[dropcap]G[/dropcap]rowing up in the Mennonite community, it seemed like women were always canning things. Canned pickles, tomatoes, peaches, you name it, they canned it. I actually learned how to preserve my food by way of canning just by watching my mom and the other ladies work.
For real, my mom and her church lady friends would have canning parties. They’d pick someone’s basement, show up with massive amounts of produce in tow, and have a canning extravaganza.
The most memorable canning party I can remember was when I was about 8 years old and the ladies were “putting up” applesauce. There was this huge mill going with loads of hot apples running through it. I think they par-boiled the apples first to loosen the skins. Plus, the apple chunks needed to be soft and hot before going into the hot jars.
Anyway, my curiosity got the best of me and I put my face super close to the mill and got splashed in the eye with hot applesauce. Serves me right. I mean, who sticks their face next to a mill anyway? I’ll never forget that experience as long as I live.
In addition to apples, the ladies of my church and my mom would also can dilly beans. Now, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what dilly beans are. Basically, they are exactly what they sound like…beans packed in a dill brine.
And boy, are they ever good.
Now, you can opt to use a Mrs. Wage’s dilly bean packet and some vinegar to create a tasty brine for your beans, but I prefer to make my own. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with using a pre-made pickling powder and I do like Mrs. Wages, but from scratch always tastes best.
Plus, the recipe I am going to share with you all is a top-secret Mennonite method.
Okay, it’s not top secret but it is really good, and you are most certainly going to love it.
Now, you may can these dilly beans, or you place them in jars and pop ‘em in the fridge for 24-hours and eat within a week. I prefer the shelf stable method because who on earth can eat 5 pounds of dilly beans in a week?
I mean, they are delicious but, dang.
Dilly Beans Recipe
6 cups of filtered water – well water tastes best if you have access to it
1 cup kosher pickling salt
6 cups white distilled vinegar
8 tops of fresh dill weed
½ c pickling spice
½ cup mustard seed
16 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp alum
5 lbs. fresh green beans, cleaned and snapped
Begin by sterilizing 8 pint-sized jars in boiling water. You should allow the jars to boil for at least 5 minutes. As the jars are sterilizing, add the water, pickling salt, and white vinegar in a large non-reactive pot. Avoid using aluminum.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and keep brine hot while you pack the sterilized jars with the green beans.
To each jar place 1 top of dill, 1 tbsp pf pickling spice, 1 tbsp of mustard seed, 2 cloves of garlic, and 1/8 tsp of alum. Pack the beans into the jars.
Now, pour the hot vinegar brine into the jars and leave about an inch of headspace at the top. Take a butter knife and remove any air bubbles from the jars by running it around the rims. Place sterilized lids and rings onto the jars and process in a hot water canning bath for 10 minutes to seal.
Allow the jars to sit out on a towel-lined countertop for 24-hours before putting up in the pantry or cabinet. Make sure the lids are sealed. Don’t sample the dilly beans for at least 2 weeks for best results.
I hope you enjoy this childhood recipe for dilly beans of mine. I always looked forward to mom making these beans that we could enjoy the whole year long.
There’s nothing better than eating produce from your very own garden in the dead of winter. Whenever I taste a dilly bean in December I feel as if I’m tasting a little piece of summer.