Pickled Beans- floating, and wrinkling need expert advise.

jen_riversAugust 27, 2006

I have now made 4 batches of hot pickled beans this season. Two sets in quart jars, 2 sets in pint jars.

Problem is they are floating to the top of the jars, and some have a wrinkly appearance. This morning I made a batch and forgot the pickled salt that is to be added to the water/vinegar solution. The beans where beautiful and didn't float at all. Can anybody tell me if the salt is essential. The recipe I use calls for 1/4 cup pickling salt, 2 1/2 cups vinegar, 2 1/2 cup water- and I now have done batches with 1/2" headspace, and 1/4 headspace. I pack the jars plenty tight so I just can't figure why they look this way. After forgetting the salt I wonder If I can use this method always or less salt and will get the better results. Please somebody tell me if the salt is essential, and if so why are my beans floating and wrinkly. I have seen them made and sold by others and they look great.

Thank you for any help ! Jen

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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

Sure not an expert, but I'd ditch the idea of quarts. I've done these dilly beans before, also similar garlic rosemary pickled beans, and the long beans are just about pint length and pack nicely in those sized jars. Yes, they do tend to float, but can't go far in the pint jars. They float because they're raw when you pack them. 1/4 inch head space is all that's required for pickles and relishes. Not sure why they're wrinkling. Are you using very fresh beans or keeping them a day or two in the fridge? Can make a lot of difference.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 11:38PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The wrinkling has me confused. I've known that to happen if the brine is too strong but your recipe looks fine in that regard. Freshness might be an issue, as gran2 suggested. It would be helpful if you would describe the recipe itself. What were the directions?


    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 2:41AM
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Could the beans have been in the BWB too long? Also maybe the boil was too rapid. The recipe sounds OK. Were they plain Pickled beans or Dilly beans like in the Ball Blue?
When canning mine, I cut the beans to fit to 1/2 inch from the top and pour liquid to 1/4. Also, I cut all the beans the same length before packing.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 7:29AM
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Like Shirley I always cut my beans a bit shorter than the headspace, then cover with liquid, and I cut all the beans the same length before packing into the jars.

Mine often float up, but they don't get wrinkled. That confuses me and I don't know why they would do that.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 9:59AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My cukes and beans also get wrinkled and its normal for them when pickled in a vinegar brine. I cut my beans up this time and tightly packed them, but they still shrink due to the vinegar. Floating is normal too, unless its packed so tight that you don't see any movement when you 'swirl' the jars.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 6:31PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I have had some wrinkle before, but I bought the beans. I suppose they must have not been freshly picked, although they seemed crisp at the time.
The good news is that they did plump back up, so perhaps yours will, too.
If you want lower salt, you can use Lite Salt. Not sure if they would taste good since Lite Salt tastes bitter or something to me.
From USDA:
Reduced-sodium salts, for example, "Lite Salt," may be used in quick pickle recipes. The pickles may, however, have a slightly different taste than expected.

We used this recipe in a class. It was weird, but after they were canned, everyone said how salty they tasted, but they had no salt !! I don't even know why they are called low salt.
Low Salt Pickled Dill Green Beans

for each pint:
1 pint jar green beans
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper

1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1/2 tsp. dill seed
garlic, 1 clove per jar

for the brine:
5 cups water
5 cups vinegar, 5% acidity
heat to boiling.

Pack beans into hot pint jars, add hot pepper, mustard seed, dill, and garlic to each jar. Fill within 1/2 inch of top of jar with hot brine. Seal, place in water bath canner with water over tops of jars by 1-2 inches, and process for 5 minutes after water returns to a full boil.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 6:54PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Lite salt is potassium chloride, for anyone who has a high potassium problem in their kidneys, it can lead to your heart stopping. Less is just that, a substitute like potassium chloride will make for a terrible taste. If you can tolerate MSG, that may be a better choice as its still sodium based. Usually adding a small amount of sugar to a vinegar brine can be much better flavored than with any other salts. Increase the amount of herbs and seasoning if you omit all the salt.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 2:06PM
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Ken, I've been told that you shouldn't pack the product so tightly into a jar, that it creates a dense environment where the vinegar may not be able to penetrate.

