Summer’s remnants

tomatoes in the gardenOur summer garden limped along this year, started late and plagued by under-watering (I couldn’t stem my drought fears, not even for veggies, and as we drift into fall our tomato plants are as dry and golden as our once-green lawn). Our exposure on the veggie boxes is not ideal, and our small gardeners prefer digging and whacking over, say, weeding and pruning. We managed to harvest red and gold and the occasional green tomato, chiles galore, huge handfuls of basil and thyme and cilantro, even a solitary yellow squash. Nothing like the careless, constant overproduction of our garden-from-before, but still something. We got our hands dirty, we watched things grow, we understood first-hand the crumbly, deep dryness of the droughtserrano chileThe last couple tomatoes are still hanging on out there, ripening in the slanting autumn sun despite our total inattention. We have moved on to other things, now. Kindergarten and preschool, yes yes. Also: long rambles with friends at our neighborhood park, where the drought has left just a slow trickle along the mostly-dry creek bed; lazy afternoons of popcorn and current-favorite game playing (Lucas’s and Jacob’s); or just coming home and sinking into worlds made with Lego people, or blanket fortresses, or colored pencils. We have been swimming, and bike riding, and even making pastries. It turns out the start of school still leaves us with time, for all sorts of magical things. Summer’s remnants cling to our days, ripening as we go … walking in the park creek walkOne of the most magical remnants of summer has been the green beans we have been pulling from jars and crunching through at an alarming pace. The original beans came from Ann, after she taught me and Eleanor how to make them at our summer canning day. But since then I have made another round, and since then I have slipped crispy-thin slices of cucumber into the brine left behind in green-bean-less jars. Those refrigerator-pickled cucumbers have been holding their own, but what I find myself waking up hungry for is the  vinegary, herbal, slightly hot crunch of these beans. I am not the only one who has eaten them for breakfast: the boys are possibly even bigger fans than I am. We are pickle people! Lucas says. (We are also corn-mon-the-cob people, french-fry people, and potato-people – but we’ll save that for another time.) lu bear loves green beansGreen beans are still everywhere at our markets, and hopefully at yours too. You wouldn’t know it, but the jar above was made with a purple-skinned variety; just like with regular cooking, the dilling turns them green. But what they lose in color they gain in deliciousness: snappy, sharp, and wonderful whether chopped into an egg salad, layered on a salami sandwich, or just plucked straight out of the jar. dilled green beansDilled Green Beans From a recipe shared with my by Ann Hestand (thanks Ann!) 2 pounds green beans Red pepper (cayenne) – 1/4 teaspoon for each jar 4 cloves garlic 4 generous sprigs fresh dill 2 cups water 1/4 cup canning/pickling salt 2 cups 5% acid strength cider vinegar You will also need: 4 sterilized wide-mouth pint jars with lids, a boiling water bath, and a small bit of basic canning know-how (like here or here). To each hot, sterilized jar, add 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper, one clove of garlic, and one generous sprig of dill. Wash and stem the beans, trimming ends as needed so that they will fit into pint jars. Pack into the jars – really pack them in! – with the blossom (pointed) ends down. Combine the water, salt and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, then (carefully!) pour the boiling brine into each jar of beans, filling it almost to the top but leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the jar rim and put on a lid and ring. Process in a boiling water bath for five minutes. (Start to count when the water in the canner returns to boiling.) Remove the jars and let them sit still and cool for 24 hours. If any of them don’t “pop” – put the jar into the fridge, and eat those ones first. You should let them sit for at least a week before eating. Very soon, the beans will be gone! Save the brine in the jars, and make refrigerator pickles with thin slices of cucumber, or bell pepper, or … lu bear beans

5 thoughts on “Summer’s remnants

  1. yum! I’ve been doing some vegetable pickles lately as well. I love the green beans, but I’ve also done a really successful batch of radishes – rice wine vinegar, and plenty of sugar and red pepper flakes for a spicy/sweet crunch.

    • I think the spicy/sweet/vinegar kick of a good pickle is … so good. It’s just so good. I wish I had more storage space, I would pickle everything! (I’ll admit I felt a little smug when I saw tiny jars of pickled green beans for $8 at the grocery store …)

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