Regards to the Radish
Radishes were first cultivated thousands of years ago in China, then in Egypt and Greece. Radishes were so highly regarded in Greece that gold replicas were made. The radish did not make its way to England until approximately 1548. By 1629 they were being cultivated in Massachusetts.
Radish is a cool-season, fast-maturing, easy-to-grow vegetable. Garden radishes can be grown where ever there is sun and moist, fertile soil, even on the smallest city lot. Early varieties usually grow best in the cool days of early spring, but some later-maturing varieties can be planted for summer use.
Radishes are available year round. Choose medium-size that are firm, rounded and should be of good color. Larger radishes tend to be pithy. Check for spongy feeling. Do not buy radishes with yellow or decayed tops.
Varieties include black, California mammoth whites, daikons, red globe and white icicles.
Radish leaves can be added to salads of stir fried vegetables to add a little zest to the flavor. They are not as spicy as radishes.
The most common uses for radishes are as a garnish or as an ingredient in a green salad.
Selections and Storage
Red Globe Radishes
This radish variety is the most popular in the United States and is the familiar looking red and white radish. It is small, round or oval shaped, sometimes referred to as "button" red radishes. They range in diameter from one to four inches (most commonly closer to one inch) and have a solid, crisp, flesh. Available year-round.
Radishes have often been dismissed as decoration and garnish. They are actually members of the cruciferous vegetable family so eat the greens. Because they vary in keeping quality, radishes are classified as winter or summer. Summer radishes are the small ones of bold red, pink, purple, white or red and white. They may be globe-shaped or elongated, fiery hot or mild.
Harvest summer radishes when they are small and tender for optimal flavor. Oversize summer radishes can become tough, woody, hallow and strong in flavor. To check a large radish squeeze gently, if it yields to pressure it is likely to be fibrous. These will do well in the compost heap.
Harvest winter radishes when they are large and mature. Winter radishes may be white, black or green. Black radishes have a pungent flavor and should be used sparingly. Remove greens and roots before storing black radishes. Chinese radishes, round and fat, are milder in flavor. Remove greens before storing; remove roots just before preparing.
The word daikon means "great root" in Japanese. In cool weather, daikon growth is quick and steady. The fully mature daikon can grow up to about 18 inches long and weighs 5 or 6 pounds. There are several varieties. Some are thin and long, while others are short and round. All radish greens are edible.
Save the young thinnings of both summer and winter radishes. They are delicious with tops and bottoms intact. Both summer and winter radishes store well in the refrigerator once the tops have been removed. The radish leaves cause moisture and nutrient loss during storage. Store greens separately for 2 to 3 days. Refrigerate radishes wrapped in plastic bags for 5 to 7 days. Winter radish varieties can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Other Ways to Eat Radishes
- Grate red radishes into pasta or bean salads for a slightly different taste and texture.
- Add red radishes to a vegetable tray for an added bright burst of color.
- Try a white radish variety. Add half a cup into vegetable soup.
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