While camping in the Cariboo, my friend Kyla extolled the virtues of natural fermentation vs. pickling – and when I got home, there were five pounds of beans of pole beans in need of immediate picking. What better time to give fermentation a try?
So I trimmed up those green beans, blanched them, and added them to a 2 gallon crock* (about four pounds once the too-fat beans were taken out and the ends were off). Mixed in there were five cloves of garlic and about 8 dill sprigs plus 8 small dried chili peppers (garlic and chili from my garden as well). After getting that all layered in the crock, I covered the whole lot with a salty brine (4 cups to two tablespoons of no-additive (canning) salt, dissolved and then cooled). This two gallons took about 12 cups of brine.
To seal the top I filled a zip-lock with water and put that down on top of a clean plastic bag. The goal is to keep the beans from floating above the brine.
Now they are doing their thing in the crock. It’s been three days and when I checked this morning there were bubbles! That’s a sign that the fermentation process is happening. Apparently this will go on for a couple of weeks until the beans taste like a sour pickle and then I can put them in sterilized jars with brine and then onto my canning shelf. No need for a water bath because the brine does the preserving.
I have no idea whether I will enjoy these, but I have to honestly say that pickled beans aren’t entirely my favourite thing. I’ve been looking for a different way to preserve them (and I love deli pickles which are always of the fermented variety). I’ve got another batch to be picked and those I will blanch and freeze for use in winter stews and soups.
I’m also planning to do sauerkraut if this experiment is even marginally successful.
* Last year I bought three antique Medalta crocks off Craiglist for $70, which was a tremendously good price (1 G, 2 G and 5 G) partly because they didn’t have lids (most listed don’t have lids or they sell for a lot more). These are one of the best purchases I have ever made and if you can pick yourself up some on a deal, they are non-reactive, and sturdy as all-get-out, easy to clean, etc. I have never once needed a lid for them (plate, bag, cloth have always done it).