July 25, 2010

Pickles, Relish, and Dilly Beans, Oh My!

That's right- a pickling marathon. All things dill and certainly (no, not ever) sweet or bread and butter. First up, dilly beans.

Do I need to explain dilly beans to non-Mainers? They're pickled green beans. And while I'm sure Maine doesn't hold the patent on dilly beans, I hadn't heard of them until I moved here. Same with my non-Mainer friends.

A simple brine of salt, water, vinegar, and crushed red pepper, poured over green beans, garlic, and dill heads makes for snappy, salt, tart, spicy pickled beans. Would be great in a Bloody Mary or a martini. Or ya know, just eaten straight out of the jar for no reason at all.

Next, fresh pack Kosher dill pickles. We used a recipe calling for whole cukes, but switched it up and sliced them into spears. I had a mild panic attack doing so because of the trauma of last year's applesauce pickles (where you can poke your finger into the middle of the slice and it turns into an applesauce consistency).

I think the applesauce pickles happened because of my ad-libbing without, uh, reading the directions for sliced pickles. Sliced pickle recipes call for you to treat your pickles by soaking them in salted water first- something to do with drawing in water so they stay crisp after processing. This year, we just went with spears, which don't call for pre-treatment, and added some Ball Pickle Crisp Granules as back-up. Fingers crossed we didn't just waste 8 pounds of cucumbers (again).

Then, and finally, the relish. We actually prepped the relish as we sliced our green beans and cucumbers, since the relish has to soak in salted water for two hours. Then you drain it, rinse it, and add vinegar, sugar (just a little), dill seed, and chopped onions. Boil it all up and can it in half-pints, unless you're really into hot dogs and can plow through a pint of relish in two weeks.

The final haul with many thanks to Roomie A., B. and C.:

And this was a Canning Across America party, connecting with home food preservers all across the country!