We’ve been bringing in green beans by the bushel-full each week this year! It’s been crazy! Though I’m not the biggest fan of their flavor, the Provider beans have been living up to their name and my freezer is loaded with bag after bag of frozen beans. My preferences in flavor are subtle and I doubt that I’d notice if I wasn’t doing side by side comparisons with the varieties so Provider has won a home on my preferred seed list.
I think after watching their performance this year, I’m going to plant two successions for our over-winter food supply and hope that by disposing of the first succession, I can avoid the first cycle of Mexican Bean Beetles who have devastated the foliage of our plants this year. Though I could get at least another 6-8 weeks of good, fresh eating, I pulled the plants and we burned them to try to kill off the pests before they had a chance to overwinter. Killing bad bugs indiscriminately always is a struggle because I know there is a likelihood that beneficial insects are going to be eliminated along with the pests. But after weeks and weeks of hand-squishing and only seeing 1 beneficial stink bug sucking the insides out of one of the thousands of bean beetle larvae, it was a risk I had to take.
When I was done squirting the yellow, watery insides from the clear shell of the larvae, I’d haul the bushel to the front porch, wipe the guts from my hands, and get snapping. With so many bushels of frozen beans, it was inevitable that I’d have to find another way to preserve the harvest or face the fact that I was simply wasting my time blanching, drying, and packing the beans because there is no way even we could go through them all. With a cucumber harvest yet to materialize, pickling the beans seemed the most obvious thing to do with my abundance.
And it turned out to be a real good call.
These guys are wolfing them down, one pint after another and I’m afraid that the 52 pints I put up will be gone in no time.
Now, these surprising crunchy Dilly Beans aren’t for the faint of heart. They certainly pack a punch, but even though you’re Lamaze breathing to cool your mouth on the way back to the jar, you can’t help yourself, back you must go.
For me, the best thing about pickling the harvest is how simple it is compared to their more labor and time intensive garden neighbor… The tomato. Someone come save me. I’m drowning in a sea of tomatoes. I live every moment in fear of whether my hands will smell like tomatoes and garlic the rest of the winter. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if it didn’t make me almost constantly hungry or if I wasn’t worried so much about what you would think if you found yourself standing next to me wondering why you smelled an odd mixture of Italian restaurant and spilled pickle juice.
Cayenne-Spiced Dilly Beans
- 2 pounds green beans
- 4 heads dill flower
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 cayenne peppers, or 4 pinches red pepper flakes
- 2 ½ cups vinegar
- 2 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup salt
- 12 black peppercorns
- 4 large pinches yellow mustard seed
- Snap the stem end off the beans and cut them to the height of a pint-sized mason jar.
- Stuff the jars full of beans.
- Stuff in one head of dill flower, one clove of garlic, and one cayenne pepper into each jar.
- Add 3 peppercorns and a large pinch of mustard seed to each jar. (If you're using pepper flakes add them now.)
- Meanwhile bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil.
- Ladle the hot vinegar salt water into each jar leaving ½" headspace.
- Wipe the rims and top with rings and lids.
- Process the beans in a water bath for 10 minutes.
- Allow them to sit in the brine for at least a week before sampling so the flavors have time to blend.
What’s your favorite way to put up beans?