Let’s Talk About Radishes for a Sec

I like radishes a lot.  I’ve like radishes for about as long as I can remember.  Honestly, I think it might be partially genetic, as I remember my grandfather really liking them too.  They’re crisp and often spicy and really just make for a great snacking vegetable. As such they are a common staple in my spring and winter gardens.

That being said, I think that radishes, at least in the United States, tend to be an under appreciated vegetable.  I say this for a number of reasons.  First off, most people, when they hear radish, tend to think of the simple round red grocery story variety even though there is quite a diversity of kinds, coming in a good number of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Secondly, and perhaps more unfortunately, radishes often tend to be regulated to use as just a fresh salad vegetable (which is a perfectly fine use in itself), neglecting all the other culinary potential. Finally, there is the whole spice thing.  Radishes are a Brassica and like many other vegetables in the family can, but don’t always, pack a nice punch (the spiciness of Brassicas like radishes, mustards, and horseradish is due to the chemical allyl isothiocyanate found in mustard oils), and some folks are really not into that.

All of this is too bad, because really radishes can be quite fun. They are quite an easy vegetable to grow.  There diversity of form can make for some colorful and interesting garden patches.  For eating, beyond fresh or in a salad, you can sauté them with a bit of butter to nice effect, or roast them with other root vegetables.  Also, they make an awesome addition to kraut or kimchi fermentation.  Depending on variety and age of the root, one can avoid the worst effects of their spiciness (older roots get spicier and spicier.  Daikons, the Asian large long white radishes, tend to be less pungent in general).  Oh yeah and you can eat the seed pods too, kind of like funky little spicy pea pods (see rattail radish).

So give the radish a chance.  I think you might find something you enjoy.

Large radish

A large elongated radish I picked from our winter garden this morning. At this size it was getting pretty spicy, but was still crisp and edible (much larger and the root would be beginning to get woody and tough)

~ by Nathaniel on December 5, 2013.

One Response to “Let’s Talk About Radishes for a Sec”

  1. I saw two radish recipe recently I want to try – one was for pickled radishes, the other for oven roasted radish chips. They aren’t my favourite veg but yes, I should try them in something other than salads!

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