Green beans are one of my favorite do-it-yourself veggies. They are so easy to plant and grow, it would be silly NOT to grow them. I’ve only been gardening for about five years, and beans are the one vegetable that I can almost always count on thriving wildly, even if my thumb is usually blacker than it is green.
My yearly favorite has always been Blue Lake bush beans, a known superstar which provides bean crops all summer long, but this year I stepped outside of the box a little. Inspired to experiment with varieties after a gardening friend sent me seeds, I grew yellow wax beans and an awesome heirloom called dragon tongue beans. I’ve realized there is a huge selection of beans to try growing beyond the typical Blue Lake, and it’s opened up a new world! It’s especially wonderful to try growing heirloom types, because the seeds can be saved year after year. No matter what types I ultimately decide are my personal top choices, beans will be a priority in my garden every summer.
Beans are not only fun and easy to grow, they are easy to preserve. While canning is a popular option, I often keep it simple by trimming and freezing them in 2-4 cup portions, giving my family beans all winter long to grab and toss in soup, or braise with garlic and olive oil.
Another delicious way to preserve green beans is to ferment them. Guess what? Yep, you got it…it’s one of my all-time favorite ferments! Green beans (and other varieties of pole and bush beans) stay so crisp when you pickle them. The cool thing about this recipe is that you can use any bean you like, or mix them up in the jar. I really love the way green beans and yellow wax beans look nestled together in a quart jar, or on my plate. Pretty, and SO delicious.
You’ll love these peppery, garlic-y, crunchy bites of fermented goodness!
This particular ‘recipe’ was inspired by my friends at Young Urban Homesteaders, a dynamic couple who love to spread the word about fermented foods in our community (along with many other fantastic projects).
Garlic Pepper Green Beans
• clean quart mason jar
• 2 c. filtered water
• 1 T. mineral-rich salt
• green beans (of any variety), left whole or cut
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 t. peppercorns
1. Start with clean hands and tools. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, combine water and salt until completely dissolved, then set aside.
2. Place garlic and pepper in the bottom of the jar, then fill with green beans. Pack the beans in gently, to maximize the space you have in the jar, until the beans are almost at the top (leave about an inch of headroom). Slowly pour in the salt-water brine, poking gently with the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick to remove air bubbles. Top the beans with a weight, leaving one inch of airspace, then put a lid and airlock on the jar.
3. Allow the beans to ferment, out of direct sunlight and away from extreme temperatures, for about a week, then taste. I love them best after one week, but you can certainly allow them to ferment longer if you seek a stronger flavor. Just be sure to check every other day or so, making certain no mold is forming and that the brine is not overflowing.
4. When the beans reach the flavor you love, remove the airlock, place a lid on the jar, and keep your scrumptious bean-pickles in the fridge for 6 months to a year.