Note: You can adjust both the 1) bean and corn ratio and/or 2) overall amount to your preference; just be sure to have a large enough crock. As for coarse salt, the general rule of thumb is ½ cup of salt per gallon of water, or 2 tablespoons per quart. —Ariel Lauren Wilson
ears of corn; shucked and silked
half runner beans; strings removed and “broken” into 1-2” pieces
Pickling salt; do not substitute with iodized salt (the mixture will not pickle)
5-gallon stoneware crock
“dinner plate;” it should be able to fit inside the crock
Enough filtered tap water (water Brita or Mavea pitchers works well)
Enough string to tie around the rim of the crock
1 or 2 Mason jars filled with water that will fit inside the crock
In This Recipe
Make sure that the Almanac signs are in the head or heart.
Wash your crock with a 50 percent solution of distilled, white vinegar and water. Rinse with very hot water.
Cut the kernels off the corn cobs by holding an ear by the small end, propping it vertically on a cutting board, and sliding a knife down the surface. Place kernels in a large bowl and set aside.
Sprinkle enough pickling salt into the crock to cover the bottom. Starting with either the corn or the beans, create a 1.5” layer. Sprinkle enough pickling salt to cover this layer; the salt layer should be visible. Using the second vegetable, create another 1.5” layer. Again, sprinkle enough pickling salt to cover this layer. Repeat these steps, while continuing to add pickling salt between each layer, until either all beans and corn have been added, or until you have at least 6”of room between the top layer and the rim of the crock. Cover the final layer with salt.
Cover the top layer with the cheesecloth and tuck the edges between the sides of the mixture and the interior surface of crock. Cover the cloth with a dinner plate. Fill two quart-sized canning jars with water, close, and lay horizontally over the plate.
Pour enough room temperature, filtered tap water into the crock to almost cover the canning jar weights. Cover the top of the crock with the second cheesecloth and secure around the rim of the crock with the string.
Let the crock sit undisturbed in a relatively cool, dry and dark place for nine days (according to taste -- the crock can rest for two weeks).
When you are pleased with the brine’s taste, remove the cheesecloths, canning jars and plate. Skim off the top layer of water. If there is a small layer of mold, it can be discarded (if the entire crock has soured or seems overrun with mold and/or bugs, then use toss the entire batch).
Store your fermented vegetables in the fridge, or in a cool place in the root cellar. According to Amanda Feifer of Phickle, who frequently cites Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation tome, “The colder temperature will slow but not stop fermentation. The longer it sits, the more acidic it will get. Keeping ferments in fitted containers will help keep them fresh for longer. That sizing down of jars and making sure that the vegetables stay under a thin layer of brine will give you a very long fridge life. Higher salt content will also help preservation. You can also leave them at room temperature and eat them from the jar, but they will continue to sour much more rapidly [than if kept in the fridge]... The test for fermenty goodness is always your senses: if it looks good, smells good and tastes good, it is good.”
After growing up on her family's farm in western North Carolina, Lauren has not wandered too far away from food and farming. She majored in Food Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she eventually made her way to live in study (read: eat, drink, and make cheese) in Dijon, France. Back stateside, she's interested in sharing the stories of nearby folks who bring us our food and drink. She'll never turn down a smear of Epoisses, cornbread, or a full-bodied cup of coffee.