Flavorful, snappy, pickled green beans at home in as little as 48 hours. These quick pickled green beans (refrigerator pickled beans) are the perfect addition to Caesars, sandwiches, salads or charcuterie boards. This recipe does not result in shelf stable pickles-they must be stored in the fridge. Makes 2 pints.
Whenever I smell hot vinegar, I am reminded of my childhood. When September would roll in, my mother and I would spend days at a time peeling crates of pearl onions and prepping an array of beautiful market and garden vegetables for pickling.
The process always seemed complicated and intimidating as a child, however creating bright crunchy pickles at home is surprisingly simple with the quick pickling method.
What are Quick Pickles
Quick pickling is a time saving method of preserving that essentially uses vinegar to brine and preserve food. There's no lengthy fermentation period or heat processing needed.
Quick pickles are also referred to as refrigerator pickles. As their name implies, they need to stay in the fridge and can't be stored on the pantry shelves unlike heat processed or canned pickles.
Quick Pickling vs Lacto-Fermenting
There are countless recipes for the perfect pickle- a quick google search will tell you that. However, did you know that there are only two main methods to for pickling?
The two methods are are salt-water brining (lacto-fermenting) or immersion in vinegar solution (quick pickling). Both methods are great, but have some differences.
In short, salt-water brining (lacto-fermenting), involves beneficial bacteria converting a foods natural sugars and starches into lactic acid- this forms an acidic and probiotic-rich brine which prevents food spoilage.
Vinegar pickling (quick or sometimes called refrigerator pickling), uses an already acidic solution (vinegar) to create an optimal preserving environment.
While the vinegar method lacks the beneficial bacteria and depth of flavour of fermentation, the process is faster and still produces a crunchy flavourful pickle. If lacto-fermentation seems intimidating, the vinegar or quick-pickling method might be your ticket to savouring that gorgeous sour sting of a good pickle.
What you'll need
You will need a few basic ingredients and equipment for making this recipe.
Equipment you will need:
- 2 wide-mouth 16 fluid ounce pint canning jars with lids and rings
- Paring knife and cutting board
- Small saucepan and spoon
Ingredients you will need:
- fresh green beans, washed
- pickling vinegar (7% acetic acid)
- filtered water
- pickling salt
- granulated sugar
- fresh dill or thyme
- black peppercorns
- mustard seeds
How to Make This Recipe
The first step is to sterilize the equipment and prepare the canning jars. In hot soapy water, carefully wash the two jars (including the lids and rings) and dry them thoroughly. Then place the jars, lids and rings into a large pot and carefully pour boiling over them to cover. Let stand for 5 minutes in the boiling water, then using tongs and heat proof gloves, carefully remove them from the boiling water, discard and excess, and allow them to dry completely.
Then, divide the herbs and spices between each jar.
Wash and prepare the green beans by trimming off the stems so they fit into the clean jars with a ½ inch of space left at the top of the jar.
Next, prepare an ice bath and add the trimmed beans to a medium pot of boiling water; blanch them for 1½ minutes. Carefully strain the hot beans, then submerge them into the ice bath for 1 minute. Remove and dry them thoroughly.
Pack the Jars & Prepare the Brine. You will need to tightly pack the blanched beans vertically into the jars, again leaving a ½ inch headspace at the top. The beans should be packed tight enough so they won't float once brine is added.
Then, mix and heat the brine and carefully pour or ladle it into the filled jars to within a ½ inch of the top, making sure the beans and fully immersed in the brine and there is enough space so that the lid won't touch the brine.
Seal and Store the beans by placing the lid and rings on each jar. Allow the jars to cool at room temperature then tighten the rings and place in the fridge to pickle for a minimum of 48 hours before consuming.
Tips to Make this Recipe Perfect
Choose the best green beans- great pickles start with great ingredients. You want to choose quality beans that are fresh, mature, firm, and blemish free with no signs of spoilage. Opt for green beans a little wider than a pencil. Discard any beans with any signs of spoilage, blemishes or imperfections.
Sterilize- all equipment and tools should be washed and sterilized thoroughly and then dried completely. This step helps to prevent any possible contamination. Also be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
Wash the produce - again this will help prevent possible contamination and help remove any unwanted pesticides or residues.
Prep the beans - Cut off the stems, but leaving the pointy ends. Trim the beans so they fit in the jars with a minimum ½ inch of space left at the top.
Blanch the beans- this helps retain their bright green colour and reduces foodborne pathogens.
Don't alter the brine ingredients - a high level of acidity is required to make sure the beans pickle correctly and to help prevent contamination. Most quick pickle recipes use a brine with a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar.
Make sure the brine is heated and mixed properly - A uniform acidity is required to help ensure the beans pickle correctly to help prevent contamination.
Tightly pack and fully immerse in the brine - it's critical that the beans stay submerged in the brine in order to pickle properly. Tightly packing the beans will help prevent any from floating upwards; any pieces that are not submerged in brine may develop mold or bacterial growth and compromise the jar.
