Busta Rhymes & dilly beans. A natural combination, no?
So yeah. Dilly beans. As a native New Yorker, where most of my young-adult time was spent pounding pavement in Manhattan, either uptown by the Met or downtown in Chelsea & the Fashion District, not quite growing my own vegetables/living in a rural area/reading up about canning, I hadn’t a friggin’ clue what the hell a dilly bean was. I’d heard of them, sure, on the internet & blogging circles. But I was totally not sure what exactly they were. Turns out, they’re just preserved green beans! Go figure!
Dilly beans or pickled green beans, are a means of preserving this summer legume. Often flavored with dill, hence the name, they may also contain garlic, Tabasco sauce, and red pepper. Best kept in glass jars for safekeeping over the winter months, they can be served on their own as a snack or alongside a main dish or in salad. While they are made in kitchens all over the United States, they are particularly common in Vermont, where the overabundance of green beans produced during the short summer needs to be preserved for enjoyment during the long winter.
Dilly beans were developed as a commercial product in 1958 by Sonya Hagna and Jacquelyn Park, who made them the subject of a well-known radio advertising campaign.
Ahhh so it’s a VERMONT thing, eh? I see. It just sounds so old-timey to me, I find them sorta fascinating.
Turns out they’re pretty popular. After Tracie, a Facebook fan of Cupcake Rehab, mentioned awhile back that they were her favorite thing to “can” (and also explained what they were, thanks Tracie), I thought they’d be an easy pickling project. Especially since my local grocer was selling fresh green beans for super cheap & my family was asking me for even more pickled items (word to the wise: the pickles are never enough). Even though I went canning crazy last month when my grandma died (that still sucks to write, by the way), practically all my pickles are gone and whatevers left is fought over.
I design/print/make my own labels… I just love them..
PICKLED GREEN BEANS AKA “DILLY BEANS” (directly from Food in Jars /adapted from So Easy to Preserve)
Ingredients for gettin’ dilly with it:
- 2 pounds green beans, trimmed to fit your jars
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)
- 4 teaspoons dill seed (not dill weed)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 ½ cups white vinegar (5%)
- 2 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup pickling salt (use a bit more if you’ve only got Kosher)
Directions on how to get yo’ dilly on:
- Prep your canning pot by inserting a rack to keep your jars off the bottom of the pot, place pint jars in (wide-mouth pints work best here. A 12-ounce jelly jar is also nice, as it’s a bit taller than a standard pint and makes for less trimming) and fill it with water. Bring to a boil to sterilize while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- Wash and trim your beans so that they fit in your jar. If you have particularly long beans, your best bet is to cut them in half, although by doing so, you do lose the visual appeal of having all the beans standing at attending.
- Combine vinegar, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. While it’s heating up, pack your beans into the jars, leaving ½ inch headspace (distance between the tops of the beans and the rim of the jar). To each jar, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 clove of garlic and 1 teaspoon dill seeds.
- Pour the boiling brine over the beans, making sure to leave that ½ inch headspace. Use a plastic knife to remove air bubbles from jar by running it around the interior of the jar. Wipe the rims and apply the lids (which have been sitting in a small saucepan of water at a mere simmer for at least ten minutes in order to soften the sealing compound) and rings.
- Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath (remember that you don’t start timing until the pot has come to a rolling boil).
As she said: “These beans want to hang out for a least two weeks before eating, to thoroughly develop their flavor.” This recipe, as it is written above, makes 4 jars of dilly beans. I did not use wide mouth pints, I used 2 regular pint jars. Why 2? Well I halved the recipe, really because I bought only a pound of beans. I would’ve bought more but I forgot what the recipe said when I went to buy ‘em, so I only bought one pound. Why I don’t know, because I clearly could’ve JARRED whatever extra I had. Oh well. I’m still thinking like someone who doesn’t can/jar, i.e. “I don’t want to waste it!” Duh. What an idiot, right? Anyway because these were gifts, or rather “orders”, I did not go crazy with the cayenne. I used just a ¼ teaspoon in each jar and it was too hot for these people! Crazy. If it were for me, I might have used the ½ teaspoon. But remember, these people are lame-o’s who don’t like “hot” stuff. So there we go. Who knew ¼ teaspoon of cayenne was too much? I guess these are some hardcore gangsta spicy dilly “Gettin’ silly wit my 9-milly, what da dilly yo?” beans.
Also, it’s true. Wide-mouth pints would work better. I used regular ones & it kinda sucked cramming them in. Pfft.
As summer is starting to come to a close, I’m trying to get in all the summer-y things I can. I had a pretty shitty summer, but while it’s still warm I’m trying to hang on to what’s left of it. Potato salad is one of those summertime staples. Every barbecue or picnic has either potato salad, macaroni salad, or both. My grandma made an awesome potato salad. So awesome, everyone who ate it said it was the best ever. Unfortunately, she wrote nothing down. And my mother never noted any of what she put into it, neither did I. It was always a dash of this, a little of that, etc. And as she got older, she made these awesome things less & less, and left the cooking to us; first my mom, then myself. So her recipes belong to the ages, along with her. However, last month’s issue of Bon Appétit has an entire article on canning, and it features a recipe for Dilly Bean Potato Salad. So I thought I’d give it a shot. And while it’s probably not quite as good as Nana’s, it’s something new & different. It’s also pretty damn amazing in it’s own right, to be fair. Maybe a new family recipe?
Dilly bean sighting!
DILLY BEAN POTATO SALAD (from Bon Appétit, August 2011)
- 2 shallots, halved lengthwise, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or more, to taste)
- Kosher salt
- 3 lb. potatoes*
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise (or more, to taste)
- 1 large pinch smoked paprika
- 3 cups trimmed watercress, purslane or wild arugula, coarsely chopped**
- 1 cup Dilly beans, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
- 2-3 large hard boiled eggs, peeled, quartered
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley or celery leaves
*the original recipe calls for baby Yukon gold, I just used unpeeled quartered Russets, that’s what my Nana did.
**I omitted that & just added a handful of chopped chives from my garden.
- Place shallots in a small bowl. Stir in the red wine vinegar, and a large pinch of salt; set aside.
- Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes well; transfer to a large bowl. Lightly crush potatoes with the back of a large spoon.
- Add shallot-vinegar mixture to hot potatoes and toss to incorporate. Season with salt & pepper.
- Whisk mayonnaise and smoked paprika in a small bowl; add to potatoes and toss to combine. Fold in watercress, beans, add eggs and season to taste with salt, pepper and more vinegar or mayonnaise if desired. Garnish with parsley.
Nana would be proud, second & third servings were requested.
This can be made one day ahead of time. Cover and chill, return to room temperature before serving, and stir in extra mayonnaise if it’s too dry. Although the next day nobody needed extra mayo; it seemed to stay nice & creamy. It would also knock it out of the park without the dilly beans; just add a little extra egg.
OH one more thing about the beans; remember what I said about the peaches floating? Dilly beans float too, apparently. I also did not have to trim many of my beans, sure I had to trim some but not a lot. Although now in retrospect, I probably could’ve gotten away with not trimming them at all, because I clearly had a lot of leeway, judging by the bottom of the jars there. I’m really bad at taking photos before I fill the jars, or during the process of filling the jars, etc. I promise I’ll change. I’ll be better. I know people want to see the process. I’ll deliver, my friends, I’ll deliver.
And I swear on my dilly’s that there will be some baked goods soon. In the meantime, why not make some of this for one of those ‘last days of summer’ barbecues?