Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dilly Beans and Dill Lore

The second picking of our Tenderette green beans yielded a half bushel, and since we don't need more canned beans, with 40 quarts in the cellar already, I decided to use these to make a family favorite: dilly beans.

These beans are crunchy and packed with flavor from dill, mustard seed and red pepper. They're simple to make too. My recipe is from my old and trusted pickling cookbook, a book I've had since the early 70's. It's where I learned about pickling, and I've tried a lot of recipes in it. from simple dills to pickled bananas and pickled crabappples. (These two are really more candied and spiced than pickled, and I like them both. Not so the rest of the family, sadly.)

To make the dilly beans: remove top and  tip of fresh snap beans. Pack into clean, sterilized pint jars with a head of dill, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed. You can use a whole red hot pepper and dried dill instead, whatever you have on hand. Boil 3 cups of water, 3 cups white vinegar, and 6 tablespoons of pickling salt. Ladle that over the beans in the jars, clean the jar rims and put on the lids and rims and tighten. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Here's a photo of the recipe I use:

Dill can be a useful herb to have around, and not just for cooking. People used dill as a protection against bad luck and evil, and often placed it in babies' cradles to keep the babies safe. Some carried little sachets of dill in their pockets, and in Greece some hung stalks of it in their homes.

Apparently dill was considered a valuable herb, one used to pay tithes, as mentioned in Matthew 23:23--

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (from the King James version).

A drink was made of dill and other ingredients to as a remedy for a bad spell cast on someone. Dill was also considered to bring financial fortune; perhaps the seeds reminded people of Lunaria, Money Plant.  Dill was once part of traditional wedding bouquets, thought to bring comfort to the nervous bride. And of course, in that apparently never-ending quest to attract a mate, dill was often included in love potions.

Some people still use dill to help with indigestion and to prevent infections.

The website AppreciateGoods gives the following dill trivia:

The Serbian proverb “bitimirodjija u svakoj Ĩorbi” (to be a dill in every soup) means ‘to be involved or be knowledgeable in many things’.
In ancient Greece, athletes used to apply dill essence over their body as a muscle toner before participating in the games.
During the medieval period in Europe, dill was believed to protect people from witchcraft and curses.
One tablespoon of dill seed contains more calcium than there is in one cup of milk.
In Sweden, dill is used to flavor potato chips, which they call ‘dillchips’.

So, back into the kitchen I go to finish the last batch of dilly beans. This house is smelling good!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

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