Recipe from Eating Local: The Cook’s Companion from Land to Table by Sur La Table with Janet Fletcher, publishing in Spring 2010 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Equipment: Canning Kettle with Rack, 1-quart Wide-Mouth Canning Jar, Saucepan, Jar Lifters, Cooling Rack
Makes 1 quart
Winters are long in Minnesota, making a well-stocked pantry all the more valuable. At the Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm in the tiny town of Harris, Robin Raudabaugh transforms her slender yellow wax beans into what old-timers call “dilly beans,” pickling them with garlic, red chile, and clusters of flowering dill. The neatly packed jars are stockpiled in a crawl space under the house until time works its magic, mellowing the vinegary brine. The crisp beans, served with a sandwich, bring memories of summer to a winter lunch.
1 pound yellow wax beans, as straight as possible
1 cluster of fresh dill flower heads
1 large clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 small dried red chile
1-1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
1. Fill a canning kettle with enough water to cover the top of a 1-quart jar resting on the preserving rack. Bring to a boil. Wash a 1-quart, wide-mouth jar with hot, soapy water; rinse well and put it upside down on a clean dishtowel.
2. Remove the tips of the beans and, if necessary, trim the beans so they will fit upright in a 1-quart wide-mouth jar. Fill the clean jar with the beans, dill, garlic, and chile, packing the beans in tightly but neatly.
3. Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour the hot liquid over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Top with a new lid and close tightly.
4. Place the jar on the preserving rack and lower the rack into the canning kettle. If the water doesn’t cover the jar, add boiling water from a tea kettle. Cover the canning kettle and boil 10 minutes. Using the jar lifters, transfer the jar to a rack to cool. Do not touch the jar again until you hear the pop that indicates that the lid has sealed. Cool completely. Confirm that the jar has sealed by pressing on the lid with your finger; if the lid gives, the jar has not sealed and the contents should be refrigerated and used within 1 week. If the jar has sealed, store it in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month or up to 1 year before opening. Refrigerate after opening.