Green beans, long and straight and crisp, are abundant in midsummer. Really abundant. Beans don't ripen conveniently, with a pound available for dinner tonight and another pound next week. Instead, three or four pounds will be ready to pick one day and again the next.
Pickled green beans are not as assertive as cucumber pickles but rather are delicate and briny, with the flavor of the bean shining through. They are most frequently offered as dilly beans, the taste vegetal and garlicky. This recipe takes a cue from the cuisine of India instead, using cumin and coriander as the base for a snappy pickle that can jazz up potato salad or garnish a turkey sandwich.
Three ingredients can be found in any vinegar-based pickle: water, salt and vinegar. The water must be free of chlorine or the pickles will taste as though they went swimming at the local pool. Buy bottled water for the project or use filtered water.
Choose only kosher, pickling or fine-grain sea salt, as each dissolves easily. Iodized table salt can interact with vinegar and impart a metallic taste to the pickles.
Select the vinegar for this project carefully. Pickling vinegars must be measured at a minimum 5 percent acidity for safe processing, but rice vinegar often falls below that mark. It is used here as a flavoring, in addition to distilled white vinegar.
You might be tempted to pickle yellow or purple beans, but stick with the standard green: The yellow ones turn muddy, and purple ones turn a deep olive green.
Look for just-picked beans — meaty, crisp and brightly colored — most often found at the farmers market and farm stands. Hope for absolutely fresh. Straight beans will pack readily into wide-mouth pint jars. If the beans are long and elegant, a tall jar will show off the pickle to great advantage. (Ball makes a 24-ounce jar that is perfect for the Kentucky Blue Wonder bean.) Turn the jar sideways to fill, facilitating a snug fit.
Trim off the stem ends and leave the adorable tails. If the tails are not perky, snap both ends. But be wary of beans with dry or droopy tails, an indication they might be past their prime.
Curry Spiced Pickled Green Beans
3 servings pint jars.
This crunchy, snackable pickle is similar to the classic dilly bean, but its spice blend is Indian-inspired. Pour hot brine over fresh green beans and wait a week while they cure into a crisp, briny pickle. You will need a candy thermometer. You’ll need 3 sanitized pint jars with new lids and rings, and a jar lifter or coated tongs; see the notes, below. Serve as a garnish for a dirty martini. Layer in a sandwich. Chop and add to potato salad. MAKE AHEAD: The pickles need to cure for at least a week, and preferably 2 weeks, before serving. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening. From Cathy Barrow, author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving” (Norton, November 2014).
2 cups distilled white vinegar
½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2½ cups nonchlorinated water
¼ cup kosher salt or sea salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled, root end removed and not crushed
One ½-inch-thick coin fresh ginger root (unpeeled)
About 2 pounds (2 quarts) very fresh green beans, washed, snap off the stem end but not the tail (see article)
3 broad strips lemon peel (as little pith as possible)
3 teaspoons cumin seed
1½ teaspoons coriander seed
3/4 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
Combine the vinegars, water, salt, garlic and ginger in a 3-quart nonreactive (such as ceramic or enameled cast-iron) saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover and steep for no more than 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pack the beans in the jars well, tucking in as many beans as possible. It is sometimes helpful to alternate tops and tails, allowing more beans fit in the jar.
Add 1 lemon peel strip, 1 teaspoon cumin seed, ½ teaspoon coriander seed and ¼ teaspoon white peppercorns to each jar.
Stir the brine to ensure the salt has dissolved; discard the ginger and garlic. Pour the still-warm brine over the green beans, leaving ½ inch of head space. Use a flat plastic knife, a chopstick or a bubbler to gently press around the inside of the jar to dislodge any air bubbles.
Clean the rim of each jar, place the warmed lids and finger tighten the rings (not too tightly). Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Use the jar lifter to transfer the jars to a clean, folded dish towel to cool for several hours.
Label and date the sealed jars. Let the pickles cure for at least a week (they’re even better after two weeks.) Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.
Notes: Water-bath canning safely seals high-acid, low-pH foods in jars. The time for processing in the water bath is calculated based on the size of the jar and the consistency and density of the food. For safety’s sake, do not alter the jar size, ingredients, ratios or processing time in any canning recipe. If moved to change any of those factors, simply put the prepared food in the refrigerator and eat within a week.
Fill a large canning kettle or deep stockpot two-thirds full with water. To keep the jars from rattling against the pot, place a rack in the pot. (A cake rack works well; a folded dish towel is equally effective.) Sanitize the jars in a short dishwasher cycle or by boiling them in a canning kettle or pot for 10 minutes. Fill a small saucepan with water and add the rings. Bring to a boil over high heat, slip in the lids and turn off the heat.
Use a jar lifter or tongs to lower the filled, sealed jars into the boiling water bath, keeping them upright. When all of the jars are in place, the water should be 1 to 2 inches above the jar tops. Add water as needed. Bring the water to a low boil before starting the timer for processing.
At the end of processing, turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water bath until the boiling has stopped. That will reduce siphoning, in which the food burbles up under the lid, breaking the seal. Use the jar lifter or tongs to transfer the jars to a folded towel, keeping them upright. Leave the jars until they have completely cooled, at least 12 hours. Remove the rings and test the seal by lifting each jar by the lid. The lid should hold fast. Label and store in a cool, dry, dark space.
Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.