Saturday, June 10, 2017

Radish Wisdom for the Ages

I've never been able to get too excited about radishes. They're something I've always grown. I always plant them in the rows with the carrot seeds, because the radishes are ready way before the carrots, and pulling them out helps to space out the carrots. The efficiency of this appeals to me.

Also, I do like that radishes come up so fast. Radishes and arugula are always the first two things to eat out of my spring garden, which makes them somewhat exciting.

But only somewhat.

I could never really figure out a way to eat large quantities of radishes. I don't eat them straight, because I find them too peppery. They're fine in salad, but there really isn't a lot of lettuce yet when the radishes are ready. And anyway, that only uses up a few radishes.

But this year, I've cracked the radish code.

Pickle them.

Specifically, I pickle them using this recipe, but with about half a teaspoon of salt added. All I have to do is put all the ingredients in a wide-mouth pint jar, shake it up to dissolve the sugar and salt, then add in the sliced radishes. Sometimes I add in very thin carrot or cucumber sticks too. Whatever fills up the jar. Then they just sit for awhile.

The cucumbers and carrots are really good in the brine, but the radishes are excellent. The sugar tames the spiciness of the radishes and makes them taste just like slightly sweet pickles.

Plus, look how pretty. In pink, no less.

I can use the same brine for two batches before it gets too diluted and I need to make fresh brine.

The kids love them, and I really like having some kind of vegetable on hand that they can be counted on to eat every time. You know, for those times when we have a vegetable for dinner that they're really not okay with eating. Like radish greens.

Which brings me to the next discovery.

I was never able to deal satisfactorily with the secondary harvest of the radish tops. I would take off the greens and store them in the refrigerator. Then I would be uninspired to actually wash them and cook them, so they would invariably yellow and get thrown away in a few days.

What a waste.

This is my new plan for radish harvests. When I bring in the radishes, I dump them directly in the sink, all intact, and soak the dirt away. I usually have to drain and refill the sink a few times to get all the dirt off.

Swish, swish, drain, refill. Repeat as needed.

Then I twist off the roots, slice them up, and put them in the jar with the brine. Next, and this is key, I immediately cook the greens in a skillet with olive oil and salt. Sometimes garlic powder. If I don't have time to do this when I come in from harvesting, I'll just leave them in the water until I do have the time. 

It only takes a few minutes, and then I have cooked greens in the refrigerator rather than a bag of dirty leaves. Cooked greens never get a chance to go bad, both because they last longer, and also because they're so easy to throw into stuff--pasta sauce, stir-fry, bacon rice, or just plain with my eggs in the morning--that they get used up quickly.

And there you have it. Pickle the radishes, cook the greens immediately, and I will never again have a problem using up my radish abundance. Hooray.


tu mere said...

I'll have to get your dad to try the radish recipe. Like you, I find radishes too peppery to eat, even in salads. All cooked, seasoned greens, however, are always good.

Lisa said...

Have you tried bread and butter with super thinly sliced radishes? They're good and the bread and butter mellow them out

Kristin @ Going Country said...

Lisa: I have, and oddly, I can't taste the radishes at all when I do that. Maybe mine aren't big enough or something. In any case, that still only uses a couple of radishes at a time. Pickling helps me deal with a large harvest all at once.