I’ve always been on the fence about radishes. When I starting bringing them home from the farm share by the armload, I admit to becoming a little nervous. I could see eating a one or two diced radishes on top of my salad, but that was not going to get us through the bunches quickly accumulating in the crisper drawer of our fridge. So they sat there taunting me, winning the vegetable beauty contest for their bright pink skin, white flesh and lush leaves, but neglected on our table. It didn’t help that Josh took my skepticism a step further to downright dislike: too earthy, too spicy, not for him.
The other day, I decided to take control of our radish situation, trying my hand at a batch of refrigerator pickles and used up those radishes. And they came out beautifully. Now, instead of that fiercely spicy bite that had me nibbling hesitantly, I had a juicy-crisp tangy-salted wonder. Pickling mellows this vegetable perfectly. And these pickled radishes will still win your vegetable beauty contests; their white flesh turns a lovely pink as they marinate. The pickles will last in the fridge for several weeks, so go ahead and make up a batch, and consume them at your own pace. But I’ll bet they’ll be gone long before you are wondering about their shelf life.
And Josh, my resident radish-hater and pickle-hater? He loved them. He tasted the first bite very skeptically, chewing slowly, brows furrowed. And then he added a whole handful to his salad. And he ate it with gusto.
Pickled Red Radishes
3/4 cup water
6 tbsps unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsps umeboshi plum vinegar (optional; or use additional rice vinegar)
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 large bunch radishes (about 15), rinsed and drained
1. Add the water to a microwavable container and warm in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until hot.
2. Add vinegars, sugar, and salt to the water.
3. Cut the greens from the radishes. Slice each radish into quarters, making small even shapes. Smaller radishes may be halved, larger radishes cut into sixths.
4. Place sliced radishes into a nonreactive glass, plastic, or ceramic container. Pour pickling brind over them.
5. Cover container tightly and place it in the refrigerator for storage.
6. Allow radishes to soak in the fridge for several hours before consuming. They will last up to 4 weeks in the fridge.
7. Enjoy as a condiment or hors d’oeuvre, on a salad, or with any Japanese-inspired meal.
NOTE: The only catch with this recipe is that the radishes take on a pungent smell after a couple days. Don’t worry; this is normal and most people learn to love them anyway. Just remove a small quantity, recap that pickle jar, dice them up and taste them. Their charms will unfold on your palate, and if you are anything like Josh and me, you will be hooked.
Umeboshi plum vinegar is a delicious Japanese vinegar derived from pickling ume plums. It has a beautiful ruby red color, and great tangy-salty flavor. It is a fabulous addition to salad dressing or sprinkled directly over sauteed cabbage or kale. Look for it near the sushi fixings and Japanese specialties at a well-stocked grocery store, or in an Asian market; you can also order online here.