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Saving Summer

Put up some Dilly Beans

At the farmers market and in the garden, summer has boldly arrived. Succulent cucumbers, herbs and peas are ready for a feast.
    Take some time to put up that abundant harvest. Can it, preserve it and ferment it in ways that will save and enhance the flavors of summer. Preserving provides quick, easy toppings and snacks that are a bright reminder of summer freshness for months to come.
    Early summer’s green beans are verdant and crisp. Pick or pick up a pound and lacto-ferment them into tangy Dilly Beans. Lacto-fermentation, as opposed to vinegar-based pickling, relies upon beneficial microbes to convert vegetable sugars into sour acids, as in the making of sauerkraut. The salty acidic lacto-fermentation will save the beans while preserving their freshness and vitamins with a pro-biotic boost.

1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
2 dried red chili peppers (optional)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seed
4 sprigs of fresh dill, with or without flowers
2 quarts non-chlorinated water
4 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt
2 quart jars

    Mix the salt and water until dissolved completely. If more brine is needed, use the ratio above. Set aside.
    Divide the chilis, garlic, peppercorns, coriander seed and dill between each jar.
    Place the green beans on top of the spices and herbs. Arrange longer beans standing up; cut-up pieces can be packed in gently.
    Pour the brine over the green beans to completely cover, leaving one inch of space between the brine and the top of the jar.
    Seal a lid on tightly and leave to ferment at room temperature (60 to 80 degrees) for four to 10 days. Taste each day to determine when the fermentation is to your liking. The longer and warmer the beans ferment, the more tangy and sour they become.
    Refrigerate for up to 6 months.