My fridge is starting to look like something from a mad scientist’s (well, maybe botanist’s) lab. I’ve been pickling, and a plethora of jars of pickled jalapeno peppers, green beans and cukes greets me whenever I open up the fridge door.
Pickling is a fantastic way to way to use an overabundance of veggies (don’t look at me like that – I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been at the market when the peppers just looked too pretty to resist and overbought) or give veggies a bit of extra flavor to freshen up recipes. I’ve focused mostly on refrigerator pickles (pickles that are meant to be kept in the refrigerator for a short period, as opposed to canned and stored in the pantry long term). The time investment needed to put up a batch of refrigerator pickles is almost non-existent. Boil up a brine, while it’s heating wash and trim the vegetables, put it all in a jar and … you’re done. Also, you can put up a small batch, answering the age-old question of what to do with those extra string beans that you didn’t need for last night’s dinner.
A blog that I’ve really been enjoying lately, Food in Jars, has a recipe for pickled string beans, but it uses dill, which I loathe. My version, based on that recipe, has a few different flavors thrown in, including some smokiness from one of my favorite ingredients – smoked paprika. If, unlike me, you are not lucky enough to have a cousin-in-law who sells fantastic dried hot peppers, use any kind of hot pepper you like.
REFRIGERATOR SMOKY STRING BEAN PICKLES
- 1 1/4 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 3 very hot small dried chili peppers
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 small onion, sliced
- 5 ounces string beans -trimmed to fit in your can
- 3 bay leaves (optional)
- Sterilize, or clean really well, a glass pint jar with a lid.
- Combine the vinegar, water, salt and garlic in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat simmer for 5 minutes.
- After the brine has simmered for five minutes, take out half of the garlic and put it in the bottom of the jar with the peppers and paprika.
- Pack the beans and the onion slices into the jar.
- Pour in the brine and the remaining garlic. Pour in enough brine so that there’s just about a quarter inch of head space. Since you won’t be processing the pickles, head space isn’t really as important, but you do want everything covered by the brine.
- Put the bay leaves over the top surface of the brine and screw the top on tightly.
- Refrigerate a few days for the flavors to blend before using.
- Store in the refrigerator.
Yield: One pint jar.