop, these are not shelf stable because they weren’t canned in a water bath, so they must be kept in the fridge.
- Because these are refrigerator pickles (and are not processed in the canner), you can use reusable plastic lids instead of the metal lid/ring combo. I prefer the plastic lids for refrigerator pickles simply because it means that I don’t waste a flat metal lid, but either metal or plastic lids will work just fine for refrigerator pickles. I had a hard time finding the plastic lids in stores, but I finally found them in both regular and wide mouth on amazon and have been very pleased with them.
- The “put them in the fridge and do not disturb for 24 hours” part is hard. Seriously. I read that it’s best to give them a week in the fridge to marinate before cracking open the can, but I could barely wait 24 hours. After 24 hours they were pretty awesome – very crunchy (they cook a little in the boiling brine, but they are still very crisp) and salty and spicy. The original recipe calls for using whole dried red chiles in addition to the chile flakes, but I didn’t have any whole chiles on hand so I only used the flakes. Next time, though, I will try it with the whole chiles, because I like these pickles spicy.