Julie Rothman / The Baltimore Sun

Barbara Daniel of Cross Lanes, W.Va., was looking for a “good old” recipe for making pickled green beans. She said that her grandmother always made them, but most of her recipes are long gone.

Gene Fisher from Baltimore sent in a copy of an article from The Backwoodsman magazine written by Benny Finch that had good basic information on canning and pickling, as well as his recipe for making crisp dill pickled green beans. As the article states, many people are again looking into canning as a method of preserving their garden harvest or farmers' market purchases.

Canning is really not all that difficult and one doesn't need an expensive canner to pickle or put up jams and jellies. A large soup pot will work just fine, so long as it is deep enough to allow the water to cover the jars with about an inch of water to spare. It is important to have a rack that fits inside the pot for the jars to sit on so that the boiling water can circulate under each jar, allowing for more uniform heating.

Finch suggests using a long, stringless bush variety of snap beans such as Contender or Blue Lake. If you don't have your own garden, you should be able to find them at your local farmers' market into the fall. Look for a stringless variety that has a nice snap when you break it.

So long as you don't object to your house smelling like vinegar for a few hours, an afternoon spent putting up beans or other fresh vegetables can happily yield a bounty that will last well into the winter. The biggest challenge may be waiting the two weeks for the beans to pickle before eating them.


Greg Brown from Belleville, Ill., is looking for the recipe for a cookie that his grandmother made when he was young. It looked like a small white pillow and was basically inedible unless it was dipped in hot coffee. He thinks his grandmother may have used a springerle rolling pin or mold to make the cookies, though they did not have a licorice flavor like a traditional German springerle cookie.