Sunday, August 14, 2011

pickled beans

"I think we should pick a few beans tonight," Kenneth said Friday. I dutifully went out to the garden after dinner ... and came back with our two largest bowls overflowing. And that's with a pile of as-yet-unused Taproot beans still in the crisper drawer.

So, tonight is the official inauguration of the summer canning season, wherein I, barefoot and pregnant (well, this year at least), or Kenneth, barefoot but not as obviously pregnant, can be found canning at odd hours of early morning or late night to beat the day's heat.

Tonight I did three jars of yellow mustard beans, two of green mustard beans, and three of green dilled beans. The mustard beans are my mother-in-law's recipe, and like all such family-handed-down recipes, it's a little vague on the quantities (it doesn't say how many beans, for example). But it's a great pickle, one I had never tried before coming to Nova Scotia. Here's the recipe (and I don't think I'm giving away any family secrets here!):

Eva's Mustard Beans
3/4 c flour
6 T dry mustard
1 T turmeric
4 c white sugar
3 1/2 c vinegar
slightly cooked beans, cut in 2-inch pieces (hmmm, let's say about 5 500 ml jars' worth?)

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add vinegar. Heat until bubbling - but don't burn, my mother-in-law helpfully adds!

There aren't directions for canning but I followed the Benardin cookbook recipe for mustard beans which is very similar - boil for 15 minutes in a hot-water canner.

This is the first year I've tried dilled beans, so I used the Benardin preserving cookbook recipe. It's a great book and if you're interested in learning how to can produce, it's a must-have. It gives very detailed directions and has some great recipes. (You can pick it up beside the canning supplies at Canadian Tire; most of the recipes are also on the Benardin website.) It maybe errs on the side of overkill when it comes to boiling times, but unless you're doing this with your grandmother or mother-in-law who has been canning since she was in diapers and has never had botulism, it's best to follow the safe-but-sure directions.

I'll let you know in 3 months or so how these taste...

Even if you don't have a garden, pickles are a great way to make sure the Taproot abundance doesn't go to waste. And if you don't have the amounts the recipe calls for, it doesn't really matter; you'll throw out a bit of the sauce/brine, but vinegar and sugar are pretty cheap. And the pickles are well worth it come February turnip season!


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