Author Notes: Lightly adapted from Kevin West's Saving the Season. A note on salt: volume measurements for salt vary dramatically from brand to brand, so weighing the salt is your best bet. That said, the 6 ounces called for here will equal about 3/4 cup of Morton's coarse flakes. On weighing: the crucial thing in fermentation is not to have the vegetables exposed to the air; you want them fully submerged in the brine. As West suggests, the easiest, least expensive way to do this is simply to fill a Ziploc bag with extra brine (a 5 percent salt-to-water ratio, just in case it leaks) and use the bag to push the beans down under the brine. It works surprisingly well. —Nicholas Day
Makes: 3 quarts
gallon bottled water
pounds small green beans
garlic cloves, crushed
flowering dill heads, or 4 to 6 dill fronds plus 2 tablespoons dill seeds (optional)
- Heat the water just until the salt dissolves. Cool to room temperature.
- Trim the stem ends from the beans. Then layer them and the other ingredients in either a 2-gallon crock or a couple of 1-gallon jars. Cover with the brine. Weigh the beans down -- see note above -- and place the crock or jars in a relatively dark place at room temperature. The crock or jars should be covered, but not tightly sealed, so that gases produced during fermentation can escape. If using a crock without a lid, cover it with a plate or board and drape with a clean dish towel. If using jars, screw lids on loosely or remove the rubber seal (if using the style of jar pictured).
- Bubbles will appear in 4 or 5 days. Skim any floating scum off the surface daily. (It's supposed to be there; don't let it worry you.) Taste occasionally. The beans should be fully pickled in about 2 weeks. Once they are ready, just refrigerate the beans in the brine. They will continue to ferment in the fridge, but at a much slower rate. Eat within a couple of months.
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