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Trim the stems from the green beans. In a large bowl, mix the coarse crystal sea salt with 300ml boiling water and let it dissolve to make a brining solution. Add 1.2 litres cold water, then the beans. Cover and leave to soak overnight, then rinse and drain.
To make the pickling vinegar, put the whole spices in a medium saucepan. Toast over a low heat until they begin to smell aromatic. Add the dried chilli flakes last, as these can easily catch. Add the bay, pour in all of the vinegar, the sugar and the red onion, let the sugar dissolve, and bring to a simmer.
Pack the beans into sterilised jars (see tip below), then pour over the hot vinegar and seal. Ready to eat in 2 weeks, or longer, if you like.