Monday, May 30, 2011

Hi. Are you still there? I hope so.

When I left you with a handful of vagueries and a promise to return in May (and I have! though just barely, I know), I mentioned that I was in sort of a transitional place. I am happy to say that state has blossomed and branched out in ways I had not anticipated, but anticipation would have just ruined so many delightful surprises. That being said, I’m in my new apartment in my recycled home, being very busy, and cooking up a storm. And I am back to blogging, because I care about you so very much, and I feel generally lousy without you in my life.

I’m sorry for the delay. If there is one thing I do not like it is delayed gratification. Yes, yes, I understand the merits of waiting, the whole absence/hearts shebang, but I am admittedly and steadfastly impatient and I want it now, now, now. This is an unpopular attitude amongst more elite food circles, and I do my best to feel properly abashed.

But there come those times when your disdain for one thing must be stifled in order to pave the way for something else you like very much; in this case, pickles. Pickled green beans, or dillybeans as I have always heard them called, and while I was mixing brine and sterilizing Mason jars, I figured I might as well go ahead and pickle the slightly sad looking carrots lying in the crisper.

Here they are, in their garlic and dilled glory. Two of the jars of beans have crushed red pepper added for a kick; the other two are plain, and I'm curious to see which turns out best. And it is certainly lucky that I am not a cat, because I feel certain that my curiosity will be increasing by tenfold before the requisite two weeks pass and I can finally taste the little vixens. Really, though, aren't they beautiful? TWO WEEKS. Sheesh.

So here I am, once again, dangling the carrot (forgive the pun; I was helpless to it) and keeping you in suspense. If there's one thing I've learned recently, though, is that a little suspense is a good thing. Just think about how good that carrot's going to taste.


This is a classic dill pickling brine that has just enough sugar to make it interesting, but not sweet at all like, say, a bread and butter pickle. Two things I found made my life easier: after making your brine, pour it into a pitcher to chill. Space-efficient in your refrigerator and it's much easier to pour the brine instead of ladling it. Also, I used the pint sized Mason jars themselves as measuring cups for all the liquids.This recipe will make enough for 2.5 lbs of green beans, or 2 lbs beans and 5 carrots. 5 jars altogether, whichever way.

2.5 lbs green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 pint apple cider vinegar
1/2 pint white vinegar
1 pint water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher or pickling salt 
5 large sprigs fresh dill
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Place two cloves of garlic, a sprig of dill, and red pepper if using in five sterilized pint-sized Mason jars. Stack beans tightly up and down in jars; set aside. Bring all other ingredients to boil and stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour into pitcher; allow to completely cool. (If your brine is at all warm, your pickles will be wilted, sad little things with no crunch.) After cooling, pour brine over beans, completely covering, and seal tightly with a lid and ring. Best of all, because beans are not highly acidic, processing is not necessary. Just store them in your pantry for at least two weeks before digging in.

If you're using carrots, it takes about five per jar. Just peel them and slice them into thin sticks, something like a healthy, happily orange french fry. And by the way, either of these pickles is a delicious and fun alternative to celery in a bloody mary.

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