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Rabid for radishes. June 1, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. It’s radish season, at least here in Zone 6, as I was reminded when Entangled of Tangled Branches: Cultivated (http://tangledbranches.com/) linked to our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, the other day. Our friend Ben and I live in scenic Pennsylvania, and Entangled lives in Virginia, but we share Zone 6 and her radishes are also coming in fast and furious. When that happens, it’s all about the timing—trying to wait until the radishes are big enough but not wait until they get woody or split. Ack!

Anyway, Entangled wrote a post called “Reddish Radish Relish” sharing an original recipe that looks delicious. I’d never thought of making a radish relish, but hers is in my recipe file now, along with her recipe for “Indianish Radish Relish,” which looks simply fabulous. Yum! Speaking of which, Entangled linked in her post to a number of other delicious ways to use radishes. I especially loved GiniAnn of Salt and Pepper’s recipe for Radish Pachadi, which strikes me as an especially elaborate and flavorful raita. Sounds like a great excuse to make an Indian feast this week!

Basically, GiniAnn sautees onion, chilies, ginger, radishes, and shredded radish leaves in oil with black mustardseeds and salt, tops it off with fresh cilantro leaves, lets the mixture cool, and stirs it into plain yogurt. (I’ll let you explore her wonderful blog to find exact proportions, if you need them, for yourselves; remember, the link is in the “Reddish Radish Relish” post.)

Entangled linked to my post “Revolutionary Radishes” because it has a recipe for an easy, delicious radish spread. It also reveals Thomas Jefferson’s favorite radishes (you can still buy seeds of his all-time favorite, ‘China Rose’, today) and rants a bit about the joys of radish sprouts. You can search the title in our search bar at upper right to find the recipe and read the post, or simply click on Entangled’s link.

But let’s get back to the point: Many of us are  facing a glut of radishes right now. Fortunately, they do store well in the crisper drawer of the fridge if you cut the tops off. So you slice them in salads. You top a slice of buttered baguette with them, salt them, and enjoy them as a treat. You mince them and mix them into cream cheese or yogurt cheese with chopped scallions (green onions) or chives or diced sweet onion, then spread it on bagels or baguettes or use it as a dip for crudites or chips. Maybe you get adventurous and try Entangled’s radish relishes or GiniAnn’s Radish Pachadi. Or you just salt whole radishes and pop them in your mouth.

But still, there are radishes… and radishes. And more radishes. Now what?

Well, what about a spicy-sweet radish refrigerator pickle? It works for cukes, why not radishes? To make sweet-hot refrigerator pickles with cukes, I heat 1 cup each cider vinegar and sugar, add 2 T salt, 1 T each black mustardseed, turmeric, and whole cloves, and a dash of hot sauce. Once the solution boils and the sugar dissolves, I allow it to cool to lukewarm, then pour it over alternating layers of sliced cukes and diced sweet onion in a square or rectangular plastic container. Finally, I seal the lid on the container and refrigerate it for 3 to 5 days before beginning to eat the pickles so they take up plenty of flavor. The pickles will keep for weeks, with the flavor intensifying the longer you can resist eating them.

I don’t know why it wouldn’t work for radishes, too. So I decided to Google “radish pickle” and see what I found. Many links that came up were for Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese daikon radish pickles, but sure enough, there was one for a spicy-sweet radish refrigerator pickle by Regan Buma on Chow (www.chow.com). Here it is:

            Bread-and-Butter Radishes

1 bunch (about 13) red radishes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon yellow or brown mustardseed

1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed

1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 dried bay leaf

1. Rinse radishes and trim off their leafy tops. Holding the stem end, thinly slice radishes with a mandoline or sharp knife. When you get close to the stem, stop slicing and discard the end. Place radishes in a heatproof, nonreactive bowl, and set in the refrigerator while making the brine. 

2. Combine red wine vinegar, sugar, water, salt, mustardseed, coriander seed, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.

