Well, not really a bar, per se, more like a nice restaurant loungey-kind of bar.
The kind that serves brunch. And Bloody Mary’s.
My first dilly bean was lovingly served in place of celery to stir a brunchy Bloody Mary, and I thought it was brilliant. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Dilly beans are great. A green bean, pickled with seasonings you normally relegate to cucumbers. Except. . . . they become different. They’re crunchier, they have a better bite, and, of course, they don’t fall apart in one’s drink. They’re the perfect thing you can do to a green bean, other than eat them fresh out of the garden.
My parents make traditional dilly beans, processed with vinegar and canned with a boiling water bath to seal for shelf stability. They are awesome and are a welcome treat in a Christmas basket. I, on the other hand, have been trying my hand at lacto-fermenting mine for home use, and frankly, I love them even more! Without the strong flavor of the vinegar, the beans and fresh herbs really shine through, while the added benefit of eating a crunchy, salty snack, with probiotics included, can’t be beat.
I make my dilly beans with beans I’ve grown a bit extra long on purpose. (I’ve always got those Bloody Mary’s in mind, I guess!) and batch process them in half-gallon or gallon batches. Once they’re fermented and “pickled” I drain them from the original brine, disperse them into smaller containers, adding fresh brine and herbs, and store. I find that this process works better for me in terms of keeping the vegetables submerged in the brine, and I have less waste. If you prefer to pickle them directly in the jar they’ll be stored in, you’re more than welcome to do that and can still use this recipe, just disperse the herbs a little bit more evenly amongst the jars and make sure that the vegetables are thoroughly submerged for the entire processing time, about two weeks.
Enjoy these Dilly Beans on top of a zesty Salad Nicoise, on the side of a sandwich, or simply to stir along a Bloody Mary. One bite, and you’ll be hooked!
Lacto-Fermented Dilly Beans
per every half gallon
- 1 pound tender, young green beans, trimmed
- 2 hot peppers (I used Serrano), stems cut off and sliced in half lengthwise
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 Tablespoon dill seed
- a small handful of fresh dill
- Brine consisting of 1/3 cup pickling salt or sea salt to every 2 quarts of water
- quart size freezer bag
In a half-gallon mason jar or crock, layer beans, garlic, peppers and herbs and spices. Dissolve the salt in the water and pour enough brine over the beans to cover them well. Push a quart-size (or gallon size if your crock has a larger opening and surface area) freezer bag into the top of the jar and pour the remaining brine into the bag, removing air from bag before sealing.
The point of the freezer bag is to keep the vegetables submerged while brining while, if the brine evaporates or the bag leaks, it doesn’t dilute the brine.
Store at room temperature for about two weeks, covered with a dishtowel, if necessary, to keep bugs out, but not sealed. Oxygen is needed for lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation, indicated by tiny bubbles, should begin within 3 days. If any scum appears at the top of the jar, simply skim it off and rinse off the brine bag before re-covering.
Dilly beans should be ready in about two weeks, when they taste sour and the bubbling has stopped. Remove the brine bag and, either cap the jar, or you can drain the vegetables, re-jar into smaller jars, add new spices (dill seeds, garlic and peppercorns, specifically – no more fresh dill this time around) and top with fresh brine of the same consistency as indicated above, before capping.
Store in a cool, dark place until ready to eat. Some prefer keeping their lacto-fermented pickles in the fridge, but I keep mine, unopened, in our very cool basement.
I live in a 100+ year old house with a traditional basement pretty much carved out of the rock. It’s cold enough down there that I use it for a root cellar and pantry storage. And hopefully, this fall, wine cave!
Pickled beans should keep in cold storage for several months.
Want to know more about why lacto-fermenting vegetables is better for you than pickling with heat? Read this post. Keep in mind, I make both varieties, but I have a special place in my heart for those lacto-ferments!