Sunday, August 17, 2008

Salt, Dill and Sunshine

I am sure my love all of all things pickled started at a young age with my family's annual visits to Florida to see my grandparents. My brother and I would mostly eat and swim (and avoid the cheek pinches that comes standard in all Fort Lauderdale retirement villages to anyone under the age of 22).
Lunch, served promptly at noon, would always include pickled green tomatoes or some kosher dills. My grandmother would exclaim to anyone that would listen (and this being the retirement village, most would!), that her grandchildren were eating her out of house and pickle.
"A jar a day!" she would exclaim, her voice full of pride.
We no longer make our annual voyage to Florida for our grandparents or the pickles, and I miss both. Up until a few years ago, I always knew my birthday would mean a jar packed with homemade pickles from my aunt. Her kosher dills were almost as good as the East Coast pickles. But, nothing will ever quite taste like the lunches eaten in soggy bathing suits, on Corningware dishes in the sunny kitchen with my grandparents.
Nonetheless, a girl needs her pickles. I had to keep myself supplied somehow.
12 phone calls, 3 pickling books, and one visit to my aunt later I now have jars of dilly beans, half sour pickles, and spicy pickled cauliflower waiting to join me at lunch.

Refrigerator Dilly Beans
These beans are meant to be kept in the fridge. If you use new, boiled lids, they will seal but, for food safety's sake, keep them in the fridge. If you like them spicy, add some chili flakes.
Start with:
2 large mouth quart jars, hot and sterilized
Pack with:
Enough trimmed, cleaned green beans to fill the jars. Stand them upright in the jar.
Divide the flavorings equally between the 2 jars, pack them among the beans:
2 heads of dill
4 garlic cloves, smashed, but not chopped
2 tablespoons pickling spices
2 inches of horseradish root, divided
2 bay leaves
10 black pepper corns (approximately) :)
chili flakes (if desired)

Boil until salt and sugar disolve:
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons canning salt
1/4 cup white sugar

Pour the hot liquid over the beans. Leave 1 inch of head room at the top of the jar. Seal with a lid and ring. Once cool, store in the refrigerator.
I tasted mine 12 hours later and they were great. The horseradish keeps the beans crisp.

PS. For some reason the horseradish turns the garlic bright blue after a few days. I have no idea why this happens, but it is safe to eat. No worries!

PSS. I pickled the cauliflower using left over brine. I packed the cauliflower with chile flakes, curry powder, pickling spices, and blackpepper. Then covered with the brine. Spicy!

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