Leave headspace - ensuring there is a ½ inch of space left at the top of the jar will help make sure you have enough room to fully submerge the beans and prevent any brine from overflowing or getting around the lid and ring. Note: leaving headspace is also important for creating a safe vacuum seal during the heat processing/canning process; while this recipe isn't for heat processed pickles, allow for the headspace for the reasons noted above.
Allow 2 days for pickling - I leave the beans for a minimum of 48 hours in the fridge before enjoying them; their flavour is best after this amount of time.
Store in the fridge - these quick pickles green beans need to stay refrigerated because there is no canning/heat processing involved- this recipe is NOT shelf stable. I also suggest making a note of the date you prepared them and keeping it on hand for reference.
How long will this recipe keep in the fridge?
This recipe will keep for up to 2 weeks (possibly longer) in the fridge, however I've found that they are best when consumed within 1-2 weeks. If you note any cloudiness, mold, fizzy bubbles, slime, or otherwise weird things happening, discard the quick pickled beans right away. And if you're ever in doubt, discard and don't take a chance.
Important Safety Notes
If you're new to the science of pickling and preservation, I recommend reading up on the topic (some resources below). As with any preservation method, it's important to familiarize yourself with best practices for avoiding contamination and knowing when a preserve may not be safe to eat.
All pickles carry some risk of food poisoning caused by bacteria, however, quick pickles are generally quite safe to eat. Always use your best judgment; if you note any cloudiness, mold, fizzy bubbles, slime, or otherwise indications of spoilage discard the quick pickled beans right away. And if you're ever in doubt, discard and don't take a chance.
Furthermore, you may want to be cautious when consuming pickles if you are pregnant, have a compromised or weakened immune system etc. Also, to be extra cautious, I prefer to keep these just for my husband and I, and not for our children.
Can this recipe be canned or heat processed?
No. This recipe has not been tested for safety with canning as it was designed to be a refrigerator/quick pickle recipe. If you want heat processed/canned pickled green beans, please follow a recipe specifically designed for that purpose.
Some of the ways I enjoy using these quick pickled beans are as follows:
- Caesar drinks
- Charcuterie boards
- Burger and sandwich toppings instead of standard pickles
- As a side
- As a quick snack all on their own
Pickling has a long history and was an important means of preserving food before refrigerators and freezers became common place.
These are a few of my favourite pickling and preserving resources. I recommend reading up on the fascinating art and science of pickling and learning more about at home pickling safety.
More Recipes to Enjoy
If you love this recipe, you may also enjoy some of these related recipes. I love to slice up these pickled beans and add them to the chickpea tuna salad!
Quick Pickled Green Beans (Refrigerator Pickled Beans)
Flavorful, snappy pickled green beans at home in as little 48 hours. These quick pickled green beans are great for Caesars, sandwiches, salads or charcuterie boards. Choose green beans which are firm, blemish free, and a little wider than a pencil. This recipe does not involve heat processing or canning which means the pickles are not shelf stable-they must be stored in the fridge. Makes 2 pints. See above notes regarding safety.
- 520 grams fresh green beans
- 1 ¼ cups pickling vinegar 7% acetic acid
- 1 ¼ cups filtered water
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt or kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 sprigs fresh dill or thyme washed
- 2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Prepare the Jars & Beans
In hot soapy water, carefully wash two wide-mouth 16oz pint jars (including the lids and rings). Place the jars, lids and rings in a large pot and carefully pour boiling water over them to cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then using tongs and heatproof gloves, carefully remove the jars, lids and rings from the water, discard any excess, and allow them to dry completely.
Divide the herbs and spices between each sterilized jar. Set aside.
Wash the green beans and trim off the stems so they fit into the jars with ½" headspace. Prepare an ice bath. Add trimmed beans to a medium pot of boiling water and cook for 1 ½ minutes. Carefully strain the hot beans, then submerge them into the ice bath for 1 minute. Remove and dry thoroughly.
Tightly pack the blanched beans vertically into the jars leaving a ½” headspace at the top. The beans should be packed tight enough so they won’t float once brine is added.
Prepare the brine
In a small pot, bring the vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a boil. Stir until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved.
Remove from heat and carefully pour or ladle the hot brine into the filled jars to within a ½” of the top, making sure the beans are fully immersed in the brine. Gently tap the jars to remove any bubbles then top with more brine if necessary.
Seal and Refrigerate
Place the lid on each jar and loosely screw on the rings. Allow the jars to cool at room temperature, then tighten the rings and place in the fridge to pickle for a minimum of 48 hours before consuming.
Quick-pickled green beans must be stored in the fridge. These are best eaten within 1-2 weeks, however, they may last longer. If you observe any cloudiness, mold, fizzing, bubbles, slime, or other signs of spoilage, discard the pickles and do not eat them. Quick pickles are generally considered quite safe to eat, however, use your best judgement and when in doubt, discard.
Kosher salt can be used in exchange for pickling salt so long as it does not contain any anti-caking agents or other additives.