Old-fashioned dilly beans are zesty pickled string beans simply flavored with dill, garlic, and spicy pepper flakes.
I remember the first time I tried dilly beans. It was at a cookout with friends who were astonished that I had never had them. At their urging, I pulled one of the beans out of the jar with a fork and nibbled on the end to taste it.
It was so good!
I found myself drawn to the jar time and again throughout the day and enjoying the crunchy, vinegary, and intensely flavored dilly beans.
Dilly beans are one of the easiest canning recipes. Because you are pickling the beans, all you need is a large pot or water bath canner. I used an 8 quart tall sauce pot with an 8-inch canning rack that holds 4 pint-sized canning jars.
Serve dilly beans as a side dish as you would pickles, layer them into sandwiches, or include on a cheese board or antipasto platters. Of course, whenever you have a craving, go ahead and snack on dilly beans right out of the jar.
Tips for Making Dilly Beans
Use fresh beans
Fresh string beans will stay crispy when pickled. Skip the limp beans at the supermarket and use freshly harvested beans from your garden, a friend’s garden, or farmers market.
Select the small to medium sized string beans for making crispy dilly beans that snap when you bite into them. Avoid the large, seedy pods because they tend to be tough when pickled. You’ll need 2 pounds of string beans to fill 4 pint jars.
Use canning salt
Table salt contains iodine and anti-caking agents that can darken food and make the jars cloudy. Pickling salt, also known as canning salt, is just pure granulated salt (sodium chloride) with no additives.
Type of vinegar for pickling
Use commercial vinegar with at least 5% acidity for pickling. The most common types used for canning are apple cider and white vinegar.
- Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples and adds a slightly sweet apple flavor to pickled foods, but it will slightly darken your dilly beans.
- White vinegar is clear vinegar made by distilling corn and rye. The flavor is sharper than apple cider vinegar. Choose an organic brand of white vinegar to avoid genetically modified corn.
Cut the beans to fit the jar
Trim the string beans to fit the jars and remain submerged in the pickling solution. The trimmings can be frozen and used to make homemade stock.
Equipment needed for canning dilly beans
- Water bath canner or a large pot (8 quart tall) with a rack
- 4 pint sized canning jars
- Lids and bands
- Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as kitchen towels, a large bowl, medium pot, knife, and cutting board
How to Can Pickled Dilly Beans
If you are new to canning or haven’t canned in a while, it may be helpful to review this article on water bath canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Step 1: Prepare your canning equipment
Wash the jars and lids in warm, soapy water, and rinse well. Place the jar rack into a water bath canner or large pot. Add water to cover the jars and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off heat and add the lids to the warm pot to soften. Keep warm until you are ready to can the dilly beans
Step 2: Prepare the string beans
Wash the beans under cold running water. Trim off the ends and cut the beans to 4-inches to fit the jars and leave 1/2-inch head space.
Step 3: Make the pickling brine
In a large pot, combine the salt, vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep the brine warm.
Step 4: Pack your jars
Remove the jars from the canner, drain the water, and line up on a kitchen towel.
To each jar, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 clove of garlic, and 2 teaspoons dried dill seeds or 1 head of dill.
Pack the string beans tightly into the jars.
Step 5: Ladle hot pickling liquid into the jars
Pour the hot pickling liquid over the string beans, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Depending on how tightly you packed your string beans, you may not use all the brine. Remove air bubbles with your bubble popper and wipe the rim. Add the lids.
Step 6: Process your jars
Place the jars back into the water bath canner, adjust the water level, bring the canner to a boil, and process the jars.
Let the canner cool, remove the jars, and let them cool completely. Allow 2-4 weeks for the dilly beans to develop their flavor. Use within a year. Date, label, and store in a cool location.
Old-Fashioned Pickled Dilly Beans
- Prepare your jars and lids by washing in warm, soapy water, and rinsing well. Place your jar rack into a small water bath canner or large pot. Add water to cover the jar and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off heat and add the lids to the warm pot to soften.
- Rinse the string beans and cut into 4-inch pieces to fit in the jar.
- Combine the salt, vinegar, and water and a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the warm jars from the canner, drain, and place on a kitchen towel.
- To each jar, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 clove of garlic, and 2 teaspoons of dried dill seeds or 1 head of dill.
- Pour the hot pickling liquid over the string beans, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles with your bubble popper and wipe the rim. Add the lids.
- Place the jars back into your water bath canner, adjust the water level so it is 2-inches above the top of the jar. Bring the canner to a boil, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, allow the canner to cool, remove the jar, and place it on a kitchen towel to cool. Check seals and store in a cool, dark location. Allow 2-4 weeks for the dilly beans to develop their flavor.
- Once the jar is open, store in the refrigerator for up to 2-weeks. Recipe makes 4 pints.
You May Also Like
- Granny’s Bread and Butter Pickles
- Pressure Canning Green Beans
- How to Save Bean Seeds to Grow Next Year
Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden
Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.