Also new were piles of winter squash of all colors, sizes and texture. Even pumpkins, both for cooking and those for carving, have arrived along with the standard cooler weather potatoes, beets, carrots, garlic, ginger, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and dark leafy greens (only $1 for you kale lovers). On the waning end of their seasons were tomatoes, zucchini, radishes, lettuce, spinach, okra, cucumbers and one of my favorite – green beans.
In a state of panic I bought far too large a basket of deeply colored green beans, which when I got home I realized I had no room for in the fridge. Alas, I happen to have a quick and delicious fix for preserving crunchy summer vegetables, the classic pickle.
If done correctly, these pickles can sit on a shelf in a dark cupboard or closet for a few years, but once a jar is opened, it must be refrigerated. I don’t have a pressure cooker or play around with anything too serious that will take more than an hour to prepare. After all, I am still a Macalester student with lots of things to do.
While this recipe is generally adapted from my grandmother’s teaching from the farm in Western Nebraska and classic advice from Betty Crocker’s Home Cookbook, I add my own mix of spices depending on what I have and what flavors I like. I prefer a hotter and tangier pickle with hints of mustard and curry flavor, but feel free to alter as you wish.
Pickled Green Beans
1 lbs. of fresh green beans
3 glass jars and sized lids with new seals
3 cups of water
2 cups of vinegar
¼ Cup of salt
3 peeled garlic cloves
1 jalapeno pepper
Optional spices: dill, mustard, curry powder, celery seed
Sterilize glass jars and lids by submerging them completely in boiling water for 10-15 minutes (this requires a very large pot or doing one jar at a time in a smaller pot). Then set on a clean towel to cool.
Wash, trim and pack green beans into jars with 1 clove + 1 slice of pepper in each jar and any mix of fresh or dried spices you like.
Bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil then pour the hot brining liquid over the beans, filling the jars to about ½ inch from the rim.
Place seals and lids onto jars and let cool. You should hear a pop, indicating the pressure seal worked, after about 5-10 minutes of cooling.
Keep pickles in a cool dark place for a few weeks before opening to let flavors permeate.