Benjamin’s Aunt Lydia is 89 years old, still lives on her own and has a better memory than all of us put together. (Case in point: She recently recalled the name of a horse in a photograph of her uncle dating from the 1920s.)
She also makes the best dilly beans. Ever.
I’ve been wondering what the women of her generation–and those a whole lot younger–think about the fact that canning is the hip new thing.
Yes, indeed. Sales of Ball canning jars are surging as everyone’s storing up on local fruits and veggies from the farmers’ market and, if they’re lucky, their own gardens.
It seems like we’re living through one of those cultural movements I learned about in high school history class (when I wasn’t passing notes, but hey, I ended up with a history degree after all). Instead of saving scrap metal and sacrificing panty hose, urban Americans are relearning an age-old skill.
Nothing new at all for most of the folks around here.
Lydia and my neighbors like Janie (70 something), Pam (50 something), and Annie (40 something) have been canning ever since they hit the county. No loaded huckleberry bush, peach or apple tree within sight is safe.
And if you stand around too long, you too might get pickled. They’ve taught me everything I know.
Lydia’s Dilly Beans
- 3 1/2 cups vinegar
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup canning salt
- fresh green beans
For each pint:
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1/2 teaspoon dill seed
- 1 clove garlic
Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover and keep hot. Meanwhile fill the canner half full with water and bring to a boil. Place the lids in a bowl.
Add the spices to each pint jar. Pack tightly with greens beans, trimming so that they are 1/2 inch below the rim. Pour the hot brine over the beans and wipe the rims. Cover the jars with the lids and screw on the rings finger tight.
Add the jars to the rack, lower into the water and put on the lid. When the water returns to a boil, set a timer for 10 minutes, maintaining a steady boil.
When the time lapses, lift the rack and use a jar lifter to remove the jars to a dish towel to cool completely. Check the seal, then remove the rings before labeling and storing the jars in a cool, dark location.