Dad’s Dilly Bean Recipe

Here’s an alternative to pickles made from cucumbers. Try pickling some beans! This dilly bean recipe works well on old, late-season beans that you don’t want to throw away.  Be sure to put lots of peeled garlic cloves in each jar.  They give the beans a great flavor and we fight over who gets to eat them when plating the finished product!  I inherited the pickling gene from my father, so he gets full credit for this one.  Someday, I’ll learn to make my own vinegar, too!

First, mix up a good quantity of the “pickle” or solution:

3 quarts water
4 c vinegar
1 c non-iodized salt


Get your canner ready. You’ll need enough water to cover your Ball Mason Jars with an inch or two of water.

Boiling jars in canner
Boiling jars in canner

Wash the beans and trim the ends. Cut any long beans so they fix nicely in the jars. Peel a couple of garlic cloves for each jar.

Dilly Beans
Washing beans

Once the jars are sterile, remove them one at a time and fill them. Throw in a couple of garlic heads, fill with beans, and neatly put a dill spring or head or two on each side of the jar. Do a nice job so the jars come out presentable.

Packing the Dilly Beans
Packing the Dilly Beans

In a small pot, boil some water to sterilize the lids. Don’t bother with the rings because they don’t come in contact with the sterile contents of the jars.

Heat the lids to soften the seals
Heat the lids to soften the seals

Once you have filled all your jars, carefully use a canning funnel to fill each of the jars with pickle. The pickle should come to within 1/2 an inch of the tops. Put a sterile lid on each jar and hold it in place with a ring.

Now, return the jars to the canner and start boiling. The water should cover the jars by an inch. The jars need to boil for 15 minutes for pint jars and 30 minutes for quarts.

Processing Dilly Beans in the canner
Processing Dilly Beans in the canner

After time’s up, carefully remove the jars, letting the water pour off the tops. Let cool on the counter on a folded bath towel. You should start to hear the lids pop down after a couple of minutes. Resist the urge to check if the popped with your finger!!! After the jars have completely cooled, put them in the cupboard for at least 6 weeks so the flavors can come out. Any jars of dilly beans that don’t “can”, need to be stored in the ‘fridge.

About John MacDowall

I was born in Poughkeepsie, NY. We moved to a farm during middle school where I learned about raising animals and growing food. Now, I live in the affluent suburbs of Washington, DC and wonder why people eat the way they do.

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