In a Pickle

Homemade pickled green beans in a giant mason jar.

If there’s one food-related love that I share with my grandmother, it’s pickles. There was never a Sunday dinner without some form of pickle on the table. Betty and I would debate the merits of the pickle du jour — too much dill, not enough garlic — while everyone else ignored them entirely.

Wandering through the farmer’s market on 4th of July weekend, I was suddenly overcome with the urge to pickle something. There were some lovely cucumbers at one of my favorite stands, but let’s face it, you can buy some really great pickles at the store. I wanted to do something unusual.

Green beans.

They seemed like the perfect pickling vehicle. They’re long and elegant, and would make a nice-looking side to summer sandwiches. I pulled out my iPhone, started searching for recipes, and came up with one that was simple and (as it turns out) pretty tasty.

Here are some things to consider before starting:

  1. Once you seal the jars, you need to simmer them in enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch. Don’t be like me. Measure the height of your jars and the depth of your pans before you begin. I can’t emphasize this enough. You don’t want to be scrambling for a deep pan at the last minute like… uh… some people.
  2. Smaller jars work well for gifts, and are also easier to simmer.
  3. In hindsight, I don’t think there is such a thing as too much garlic in a pickle. If you feel differently, cut the amount in the recipe.
  4. Fresh dill proved to be surprisingly hard to find. Make sure you have the dill before you go out and buy all the other ingredients, otherwise you’ll be driving around to every store in the area trying to score the last bunch of dill.

Ready to begin?



  • 3 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed to 1/4 inch shorter than your jars
  • 5 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 clove of garlic for each jar, peeled and smashed
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes or one whole red chile (dried) per jar


Sterilize the jars, rings and lids according to the manufacturer’s directions. Keep hot.

In a large saucepan, stir together vinegar, water and salt until dissolved. Add garlic and bring to a rolling boil.

In each jar, place a sprig of dill, a pinch of pepper flakes or one dried chile, and one garlic clove fished out of the boiling vinegar mixture. Arrange the green beans in the jars, standing on their ends. Ladle the boiling vinegar mixture into the jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the top.

Seal jars with lids and rings. Place in a hot water bath so they are covered by 1 inch of water. Simmer, but don’t boil, for 10 minutes to process. Cool to room temperature (I let mine sit overnight).

Test jars for a good seal by tapping on the lid; there should be no lid movement. Refrigerate jars that don’t seal properly. Properly sealed jars can be left in a cool, dry place to ferment for 2 to 3 weeks before eating. Definitely refrigerate after opening, but I also prefer to refrigerate them the night before cracking them open for the first time; I just prefer chilled pickles.


The Tiny Kitchen Assistant loves green beans and pickles, but was initially somewhat befuddled by the combination of the two. “They look like green beans but they taste like pickles! How did that happen?”

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