Radishes. Not just for salads anymore!

I was never a huge fan of radishes. They add a bit of a punch and crunch to a salad. They are pretty good thinly sliced with cucumbers and tossed an asian flavored vinegarette as a garnish. But for a normal meal, that’s what, 2, maybe 4 radishes. The bunches at the store were always waaaay more than that, and some would inevidibly end up going in the compost. As a whole, radishes just weren’t crave-worthy in my life.

When I started growing a food garden, perusing through all the seed catelogs, I found a whole page of radishes. Who knew? There were so many varieties and colors! AND they have one of the shortest seed-to-harvest durations (21 day average) so I just had to give them a whirl.

I ordered a multi-colored heirloom variety, loosly scattered them in rows, and waited. Lo and behold, within days, the little heart-shaped seedlings emerged!

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radish seedlings

True to form, 3 weeks went by, and I could see the round tops of the radishes popping out of the ground. I knew it was time to harvest, but as I got a little overzealous with the planting, I hada couple dozen radishes and with no pot luck or garden party in need of a giant salad in sight, what on earth could I do with all those radishes?

Well…

What to do with all those radishes

Fermenting

I had already gotten into fermenting, and I do especially like roots since they hold on to a lot of their crunch. The directions below are pretty universal for any root:

  • add 2 TBSP salt to every 2 cups water and bring to a boil
  • allow your brine to cool completely
  • meanwhile, cut off radish ends and leaves
  • quarter, slice, cube, or leave radishes whole, your choice (the bigger the chunk, the longer the ferment)
  • fill a jar or non-reactive container of your choice 3/4 full with radishes/radish pieces
  • once the brine is completely cool, pour it over the radishes, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace
  • add your weight and lid of choice (see this post for more on weights and lids)
  • set the jar/container on a dish in a shaded corner of your kitchen (pantry is fine, just don’t forget it’s in there!)

You should start to see bubbles (carbon dioxide released from the good bacteria in your ferment) forming and rising within a couple days. After about a week, you can begin tasting. Once the radishes are to your liking, remove the weight, add a proper lid, and refridgerate (cold radically slows the fermentation process, so no explosions in your fridge). Enjoy!

Pickling

Fridge pickles are super quick and easy to make, and don’t have to be confined to just cucumbers. If you have some leftover pickle juice, or even a half empty jar, you can drop the radishes in there, cut or whole, and within a week or two they will soak up that pickling flavor. To make your own simple pickling solution:

  • add 1 part water to 1 part vinegar, adding 2 TBSP salt per cup of fluid
  • optional: add sugar, fresh or dried herbs, garlic cloves, aromatic seeds, peppercorns…experiment to find the flavor combos you like best with your pickles!
  • bring the pickling solution to a boil, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes before removing it from the heat
  • allow the solution to cool completely
  • meanwhile, cut off radish ends and leaves
  • quarter, slice, cube, or leave radishs whole, your choice (the bigger the chunk, the longer it will take for the pickling solution to get all the way in there)
  • fill a jar with radishes/radish chunks
  • once the pickling solution is completely cool, pour it over the radishes, leaving some headspace
  • tighly lid the jar, using a non-metallic lid (vinegar erodes metal and will get rust all in your pickles). Alternatively, you can place a piece of parchment paper between the lid and the brine.
  • leave the jar in the fridge for a week or two to pickle, then Enjoy!
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Fridge-pickled radishes

Cooking radishes

Yes! Radishes can be cooked! And they are simply delightful! 

My daughter does not like anything with any pepper, spice, or kick to it, and therefore will not eat raw radishes. Cooking the radishes not only removes the peppery-ness, but also adds a mild sweetness.

Sauté them!

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Isn’t that pretty?

Yes, you can eat the greens too! (Don’t waste a bit!) Here, I cubed the radishes and chopped the radish tops and sautéed them together in a pan with bacon and onion as a side. The edges of the radishes brown and become a little caramelized and the greens wilt down like any other leafy green vegetable.

I’ve also added some rice and eggs for a hearty breakfast scramble of sorts.

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Roast them!

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Easy roasted roots and chicken

This is one of my daughter’s favorite ways I make chicken, and it’s so easy, it’s one of my favorites as well! Simply chop up whatever vegetables you have around (roots are our favorites) and toss them in the bottom of an oven pan or dish. Add a whole chicken on top, or chicken pieces as shown here. Season with salt and pepper, and whatever other seasonings you like (I usually sprinkle garlic and onion powder over). Add some herbs, either fresh or dried.

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Toss it all in a dish, throw it in the oven, and relax til it’s done!

Lid or cover with foil, and bake in a 350 – 375 degree oven until the chicken is done. (The time will of course depend on the size of your chicken.) As you can see from the first picture, the skin doesn’t really brown while the dish is lidded. My daughter likes it this way, and calls this dish “Slippy Skin Chicken” when she’s requesting. If you like brown, crispy skin, simply remove the cover about 15 minutes before it’s done to allow everything to brown.

Again, the roasted radishes get a little caramelized and soften and sweeten while roasting, but still retain a little bite like most roasted roots.

 

So go plant yourself some radish seeds, and in three weeks, do some experimenting with your crop (and a crop you will have!). Come back and let me know what wonderful things you do with the radishes. I’d love to know!

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