Saturday, August 04, 2007

The onslaught

The produce is starting to flood in from my garden. After this week's heat, there were four huge zucchini to greet me when I went over to my garden (which is located in my Mother-in-law's backyard since she has direct sunlight and our yard has lots of shade). I swear they were tiny when I last checked them four days earlier. I have a promising recipe for chocolate zucchini cake which might mean I can actually sneak some zucchini into the small people (it looks especially good for using up the huge zucchini that might be too spongy for sauteeing--the recipe calls for 3 cups shredded). They are too suspicious to eat zucchini bread, but the cocoa powder should cover up any green flecks in the cake.

There were also more beans in my garden than we could easily consume in a meal or two, so I decided to take the opportunity to make some Dilly Beans.

What? You have never heard of Dilly Beans? I don't know where my mom got the recipe, but I remember munching my way through a whole jar of these when I was 8 years old and a bit of a salt fiend. They are semi-crisp, sour, salty, spicy, long pickles without any of the potential excessive slipperiness factor that homemade cucumber pickles sometimes fall into. Dilly Beans are great along side a good sandwich or laid out in a bowl for snacking with beer. I also am looking forward to trying them in a martini instead of an olive--I think the little kick they have will be a nice complement to the gin.

One could conceivably can these things with a real hot water process so they are shelf stable. I'm way to lazy for that, so I just make enough to store in the fridge.
Here are my beans, packed and ready for their hot vinegar salt brine.

The recipe looks nicer if you have pint jars, but I only had two big quart jars on hand, so the beans are a little wadded up in there. With the pint jars you can get your fingers down to the bottom to arrange them so they are all nicely lined up and vertical. But really, wadded up Dilly Beans still taste fine.

I'll use some of the extra dill I have left over from the beans to make my favorite summer soup, Chlodnik, which also uses up 4 of the beautiful sweet cucumbers that I picked today!

Dilly Beans
This makes 4 pint jars and assumes that you will NOT do a boiling water bath so will store the finished product in the refrigerator.

2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 tsp cayenne
4 cloves garlic
4 heads of dill (or good sized wads of fresh dill)
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup salt

Blanch the beans for about one minute in boiling water then cool rapidly in ice water to prevent further cooking.

To each pint jar, add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 clove garlic, 1 head dill (or a generous amount of fresh dill).

Pack the beans lengthwise into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space.

Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Pour, boiling hot, over the beans, covering the beans. Put on and tighten the caps--carefully! The jars are hot hot hot!

Let cool down and then refrigerate.

Store for about 2 weeks to develop flavor before eating.

Dilly Beans will keep for 2 or 3 months in the refrigerator before losing their crispness.


Anonymous said...

And if I want to process them so they're shelf stable, how long would you recommend? They look yum- I know my monkey's will be all over them...

Kate said...

Sorry to say, I don't know how long you have to process for shelf stable. I have a fear of botulism so I haven't canned since my mom had me help her with it when I was a kid. I would guess that you wouldn't want to blanch the beans before processing though--the blanch plus the processing time would probably make them a little soggy.

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