Helena Ricketts loves cooking from scratch and sharing her recipes with anyone who wants to try something new in the world of food.
A Little About Radishes
Let's be honest. Radishes usually get a bad rap. When you buy them at the grocery store, they are small white balls of bitter plant root encased in a bright red woody and chewy covering. Those are not very pleasing to the pallet, and a lot of people will tell you that they don't care for radishes.
Thing is, there's another side to radishes. Once you take a step into the radish world, you will see that there are many different varieties, textures, and flavors that can be experienced with a radish. They can be crunchy without being tough and bitter and can be prepared in many different ways than just sliced and tossed on a salad for color. Radishes are food, and food is good.
The Red Globe variety of radish that you see on your grocery store shelf is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the varieties available. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties of this crazy little vegetable. I would love to sample them all, but unfortunately, I only have so much room in my garden every spring and fall.
Some varieties that I grow on a regular basis every year are:
- French Breakfast
- Early Scarlet Globe
- Pink Beauty
Radishes can be grown from sowing to harvest in as little as 20 days. This amazingly fast turnaround is what makes them popular in early spring gardens. They are also very easy to grow, so for a beginning gardener, they are a fantastic plant to help you learn how to grow your own food.
Nutrition-wise, they aren't bad. Radishes contain vitamin C, natural salt, calcium, and iron. Combined with other types of foods, the radish is a flavorful, colorful root vegetable that honestly deserves a better reputation.
When you grow your own radishes, what do you do with them? I've always taken my radish harvest and made pickled radishes. It will keep in the refrigerator for quite a long time, and when used as a complement to other foods, it is absolutely to die for. I eat mine on scrambled eggs, on toast, as a topping for salads and straight out of the jar with a fork. I know, I'm obsessed, but once you taste this, you too will join the dark side: the world of the radish-obsessed.
Making Pickled Radishes
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 quart or 2 pints or 4 half-pints
- 1 pound fresh radishes, cleaned and sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 jalepeno, optional
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
- The first thing you will want to do is wash any dirt off of the radishes. Cut the bottom part of the root off and cut the greens off the top. Radish greens are edible, but we feed ours to the chickens because they LOVE them.
- Slice the radishes. There is no right or wrong thickness to the slices. I try to keep mine thin, but thick will actually work in this recipe too.
- Peel the garlic and chop it up. Peel the onion and chop it up. Prepare the jalapeno by halving it and removing the seeds. Slice the jalapeno lengthwise into thin strips. Set the veggies aside.
- If you haven't done so yet, wash your jars and fill them with hot water. This will keep the jars ready without the risk of breaking them when you pour your pickling liquid in over the radishes.
- Combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a saucepan and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the garlic, onion, pepper, and jalapeno to the pot along with the red pepper flakes if you have chosen to use them. Allow this to simmer for a few minutes.
- Dump the hot water out of the jars. Start layering your radishes with the onion and garlic from the hot pan. Be sure to add in strips of the jalapeno if you are using it. I usually do between 2 and 3 layers in my jars.
- Pour the hot liquid over the radishes. You may or may not have liquid left over. That's normal.
- Remove any air bubbles by using a spatula or plastic knife to go around the edges of the jar.
- Wipe the rim and cap the jar with a lid and ring, screwing on until fingertight. This isn't for sealing purposes since we aren't waterbathing or pressure canning these. It is to keep the rims of the jars clean.
- Allow the jar to sit until it is back to room temperature. After it has cooled off to room temperature, put it into the refrigerator so the flavor can develop. A couple of days is OK, but a week is even better. You may notice that the liquid has turned pink! That's normal and caused by the radish skins.
- Open your radishes after you have waited as long as you possibly can and enjoy them.
A Few Final Thoughts on Pickled Radishes
Making these is not an exact science and you can mix and match ingredients so be brave and experiment! Everything is changeable except for the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Here are a few things to remember with a few tips that may result in a more pleasant experience when making pickled radishes.
- Don't touch your face after touching the jalapeno. Depending on how hot the jalapeno is that you have, this could result in some serious discomfort. I have rubbed my nose before and seriously wished I hadn't. If you forget to wash your hands and happen to rub your eye, it's REALLY painful. Take a shot glass, fill it with whole milk and tip it back on your eye and that will kill the sting instantly.
- What to do if a jar is 1/2 full. Not a problem! Just make a mix of equal parts vinegar and water, heat it up and top the jar off.
- Never use metal inside your jars. When getting rid of the air bubbles, be sure to use either wood or plastic, never use metal. The metal can chip the jar and the tapping on the bottom of the jar can weaken the glass. If you use metal to release air bubbles on your jars, they will break faster because they become chipped and weakened.
- You can use store-bought radishes for this recipe. Pickling store-purchased radishes will work and it will take the bitter/woody taste out of them, but the homegrown radishes do taste a lot better.
© 2014 Helena Ricketts