Lots of harvesting, pickling, freezing and canning going on around here and it’s only the first of August! I was thinking of writing about green beans, one of my favorite vegetables…fresh, frozen or pickled! Then I opened my Old Farmer’s Almanac to the month of August and found this ode to Dilly Beans. So I’m just going to share a much more eloquent essay than I could ever write…and get back to my canning.
“Vegetable gardening, even on a small and casual scale, is an expression of the will to provide. The gardener wishes to do for himself, to supply some of his own basic needs, even if only to a very limited extent. This is an admirable ambition, to be sure, but the impuse to provide can be carried over the line.
In gardening, for me, this line has always lain somewhere near the border between growing fresh produce and preserving the harvest. In particular, my downfall has been green beans. Beans are easy to grow, and when they begin to produce, they arrive not in convenient increments, but in a tidal wave.
Fortunately, everybody on this place loves dilled beans, pickled with plenty of spices and garlic. The brining and canning of them, however, takes some doing. Too often, I fall behind the bean wave. Crisp, youthful dilly beans are among the garden’s treasures; but elderly dilly beans are not, and the difference between them is a day or two, no more. Get behind the wave, and you might as well use your beans for slingshot ammunition. You might, but I don’t.
This is where the will to provide comes in. However old, however neglected my beans may be, I put them up anyway. I’ve dilled beans when the process was less akin to preserving than it was to embalming. A sane and commendable thrift has crossed into folly, and I have gone with it.”
— reprinted from The Old Farmer’s 2010 Almanac