A couple of months ago, I bought an enormous bag of dried curry leaf from Mountain Rose Herbs. It was one of those things: I’m either just not thinking, or I forget how very light dried herbs are, and I buy a 4 oz bag only to end up with a bag of dried herbs bigger than my head. After the bag-of-oregano-the-size-of-my-torso incident, you would think I would learn. You would be wrong.
The truly pathetic thing is, I know I bought the curry leaf for a reason: a specific recipe I’d been wanting to try, but could never find curry leaf. And now that I have a bag of it in the pantry that will last me approximately 20 years, I can’t for the life of me remember what I wanted to make. Don’t do drugs, kids. Just say no.
I even promised to send some off to my fellow blogging friends, which I haven’t managed to get around to yet. Curry for Christmas, perhaps? But in the meantime, I’ve been keeping a weather eye on recipes, and when, before I left for two weeks in San Francisco, I had a big pile of green beans to use up, I suddenly thought: “Why not make an Indian-spiced pickle, and use up some of that huge pile of curry leaf?” And so I did.
I should say here that dried herbs aren’t often used in pickle brine, because they have a tendency to disintegrate and muddy the brine. But, much like buying a torso-sized bag of herbs over the internet, I threw caution to the winds: we shall see how the brine holds up over time. All I know is: after 3 weeks of mellowing on the shelf, I cracked a jar for the Official Local Kitchen Pickle Tester (a.k.a. “Tai.”). He started with, “Hmm. They’re good. Spicy.” then moved onto to, “Mrrrph. They’re really good.” then, sadly contemplating the empty jar, “Are there more of these?” I guess they’ll do.
Indian-Spiced Pickled Green Beans
- 2 lbs green beans, washed and trimmed to fit your jars
- 2 ½ cups white vinegar
- 2 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup pickling salt (or heaped ¼ cup Kosher salt)
To each pint jar add:
- 2 tsp dried curry leaf
- ½ tsp black mustard seed
- ¼ tsp ground tumeric
- ⅛ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ⅛ tsp whole coriander seeds
- 2 black peppercorns
- 1 dried Arbol chile
- ½ a fresh green chile, split lengthwise
- 1 quarter-sized slice of fresh ginger, unpeeled
- 2 thin strips of lime zest
- 2 garlic scapes, with flower head, or 1 peeled garlic clove
- ⅛ tsp pickle crisp (optional)
- Prepare canner, jars & lids.
- In a large sauce pan, combine vinegar, water and pickling salt. Bring to a boil and stir until salt dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, until ready to use.
- Pack herbs, spices and flavorings into 4 hot pint jars. Add green beans, tapping and shaking the jar as you pack to settle the contents. Pack the jar tightly, such that the beans would not fall out if you were to turn the jar upside down (but test this only with a lid, as you’ll spill spices all over your counter. Ahem.), but not so tightly that you bruise the vegetables. Pack all 4 jars.
- Bring brine back to a boil. Using a funnel or glass measuring cup with spout, add boiling brine to each jar to ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Yields about 4 pints.
- If you can find fresh curry leaves, those would work as well. I would guess 2 to 3 leaves per jar.
- Fresh tumeric, about a quarter-sized slice, would also be a nice addition, as would fresh galangal.
- My pickle-loving friends tell me that Pickle Crisp isn’t really necessary for green bean pickles, as they stay fairly firm. I was just testing it out on this batch to see how it went. I’ll update on crispness after these have sat on the shelf for a while.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.