Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pickled Radishes

Pickled watermelon radish.
Last year, the nice folks over at Beardsley gave me a couple giant black radishes because they thought I'd like to experiment with them (and probably because they had no idea what to do with it themselves). They were beautiful and unusual, and after a little poking around, I found out that it was a Black Spanish Radish. To be honest, I didn't really know what to do with it, either--and the radishes were big, bigger than even a good-sized turnip; so I pickled them, just as an experiment. When we opened a jar of the pickled radishes a few months later, we could hardly tear ourselves away from it: the radishes were softer, but still crunchy; briny and spicy; savory in a way that is hard to describe, too. This past weekend, we had some friends over to the house, and we finished off a 24 ounce jar of those same radishes--all in one evening.

After eating that first jar of pickled radishes, I decided that I would not only try to grow the Black Spanish Radish (I'll be trying my hand at this in the fall--ordering seeds from the Sand Hill Preservation Center), but that I would also try pickling other radishes.

When I saw the watermelon radishes at market a few weeks ago, I knew that they would make a beautiful pickle. I got a couple bunches, one of which included a radish that was the size of both of my fists put together (and trust me, I do not have small hands). I tasted them as I was preparing to can, and they were quite spicy and crunchy--perfect for pickling. Once I peeled and cut up the radishes, I stuffed them into three pint jars with garlic, ginger, whole coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds, and black peppercorns. I used a brine solution that had slightly more vinegar than water (as radishes are in no way acidic), and about a teaspoon and a half of salt per pint. Once I processed the jars in a boiling water bath, the radishes gave off some of their brilliant pink color and tinted the brine--although not so much that I can't discern a little of the white and green on the outside of the slices. They're easily some of the most beautiful pickles I've ever made, and I think they'll be every bit as good as the Black Spanish Radish pickles I made last fall.

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