Spicy Pickled Green Beans

Hello! You’ve made it to my cooking and food blog. Welcome to my first post. Shall we jump right in? Okay, I’ll give some background first.

With Harry’s 25th coming up and mine only months behind, it dawned on me that I am squarely in my mid-twenties and not getting any younger. I’ve put off starting a blog for about a decade now, with excuses ranging from “I need to focus on work,” to “I don’t have anything new to say,” to “I need the perfect title,” to “If I wait long enough, someone will invent mind-reading cyborgs who can intuit and organize all my rambling food thoughts and design/write my blog for me.”

I’ve waited years and there are still no cyborgs, so I’m biting the bullet and writing this blog with my own ten fingers. Have I figured out a perfect title or proofread everything to make sure it is mind-numblingly new and fresh? No. What this blog will most likely turn into is a collection of some of my favorite recipes, new cooking attempts, and foodie to-do lists. It’ll detail not just culinary successes, but also failures, because some things take more than a try or two (I’m looking at you, pie crust) to master, and isn’t that kind of what Quarter Life is about? I’m going to be keeping it real in my Quarter Life Kitchen. So, welcome, and bon appetit!

Harry’s birthday is later this week, and that means a lot of spicy cooking between today and Thursday, starting with…Spicy Pickled Green Beans. Mniam Mniam.

This is a recipe that came to me from a former co-worker who got it from a friend’s father. If it made it through this many degrees of separation, it has to be good. I’ve altered it a bit to give it more kick (this is for Harry, after all), but if you want a milder version, you can halve or quarter the pepper and garlic.

Spicy Pickled Green Beans

Makes 6 and a half pints

String beans (I like to use a variety of colors, for presentation)

4 cups vinegar

4 cups water

1/2 cup canning salt (Kosher salt will do)

Bunch of dill, about 1-2 sprigs per pint jar (dill seed will do in a pinch)

Garlic, about 2-3 cloves per jar

Ground cayenne red pepper

Prepare the jars, lids, and rings. This recipe will make about 6 pint jars and one half-pint jar (for the nubbins). Your canner should have more specific instructions on how to prepare the jars and water bath, but if you’re in a pinch or just need a refresher Food in Jars is a great source of information for all things canning-related. And if you haven’t gotten into canning yet, you should. The start-up costs are low, it lets you enjoy your favorite seasonal vegetables year round, it makes for great gift-giving, and word on the street is it’s the next big thing. Pies are so over (to my dismay).

Wash the string beans in warm water and cut off the ends. Cut the string beans so that they are of equal length and will pack easily into the jars. Save the nubbins for the half pint jar!

Peel the garlic and wash the dill.

Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil. You can start boiling this brine while you are prepping the green beans, etc. Be forewarned, your kitchen will smell shockingly vinegary, and it will be delicious.

Remove the jars from the boiling water bath, one by one, and pack each jar with several sprigs of dill, 2-3 cloves of garlic, and a heaping teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper. Pack in the green beans. Make sure you pack them tight to avoid air bubbles and botulism.

Ladle the hot brine into each jar, leaving a generous 1/2 inch of head space (once again, just trying to keep you from dying of botulism). Remove any air bubbles by sliding a knife into the jar. Place lid on jar and wipe rim to remove any debris. Screw on ring to fingertip-tight. Don’t go tighter! Or, you guessed it: botulism. (Actually, I’m not sure this has to do with botulism, but just don’t screw on the ring too tight, okay?)

Place the jars in the boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before removing from canner, and sit back, relax, and wait 60 days to enjoy your Spicy Pickled Green Beans! If you can’t wait that long (and honestly, I never have), these green beans can be eaten in a week or two, but they really do start tasting superb the longer you let them stand. And save that pickle juice for pickle backs! This recipe is coming to you straight from Brooklyn, after all.

Coming up next: Pumpkin Sorbet, Snickerdoodles, and further thoughts (i.e. lamentations) on aging.


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