Saturday, September 29, 2012
Dilly Long Beans
Well, hi there! It's been a while! I have been cooking and creating, but haven't had the brain power to sit down and post. The good news is, I have several yummy things to share in the next week or so.
If you have never been to a farmers' market, I so urge you to go asap. Produce at the farmers' market is good, fresh, local and not expensive at all. There is a persistent myth that healthy food has to be expensive. I think this is true only if you are buying specialty items. Regular old fruit and veg are cheapity-cheap. Because of the large variety available at the farmers' market, I can try new things and if I need some help, the farmer is right there to give me pointers. They want me to enjoy their produce!
Here is a dramatic price comparison for you:
Bel Air - A tiny clam shell with one stalk cut into thirds, $2.99
Safeway - $6.99 per pound (it looked horrible too!)
SF Market in Little Saigon - 99 Cents per bunch, which has about 4 stalks
Sunday farmers' market - A big handful for a buck! (plus the nice lady shoved mint in my bag because I had to wait a minute)
I make iced tea with lemon grass and fresh ginger several times a week and I go through it pretty fast. There is no way I will pay $6.99 a pound for an inferior product! Herbs are one of the things that are always freshest and cheapest at the farmers' market. Most herbs grow like weeds, so I don't really know why they are so expensive at the grocery store. In fact, planting herbs is really the cheapest option. Many herbs are perennial and you will enjoy one plant for many years. I'm not much of a gardener, but I've always had good luck with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. (I couldn't resist!)
This week, the family that grows my lemon grass and other herbs, had beautiful long beans. I've been wanting to make dilly beans for a while and I thought it would be fun to experiment with long beans. I figured I could cut them to the length of any jar and they are usually pretty straight. I bought two bunches of green long beans. I don't know how much they weighed. They are bound at the top by a rubber band and the bound bunch was probably about 4 inches in diameter. As I was making my way out of the market, I noticed another family had purple long beans. They were gorgeous! They had to join my green long beans! Now, not only do I have dilly long beans, I have multi-colored dilly long beans! How cool is that!
I used the same brine I use for my little cucumber dills. Because the beans are smaller than the cucumber dills, the brine penetrates them more fully than the cucumber dills. In flavor, they remind me a bit of capers. I think it would be awesome to decorate the top of deviled eggs with purple beans. Stylish!
Dilly Long Beans
3 big bunches of long beans (I used 2 green and 1 purple)
6 cloves of garlic
6 sprigs of fresh dill weed
3 tsp. dill seed (1/2 tsp. per jar)
2 cups distilled white vinegar
6 cups water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. whole black pepper corns (1/4 tsp. per jar)
Prepare 6 wide mouth pint jars, lids and rings. Prepare the boiling water bath.
Wash and trim the ends from the beans. Use a ruler to cut the beans so that they fill the jar with 1/2 inch head space. Peel the garlic and split each one in half, lengthwise. Set aside.
Bring the vinegar and water to a boil and stir in the salt to dissolve. Place the hot, sterilized jars on a towel and place one garlic clove, 1/2 tsp. dill seed and 1/4 tsp. black pepper corns. Carefully fill the jars with the beans, keeping them as straight as possible. Add the purple beans last, around the outside of the jar. Stuff the dill weed down one side, making sure everything is clear of the 1/2 inch head space. Pack the beans as tightly as possible, because they will shrink when processed. After the jars are filled, carefully pour the hot brine over the beans, again being careful of the 1/2 inch head space. Carefully wipe the rim of the jars and top with the prepared lids and rings. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cure for two weeks before opening.
Makes 6 pints