(this is a view inside my crock of the beans I did yesterday, the coloring is weird due to the flash)
Charlotte asked for more information on these so here is what I can tell you. This is the first time I have made these myself so I am definitely no expert.
Here in Germany this is a traditional method for preserving green beans. You can even buy packages of salted green beans in the grocery store as an alternative to canned (there really is no comparison, the salted beans are far superior). They taste fantastic and retain a great deal of their nutritional value. You have to soak them in water for about 30 minutes prior to cooking to remove the bulk of the salt or they are really inedible. I dump them in a sauce pan, rinse them several times with cold water and then leave them to soak in cold water for about 30 minutes. Then drain, rinse again and add enough water for cooking . I usually cook mine slowly for 30 minutes or so, it just depends on how tender they are, I check them frequently as they cook. I think that the salt causes them to cook a bit more slowly.
I found a paragraph dealing with salted green beans in John Seymour’s book on Self Sufficiency so that is what my first attempt is based on. You need a ceramic crock. For people in the US, you can find them here. I’m not sure where you would find these in the UK. You need preserving salt. Any salt will work but the course grained salt is nicer. John recommends 1lb salt for every 3lb green beans. This salt quantity is a lot higher than what I use for sauerkraut but I think that is because with such a large amount of salt, the beans are not being fermented, they are actually being preserved, just as they are going into the crock. The nice thing about this method is that you can add more beans every day, all through your harvest instead of having to save them and prepare them all at once.
So here is how you do it…Wash your crock with super hot water and soap, rinse well, set aside to dry. Wash your beans in cold water. Then string them, cut the ends off and any bad spots you find. Then they need to be sliced lengthwise. If your beans are very thick and tough, you might want the slice them even more than once. Just slice directly down the middle, lengthwise, cutting them in half. You can also cut them into 2″ lengths or leave them long, it’s up to you. Start your layering with an initial layer of salt on the bottom of the crock then comes your first layer of beans. I did my layers in increments of 1lb beans then 4 0z salt (500g beans 110g salt) After each layer, I lightly tamped mine down…*lightly*…. John did not say to tamp them, he said press them and pack them down tightly…I chose to tamp them a bit.
Just keep adding to the crock until you’re harvest is over, or until your crock is full (leave about 1″ space to the top of crock). Remember to keep water around the lid so no bad things (bactieria etc.) can get in. Store in a cool place and then just take some out as you need it. John did not specify a “resting” time for the beans so I assume you can use them just as soon as you’d like. I decided that I would let mine rest for at least a month before I start using them. That’s just a personal preference…one of those “it feels right” things.
I finished putting my beans up last night. Mine were store bought, but I just wanted to try the method once befor doing my own beans next year. I ended up putting up 4lbs. That didn’t even fill my crock to the half way mark, but it is enough to test. I’ll let you know how they taste in a month or two :))
So there you have it! Go forth and salt beans!