3. Remove from heat and let pickling brine cool for about 5 minutes. Remove radishes from the refrigerator and pour brine over them. Let cool for 20 minutes; cover and refrigerate. Use to top burgers, sandwiches, or anything else that needs tarting up.

The recipe makes 1 3/4 cups. Chow used these pickled radishes to top tea sandwiches made with butter, watercress, black pepper, and the radishes; you’ll find that recipe on their site as well. According to the site, the radish pickle will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, but I suspect it would probably keep longer. I should note that commentors on the recipe said it tasted delicious but smelled awful, so be forewarned! 

Once you’ve let your radish pickle age long enough to take up all the flavors, what else could you do with it? Well, you could use it as a relish on a hoagie. You could mix some into egg, chicken, or tuna salad or devilled eggs. Or make a roast beef rollup with radish relish and sour cream or cream cheese. You could use it in a club sandwich, a turkey or chicken sandwich, or any kind of cheese sandwich, or, again, top cream cheese with it on a bagel or slice of baguette. Or be daring and tuck it into a barbecue sandwich along with or instead of coleslaw.

Naturally, you don’t have to make radish pickles to enjoy your extra radishes. You can matchstick radishes and add them to coleslaw, shredded carrot salad, or pickled beets. You can stir-fry them with onion, green onion (scallions), egg, fresh green peas, and soy sauce or Tamari and serve the stir-fry over rice. Or add them to a spring roll. Or tuck them in a grilled cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato or a BLT. Or add them to hash browns. Or use them to add texture to a shrimp cocktail or heat to tartar sauce. The options are limited only by your imagination and your taste.

See what you come up with! And, please, enjoy “Reddish Radish Relish,” “Revolutionary Radishes,” and “Radish Pachadi.” There’s a wide world of radish recipes out there!

           ‘Til next time,




1. nancybond - June 1, 2010

Wow! Both the relish and your Bread-And-Butter radishes sound delicious! Of course, there hasn’t been a pickle made that I don’t love. 😉 When I think of radishes, I always remember my Dad eating them on crackers or bread…with mustard!

Thanks, Nancy! Hmmm, mustard, eh? I keep thinking horseradish…

2. entangled - June 2, 2010

The radish pickle recipe looks delicious! I’m going to wish I had MORE radishes…seriously. I have some China Rose and Beauty Heart seeds that I’ve been meaning to plant for a fall crop for the last few years, but I never seem to get around to planting many fall crops.

Thanks for the link!

Oh, good for you, Entangled! We also have ‘China Rose’, and will make a point of looking for ‘Beauty Heart’. We’re really bad about fall crops here, too, but have sworn to do better this year.

3. craftynelly - June 2, 2010

Have you ever tried letting some radishes go to seed? You can eat the seed pods. Very tasty.

Good point, Nelly! We actually grew the famous if unfortunately named ‘Rat’s Tail’ radish here one year, renowned for its edible seed pods, and enjoyed them in stir-fries. But it never occurred to me to try ordinary radish seed pods. Thanks for the tip!

4. Jen - June 5, 2010

I love the seed pods too! Maybe more than the radishes- and you get a few per plant instead of just one. I think one secret to harvesting those is to get ’em when they’re still shiny. When they loose their shine the texture gets too woody.

I don’t know what I did wrong with the radishes this year, Silence. The ones I planted in my earthbox came out great, but the ones in my bed that I sowed in march are still really tiny. And the few that I’ve pulled have been nibbled on. I may just let them go to pods. This recipe might be good for my okra, though. I’m growing the red variety and it’s so pretty – would hate to have to cook it and have it turn a different color.

Hey you have to stop by and see my chickens – I got them a week ago. They’re still babies and little confused. But very cute!

Yes! Yes! Chickens, Jen!!! What breeds are they? OFB and I would love to stop by and see them, maybe en route to see our friend Sarah’s place in Upstate New York. Radish pods are great, and, of course, so are okra pods! Don’t let those gorgeous okra pods get woody. Enjoy them while they’re still bright and tender!

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