My first memories of three bean salad were at a park called Lake Dixon, where my family rented little boats and picnicked on the shore. There were always potucks and parties there too, and one dish I specifically remember eating a a potluck there was three bean salad. It’s probably strange I remember my first taste of this classic salad, but maybe it’s because I really wanted to like it, but didn’t. The beans were drenched in an unbalanced vinegar dressing, with an overly sharp bite. I liked the idea of the different textures of beans together, but the dressing ruined it for me. Recently, I saw someone post a picture of their home canned three bean salad, so I drilled the poster regarding taste. Their recipe came from the Amish Canning Cookbook, a dish I had been eyeing every time I thumbed through that book. This person assured me this side dish was not overpowering with vinegar. Inspecting the ingredient list, I could see this version had promise, and because the ingredients were inexpensive, I thought, “why not?”
Because I buy my dry beans in bulk, I cooked my own kidney beans and chickpeas. I just cooked an entire pound of each, and used the extras for other recipes. I amended the recipe a bit from the Amish Canning Cookbook, and used apple cider vinegar. As long as the vinegar is 5 percent acidity for safe canning, you can use another type of vinegar. I love celery in this recipe, which I haven’t seen in traditional versions.
After I made this recipe, I gave my husband a bite. He widened his eyes, and said, ‘This tastes like the 1970’s.” He’s right, but it’s much better. I adore this three bean salad so much, I will pop open a jar for a snack. This has the perfect tang, amount of oil and sugar, and more vegetables than ever with my amendments. I reclaimed a retro recipe from our childhoods, and brought it back to our table, and to our picnic blankets.
Home Canned Three Bean Salad
Amended from The Amish Canning Cookbook
Yield 7 pints
4 1/2 cups of fresh green beans, snapped in half
4 1/2 cups cooked red kidney beans (if using canned, rinse thoroughly first)
3 cups cooked chickpeas (if using canned, rinse thoroughly first)
2 cups of sliced onion
2 cups of sliced green bell peppers
1 1/2 cup sliced celery
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup bottled lemon juice
2 1/4 cups of sugar
3/4 cups of oil
3 3/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp canning salt
Snap beans in half, and boil for 30 seconds, and plunge in cold water. Boil vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and water, then remove from heat. Add salt. oil, green beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, onions, celery, and green pepper. Bring to a simmer, and turn off immediately.
Put bean mixture and liquid in pint jars, filling to 1 inch headspace. Water bath pints for 20 minutes for altitudes up to 1,000 feet, 20 minutes for altitudes from 1,001-6,000 feet, and 25 minutes for 6,000 feet and above.