In fact, an example was even given where a person died of botulism from eating pickled asparagus. The recipe was apparently safe, but the asparagus packed so tightly that the brine couldn't circulate.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 4:00PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

You mentioned this before, and like I said the vegetables shrink enough that they are very loose inside once they are hit with the heat of the process. In fact, they start shrinking even before they go into the canner, which is caused by the boiling hot brine. My whole cukes were tightly packed, and now that they are done, there is almost 2 inches of brine at the bottom with all the cukes floating. I can flip the jars upside down and watch them all move around as if they were only half filled. The same with my string beans. My beans have been pickled with the same brines. The red noodle beans stayed red, and leeched out only some of their color. The purples lost all their color, and had turned a darker green. Its almost like I had pickled some beets in the jars along with the string beans, as the brine was reddish. I think that the shrinking can happen if the vinegar brine is very adic, which mine is. A 50:50 water vinegar may show less shrinking, but is it safe??

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 9:04AM
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Well, the USDA says 50/50 is a safe level, and they're very, very careful, so I suppose it must be. Good thing too, no way could I eat something in 100% vinegar.

My secretary brought in some homemade refrigerator dills today and gave me one. I told her I didn't care for dills, but she really, really wanted me to taste them. I took one bite and she could tell by the look on my face that I could not eat it, it was way too sour. She said "just throw it away" and went away with the container, happily munching away.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 12:06PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

You have to also realize that even if the vinegar is full strength with no added water, it still gets well diluted when it comes in contact with vegetables that contain large amounts of water, Simply put, if there is an 80% amount of cucumbers packed in a quart jar and the rest is a 5% vinegar, it will never equate out to a 5% vinegar after it cures. The cukes will release quite a lot of water as will string beans and other vegetables, and this action will dilute the vinegar quite a bit For me, and my very short processing times, I 'push the envelope' by making sure that there is sufficient acid so as not to encourage any bacteria than can flourish in an otherwise diluted brine. For people who detest vinegar, all I can say is process the heck out of it and you end up with mush, which may not be a texture some people enjoy.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 11:59AM
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And that, Ken, is precisely why I don't eat dill or sour pickles. I don't like them either way.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 3:02PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Now you know why I still insist on using a steam canner as its mainly for the quick heat processing needed to help keep cukes from getting cooked and turning mushy. I consider that mine are safe even if the full strength acid level were diluted with the water from the vegetables in the jars. A 50:50 mix of water and vinegar are never going to be the same acidicty once the vegetables release their water, so how sure are we that its still safe? I would expect that if it were very tightly packed, the diluted vinegar would be less than 50% once the vegetables released their water (hence the initial wrinkling), so addition of more acid would help to keep the acid level high enough to remain safe to consume. Not liking the taste of vinegar is fine, but when your dealing with home canning and pickling, vinegar is a very important ingredient to use, and can make things pickled in it much safer to consume, if you also take into consideration the amount of acid thats in the final product after its cured. I bet that some people could have over packed jars, mixed a 50:50 water vinegar ratio, and canned these things, without really knowing the end result of the amount of acid in the brine. Even a home canned pickle CAN have bacteria that can make someone sick, or worse, even die..

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 1:33PM
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last year I canned pickled green beans and they were firmly packed and were crisp. this year I picked them and pickled them and they looked flat and wrinkled. some of that went away but the biggest difference was one was a flatter bean last years was rounder. I don't think I processed it as long last year either. this year 10 minutes. last year 5. they are looking better after being in the jar a while but I think the rounder bean works better

    Bookmark   October 18, 2014 at 12:44PM
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