Summer food for me is all about bounty. There is so much fresh, healthy food available, I worry about how I can enjoy as much as possible more than the idea that I might not have access to it at all. I cook fresh meals for myself, and spend a lot of time putting things up for winter, like these simple Dilly Beans. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Sometimes I have so much fresh produce in the house, I have a hard time deciding what to cook next. Making dinner is a joy, not a worry, because my choices are so vast and diverse.
But for millions of American kids and families, summer is about the opposite of bounty. It’s a frightening time, when the school lunch program is not an option, parents worry about how they can feed their families, kids have to skip meals and they don’t get the proper nutrition growing bodies need. Summer is a struggle, not a carefree holiday.
Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Summer Meals campaign works to combat this problem. So do your local food banks, and many food pantries are faced with empty shelves in the summer months when demand is high. So as we all enjoy the beauty and bounty of summer cooking, please remember those who don’t have that pleasure. Donate to Share Our Strength or your local food bank. Organize a food drive in your neighborhood or workplace. I think there is an idea for a fun summer project for the kids in there! Please, share ideas you have for helping local kids and communities in the comments section.
Old fashioned versions of this always look so pretty with full heads of dill tucked inside, so if you have dill growing or a place where you can buy full dill seed heads, use about three of those with one dill sprig.
¾ pound fresh green beans (enough to fill a quart jar)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
4 Tablespoons canning salt or 3 Tablespoons table salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon dill seed
2 cloves garlic
4 – 5 stalks fresh dill
Trim the ends off the beans, making sure they are a length to stand in the jar. Blanch the beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and cover with ice cubes to stop the cooking. Toss the ice around to get to all the beans. Drain.
Clean a one quart jar with two piece lid. Stack the beans, the garlic cloves and the dill sprigs in the jar. I find it easiest to do this with the jar on its side, so the beans stack on top of each other and stay upright.
Bring the vinegar, water, seeds, salt and sugar to a full rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes. Carefully pour the liquid over the beans in the jar to cover, leaving a ¼ inch head space at the top. Immediately put on the top and screw on the band. Leave to cool 8 hours or so, then refrigerate. There may be more pickling liquid than you need, just discard the remainder.
To can the beans for longer term storage, process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes immediately after pouring in the hot vinegar and screwing on the lid and band. Here are step by step instructions for canning.