Monday, August 19, 2013

Mean Green Beans and Pickles

Looking back on it, I see that this recipe is strictly vegetarian!  Oh well, I make it a lot and they go GREAT with meat dishes so... pay attention!  This recipe will make some awesome hot & spicy pickles, in a one-gallon container.  I like it because I happen to have a glass jug with a tight lid, that holds a gallon.  It's tough to break this recipe out to 8 pint sized mason jars, but you can try if you want.

You'll need:
  • 1 Gallon Container (glass, plastic, or ceramic) with an air-tight lid
  • 1 Gallon of Baby Cucumbers or Green Beans
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Salt
  • 4 Cups Distilled White Vinegar
  • 4 Cups Purified Water
  • 1 Large Red Onion, sliced into rings
  • 20 Whole Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 "Bunch" of Fresh Dill
  • 2 Fresh Jalapeno Peppers, sliced into Rings
  • 1 Fresh Habanero Pepper, sliced in half
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Peppercorns

In a heavy pot, add the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar and stir to dissolve.  You can dissolve it faster if you use pickling salt, and if you heat up the solution.  However, you'll need to cool the solution to room temperature before you use it.  Meanwhile, find a helper who is creative and who has small hands (hands small enough to fit through the portal of your pickling vessel).  Place a ring of the onion on the bottom of the jar, and stand up the green vegetables around the edge and in the middle of the jar.  They tend to fall over, so you'll need some patience.  You might find that it helps to lay the jar on it's side first, to send in the first "troops."

Once the bottom layer of your beans (or cucumbers) is packed in and standing at attention, add a layer of dill, garlic, peppercorns, and chili peppers.  Repeat the process with another layer of beans/cucumbers followed by the spices and peppers.  Once your jar is packed with veggies and you don't have enough space left to slide in even one single additional green bean, you're ready to pour on the liquid.  Make sure the liquid isn't hot or you'll cook the contents of the jar, and things will end up mushy instead of crunchy! Don't worry, the liquid will not fill the jar, just top off the space with cool clean drinking water.

I like to hold back one last "disk" of red onion for the tippy-top, just before screwing on the lid.  Now, you're done!  Leave it out on the counter and spin it upside down every 12 hours or so.  After 3 days, put the jar in the refrigerator and eat them whenever you feel like it.  When you unscrew the jar for the first time, you'll find the onion there, on top.  That's the best!  Make sure it goes to the guest of honor at the table.

Don't worry if the garlic cloves turn blue.  It's a reaction of the sulfur in the garlic to the pickling liquid.  It is perfectly safe to eat.

Note: As you might surmise, splitting this recipe up across 8 mason jars would be a bit of a chore, considering they'd have to share a single Habanero Chili.  If you make an attempt to cut one of these orange beauties into 8 pieces, I strongly suggest two things:
  1. Wear gloves.  Handling these peppers after you cut them open can turn your next bathroom visit into a long moment of pure agony.
  2. Try to cut and portion the white pith inside as carefully as the orange flesh.  That's where the heat is.

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