Summer is finally here, and with it comes the ever-coveted canned food that most pickle-loving humans hoard right down to the last bean (or if you’re like me, down to the last sip of spicy brine): dilly beans!  When pickling green beans, it is recommended (by me) that you make as much as you possibly can as you’ll find yourself running out in a hurry… and these little spicy delights are hard to share when you only have a few priceless jars put up!  Anyone who’s anyone knows that they are indeed special if they are gifted a jar of pickled dill beans.

JENN’S SUMMERTIME CHILI DILLIES- ADAPTED FROM THE BALL CANNING BOOK  (yields about 4 pint jars)

Ingredients:

  • about 2 lbs fresh green beans from the garden or your local farmers market, with ends trimmed to fit jars
  • 4 big cloves freshly peeled garlic
  • 4 large heads of dill
  • 2.5 cups apple cider vinegar – 5% acidity  *My tastebuds prefer Bragg’s brand apple cider vinegar*
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  •  cayenne powder
  •  red chili flakes
  • (optional) a handful thinly sliced jalapenos (seeds removed) for an extra kick of flavor and heat if you’ve got some in the garden that need used up at this time- they pickle up nice.

Set aside a couple wet paper towels next to your clean workstation.  Okay.  You’ve got your ingredients prepped, your water bath canner set up, and you’re ready to go.  First thing:

Place your jar lids in a small saucepan and set on low heat. Bring the water to simmer, but don’t allow to get so hot as to boil.  In a large saucepan, combine the vinegar, water and salt together.  Bring vinegar mixture to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Sanitize your jars in the hot water bath canner for 10 minutes at 180 degrees F.

Still with me?  Alright, GAME ON.  Pro tip:  If you have pets, kids, or anyone else living with you, I guarantee that this will be the moment that everyone suddenly needs to be in the kitchen or ask you a question.  For your own sanity, make sure to kick everyone out before you start juggling hot jars and beans.

Pack your green beans into hot clean jars lengthwise, filling as much of the empty jar space as possible and making sure you have 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.  Really cram those suckers in there.  *Optional:  (If you’re putting in a few slices of jalapeno, tilt your jar to the side, laying them on that side, and place beans on top of the slices, then squeeze a few more slices of jalapeno on top of the beans while still holding the tilted jar.  This takes a bit of finesse, but it makes it look pretty).

Next, take one of the garlic cloves, place it in the center of one of those beautiful heads of dill and plunge it into the center of your beans using your thumb.  Satisfying, isn’t it?  Then, take about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder and a goodly amount of red pepper flakes (1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon is optimal) and put them on top of your packed beans.  Ladle your properly simmered hot brine over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace in your jar.

There is usually an obscene amount of air bubbles involved.  I use a clean chopstick to release them, wiggling it about in the space between beans and jar.  I also tap the jar on the counter gently a couple times for good measure.  If you’ve packed your jars well, you won’t have the frustrating experience of beans suddenly jumping to the top of the jar.  I suggest using the most colorful words in your arsenal to ease the tension you’ll feel in the event that this happens.

After you’ve removed the air bubbles, take one of your clean, moistened paper towels and wipe any brine or debris off the rims.  Using a magnetic lid lifter, grab one of the hot lids and place it on top of the jar.  Take a canning ring and center it over the jar and lid then screw it on just fingertip tight.  Put the filled jar on the canning rack over your simmering water bath which should still be rocking that sweet spot of 180˚F.

After all of your jars have been filled, lower them into the bath (make sure there is at least an inch of water over the tops of your jars), put the lid on top of the canner, and turn the heat up to medium high.  Process your filled prepared jars for 10 full minutes once the water comes to a rolling boil.  Turn the heat off, remove lid from canner, and wait for the bubbling to die down and the bath to cool down a bit, about 5 minutes.  Remove your hot jars and carefully place them on a flat surface that has been covered by a clean kitchen towel.  Leave them alone.  Let them cool overnight, then check the seals in the morning.  (I do this by first pressing my finger on the center of the lid to feel if it is slightly concave, then taking the ring off and lifting the jar slightly by the edge of the lid.  If it holds, it’s good to store).  I store my jars without bands on the top, but it’s up to you.  *Note:  Never tighten the bands around the lids as this will compromise the seal, not help it.

Add cute labels of your choice and store in a cool dark area for up to a year.  Who are we kidding?  Those beans aren’t going to last that long.  I know it is going to be difficult, but for best flavor, don’t crack any of them open for at least a couple of weeks.

If any of your seals happen to fail, simply store them in the fridge and consume at your leisure.  I’m usually okay with it if one or two of my dilly bean seals fail.  *chomp chomp*

Happy Canning!  -Jenn

Resources:  Please remember to reference and follow all proper safety guidelines as noted in the Ball Canning Book.  For further questions regarding canning safety and procedure, call this valuable local resource:

OSU Extension Service Food Safety and Preservation Hotline
Open from July 16 through October 12, 2018
Call Toll-Free – 1-800-354-7319
9 AM to 4 PM Monday – Friday