Happy Hour at Home: We Can Pickle That

Be our guest for Happy Hour at Home, a small series about the joys of lesbian socializing from home, because let’s be honest with ourselves — we’re going to be here for a while.

I can’t give you my primary recipe for pickles, because it is not mine to give.

In March of last year, someone who had slid into my DMs the month before forwarded me an email that had been sent to her two years before. In it, her best friend detailed how to make simple but delicious pickles in just a couple of days. She confessed to me that she sometimes still grew impatient for the pickles and opened them a little too soon. She loves pickles. We have approximately four jars of them currently in the fridge in our shared home.

Her friend said he knew she was really into me when she told him she sent me the pickle recipe. Intimacy as pickling! Flirting with pickles!

If I had to predict the next quarantine kitchen trend, it’s probably going to be pickles. And I’ll tell you right now: They’re remarkably easier to make than fucking sourdough. (For the record, I do not begrudge anyone making sourdough right now—I am simply jealous, because I have proven [bread pun!] to be very bad at it.)

Pickling and canning are ideal at-home activities in that they are exactly that—an activity!—but then you also have a briny, tasty treat at the end of it and one that lasts a long time! Instead of giving you a plain ol’ traditional cucumber pickle recipe, I’m going to give you some tips for other kinds of pickles—many of which can be “quick pickled” and added to a plain pantry meal for a little more texture and depth.

Hot Dilly Beans

I have an uncle who moved to Vermont and swiftly became Very Vermont (think: making cheese, canning jam, watercoloring, etc), and one of my favorite things he makes and gives out are dilly beans a.k.a. pickled green beans. My favorite thing to do with them is to add them as a Bloody Mary garnish, but they’re also just good as a quick snack or on a cheese plate.

Just pack a bunch of fresh green beans (trim the ends if they aren’t trimmed already) into a glass jar along with a whole clove of garlic (or more!), two teaspoons of dill seeds or two sprigs of fresh dill, and a generous shake of red pepper flakes (for spicier, add a chopped serrano instead). In a pot, add equal parts vinegar and water (there should be enough liquid to cover the beans—for one small jar of beans that probably looks like about half a cup of water and half a cup of vinegar) and about one tablespoon of Kosher or pure sea salt per cup of liquid and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid over the green beans. Chill the jar in the fridge for at least two days before opening, but the sweet spot is right around five days.

Quick-Pickled Onions

Pickled red onions make everything better, but if you’re making tacos at home these days, this is absolutely something I recommend adding into the mix of toppings. It’s SO EASY AND FAST and doesn’t even require a heating element. It’s also something you can do if you have like half a red onion left over from something else. Thinly slice a red onion. In a bowl, whisk together enough apple cider vinegar to cover the onion slices, about a tablespoon of sugar per cup of vinegar, and one teaspoon of salt per cup of vinegar until everything dissolves. Put the onion in a sealable container and pour the liquid over it. Let sit on the counter for just 30 minutes and they’re ready to use. Let them sit a little longer if you want a more bitey flavor. And if you wanna save them for later, they keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Just drain excess liquid before use.

A Quick-Pickle Plate

Got some excess veggies you need to use up before they turn? A pickle plate is like the snappy, briny cousin of a cheese plate. Daikon, pickles, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, bell peppers, and mushrooms can all be quick-pickled for a colorful pickle plate. I love this recipe. Pro tip: Before serving, sprinkle it all with some feta or blue cheese crumbles or goat cheese.

And by all means, pls use your pickles to flirt.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 814 articles for us.


  1. Pickling is pretty forgiving. I turned what was a serving-size quick pickle in a recipe into a whole jar. Add more of whatever vinegar and spices you have around, maybe a little sugar, toss it in the fridge. A month-ish later and they’re even better than they were a week in. My next grocery trip is going to include some sort of pepper and carrots to be pickled in addition to english or persian cucumbers.

    I mean, this was something I was entertaining even before the pandemic. Like, I’d started wondering… can you pickle bananas? Strawberries? I’m sure you can and I’m eventually going to find out how they are.

  2. I’ve decided that this post was made for me.

    I’ve been a pickler of eggs for the last three years (stick a fork in a jar, get a protein. What’s not to like?), and this seems like the perfect time to widen my repertoire. I particularly can’t wait to try the dilly beans recipe.

    Meanwhile, have a couple of unsolicited pickled egg recipes:

    Boil and peel the eggs (roughly 10 for a litre/2 pint jar)
    Add 1 tbsp sugar, pinch of salt, maybe ground black pepper or chilli flakes if you like a little bit of a kick.
    Add one cup basalmic vinegar. This should fill most of the jar, top up the rest with water.
    Refrigerate for two days before you start eating them.
    Will keep for at least 2 weeks. Probably longer, but I’ve generally eaten them all by then.

    Boil 10 eggs, then peel and put in your 1 ltr/2 pint jar
    Pour 1 cup vinegar into a pan, along with:
    1/4 cup water
    1 heaped tbsp sugar
    1 heaped tbsp curry powder of your choice
    1 tsp mustard seeds
    hell, whatever other spices you fancy, I don’t know, I’ve never made it the same way twice.

    Simmer and stir for maybe five minutes, then let it cool a bit. Pour over the eggs, seal the jar, refrigerate for 2 days before getting started on them.

  3. Oooh, I can’t wait to make those dilly beans. I have just finished canning a huge basket of beautiful quinces my ex girlfriend gifted me, half of them I pickled. They end up looking like soft pink gems and they are quite addictive!

  4. If you want to take the resourcefulness to the next level, don’t throw out a flavorful brine when you finish a jar of homemade pickles. I freeze it in an ice cube tray, use it whenever I’m cooking something that needs a bit of acid.

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