whole food ~ well made

The Best Dilly Beans from the Real Canning Experts

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.


and become a forager

Lydia’s Dilly Beans

I’ve used this as a master pickling recipe for many other vegetables besides beans, including beets. Just follow the ratios for the brine and vary the spices with others or herbs you love.
Course Preserves
Cuisine American
Keyword dilly beans
Servings 7 pints
Author lynnes


  • 7 sterilized canning jars with lids
  • boiling water canner


  • 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.


  1. Sara

    Thanks for sharing Aunt Lydia's recipe! Dilly beans are a staple around here and we had crop failure so I just put up a "wanted" poster letting people know I'm on the hunt for beans. Let me know if you are aware of anybody with bean overload…

  2. Lynne

    I sure will. Good luck hunting.

  3. Brian

    "How did you do it–when you really needed to–with all those children at your feet?"

    Without a Cuisinart!

  4. Lores

    OK…My first time ever canning dilly beans and I chose this recipe. 6 pints done and can’t wait to try them. Will have to come back for a taste rating but for now, I will give it 5 stars! Also, how long before they can be taste tested? 2 weeks???

    1. I’m honored, Lores! Two weeks is the standard recommendation, but you could probably “cheat” and taste test them after 7-10 days.

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