Pickled Yellow Wax Beans with Fresh Dill

At the Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm in the tiny Minnesota town of Harris, Robin Raudabaugh transforms her slender yellow wax beans into what old-timers call “dilly beans,” pickling them with garlic, red chile and clusters of flowering dill. The neatly packed jars are stockpiled in a crawl space under the house until time works its magic, mellowing the vinegary brine. The crisp beans, served with a sandwich, bring memories of summer to a winter lunch. From Eating Local, the cookbook inspired by America's farmners by Janet Fletcher (Andrews McMeel).

  • 1 pound yellow wax beans, as straight as possible
  • 1 cluster of fresh dill flower heads
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 small dried red chile
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt

Fill a canning kettle with enough water to cover the top of a 1-quart jar resting on the preserving rack. Bring to a boil. Wash a 1-quart, wide-mouth jar with hot, soapy water; rinse well, and keep it upside down on a clean dishtowel until you are ready to fill it. Put a new lid (never reuse lids) in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.

Remove the tips of the beans and, if necessary, trim the beans so they will fit upright in the jar. Fill the jar with the beans, dill, garlic and chile, packing the beans in tightly but neatly.

Put the vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Ladle the hot liquid into the jar, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the jar rim clean with a damp paper towel. Top with the lid and then a screw band. Close tightly.

Place the jar on the preserving rack and lower the rack into the canning kettle. If the water doesn’t cover the jar, add boiling water from a tea kettle. Cover the canning kettle. After the water returns to a boil, boil for 10 minutes. With a jar lifter, transfer the jar to a rack to cool completely. Do not touch the jar again until you hear the pop that indicates that the lid has sealed. You can confirm that the lid has sealed by pressing the center with your finger; if it gives, it has not sealed and the contents should be refrigerated and used within a week. Store the sealed jar in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month or up to 1 year before opening. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes 1 quart