Summer’s abundance seems to suggest that there will always be zucchini to cook and ripe tomatoes to eat, but the subtle change of light and shorter days hint that autumn is on its way. Like a squirrel preparing for winter, I start to hoard this time of year. I arrive home from the farmer’s market with bags heavy with green beans, squash, peaches, cucumber, and corn.
In the past, my splurges at the farmer’s market meant good things for my pantry. I sliced and pickled cucumbers, simmered tomatoes for roasted garlic tomato sauce on the stove, and blanched and shocked peaches for jelly. After hours of prep in a hot kitchen, there was nothing more satisfying than seeing my counter filled with mason jars bursting with the best of summer’s produce. Call me old-fashioned, but when I’m eating summer tomatoes in January you will be jealous of my canning prowess.
I am still hopeful that I will find a few hours to put up tomato sauce before summer’s end, but with toddler underfoot my time in the kitchen has become far more limited and I haven’t put up a single thing this summer. That, however, has not stopped me from over-buying at the farmer’s market.
A couple of weeks ago, I came home with 3 pounds of green beans. Brilliantly green, not a bad one in the bunch, I couldn’t help but buy several handfuls. Once home and faced with a mountain of beans, canning seemed the only option. Time was short though and instead of resorting to the hot water bath and the time intensive process of safely preserving food for long-term storage, I opted for the much quicker, yet still satisfying refrigerator method.
When making refrigerator pickles, you prepare them in the same way you would if you were canning them, but skip the step of processing the food in a hot water bath. When you skip this step, you must store the food in the refrigerator and it won’t keep nearly as long as its canned counterparts. Limited shelf life means you tend to work in small quantities making refrigerator pickles a good solution for cooks on the go.
Take these pickled green beans. No more than 30 minutes of prep yielded a big jar of pickled beans ideal for tossing in salads, garnishing Bloody Mary’s and happily enjoying straight from the jar. Just as good as their canned counterparts, my only regret is that I don’t have more pickled green beans waiting for me in the basement. Summer’s not over yet though and I’m headed to the farmer’s market. Happy cooking!
Quick Pickled Green Beans – Printer Friendly Recipe
Adapted from the recipe for “Lemon-and-Bay Leaf Bean Pickles” in The Better Homes and Garden Canning special interest publication (2012)
Makes 1 quart or 2 pints of pickles
In 2012, I was standing in line at the grocery store and started flipping through a Better Homes and Gardens special interest publication on canning. It featured over a hundred ways to preserve vegetables and fruits that were modern and creative. It came home with me that day and has been an impulse buy I haven’t regretted. It’s the resource I turn to again and again when I need inspiration or just a solid recipe for canning foods. I adapted this recipe from that publication.
If you are interested in learning more about canning, Minced blog has more recipes. There’s peach and jalapeno jelly, the roasted garlic tomato sauce that I mentioned earlier, and even a quick sweet and spicy refrigerator pickle. Enjoy!
1 ½ lbs green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 1/3 cups white vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
6 strips lemon peel
6 Turkish bay leaves
Combine the water, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Add the green beans to the boiling vinegar mixture and cook until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the beans, but reserve the cooking liquid.
Place the beans in a large, sterilized quart-size jar or divide between two sterilized pint jars. Add the peppercorns, strips of lemon peel, and bay leaves to the jar (or divide between the two jars) and then pour the cooking liquid over the beans and lemon peel. Stir to combine and make sure the liquid covers the beans (you may need to push the beans down to fully submerge them).
Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Pickled green beans will keep for about 1 month in the refrigerator.