Oh, how I long to be the cook that cans.
Like the little engine that could, I think I can, I think I can. But - I never do.
My patience for canning extends about as far as refrigerator pickles. I get a little antsy when I think about exacting temperatures and sanitizing jars and pH levels. I mean, pH levels?
'Quick pickling' is absolute music to my impatient ears. Fast and furious pickling, that's how I roll. It's also how I like to enjoy them. Rapido. I don't mean inhaling them quick-fire style. I mean that you won't find shelves lined with jars of colorful pickled and preserved fruits and veggies in my pantry. In part, because I live in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and don't have a pantry - I'm lucky I have a shelf. But also because after I cook something, I like to eat it. Not next winter. Now. Or tonight. Or, this weekend even - which is still kind of pushing it.
I sound a little like a bratty kid who grabs at candy bars and wants to eat them all now. What can I say? When I cook, I get excited for the end result. I work with a vision in my head, and I can't wait for it to be realized. I want to see the way the dish comes together and how it looks on the plate. I want to taste it and savor it and, in most cases, act as my own worst critic.
On a related note, I delight in giving gifts, and I'm not just saying that to offset the just described bratty version of myself. My problem with giving gifts has always been the waiting part. I enjoy thinking about how much my brother will love the red onesie pj's I got him - that's an actual gift from this past Christmas, please note, for the sake of a good visual, he's 6 feet something and 24 years old. But, I dislike the interlude between securing of said present and giving of same present. I am so excited to give it, I want to give it now.
I am noticing a distinct pattern.
Making a meal or a dish is a gift in its own right. One that people can enjoy together. Without question, it's a present to myself, too. And, just like my brother's Christmas footed pjs, I want to wrap it up, and make it look nice, but I want to offer it to be enjoyed immediately.
There is a line. It's not like everything I make needs to be cooked in 30 minutes or less. Not that there's anything wrong with that, Jamie or Rachael, in case you're reading. I'm appreciative of food that demands to be cooked low and slow or requires time and finesse. I'll brine a brisket for a whole week - but, you better believe that every single day I'm peeking in on it, my mouth watering as the excitement builds, thinking of the supporting players that will accompany it. Envisioning that corned beef in the pot and on my plate. And, when the process is done, I want to bask in the glory of that well cared for food, I don't want to put it aside for a rainy day four months from now.
In spite of all this, I want to have a can-do attitude when it comes to the art of preserving.
I want to change. But since Rome was for sure not built in a day, I give you almost-instantaneous dilly beans, perfect for the impatient cook, or eater, in your life. As I strive to become a more patient cook who will one day have a pantry full of preserves and pickles, these tasty beans are the best effort in pickling that I can offer in this moment. I got some really tender haricot verts, which is fancy for string beans, at the market last weekend. Firm and flavorful, they make for fantastically fiery dill-ridden pickles. Guaranteed, I will scoff this entire jar. And if I don't, I might have some leftover for a naughty weekend Bloody Mary.
Dilly beans bring back warm and fuzzy memories of family vacays to the Amish country in Lancaster, PA. I bet I could learn a few lessons in patience and pickling down there. Perhaps I should go back.
What you'll need for a 1 quart jar:
3 big handfuls fresh string beans, washed and trimmed
5-6 stalks fresh dill
2.5 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1 green chili, sliced into rounds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
Combine the vinegar, water, chili, garlic, salt, sugar and spices into a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for four to five minutes - stirring to ensure the sugar and salt dissolve completely.
Fill the jar with the trimmed string beans.
Remove the fronds of dill from the thick stalk, and add the dill to the jar.
Carefully pour the pickling juice into the jar, being sure to cover the beans and dill fully - the liquid should come just above the lip of the jar.
Seal tightly and refrigerate.
To let the flavors work a bit, I would let it sit in the fridge overnight before you go digging in, although I definitely had my fist in the jar for a sample before I went to bed. The beans will last, refrigerated and tightly sealed, for a couple of weeks.