Radishes aren’t really a vegetable that screams out for preservation. They’re usually eaten raw, after all. The problem is that I compulsively preserve all of the produce we grow, and in the springtime this invariably means that there will be the odd bunch of radishes that goes unsold at the farmers market. The unsold produce usually makes its way into our meals for the week, and yes, baby greens with thinly sliced radishes and mustard vinaigrette tastes wonderful after all of the kale we’ve been eating all winter, but we can only eat so much salad before that gets old. True, you can also roast them in the oven and toss them with brown butter for something more unexpected. When the temperature starts to spike up into the 80s during the day, however, roasting things for dinner just doesn’t seem very appropriate.
Over the years, I’ve managed to find a few ways to preserve the bounty of spring radishes. Radishes are so delicate that one heat wave can ruin them — leave them in the garden a few days too long and they turn tough and unpleasantly spicy. It’s much better to pick them at their peak, right away, and turn them into something tasty while they’re still fresh and perfect. These preservation methods will help extend the season a little bit, so that you don’t have to figure out how to do crazy things like eat a whole bed of radishes in four days.
Refrigerator PicklesRadishes make perfect pickles. They’re so crunchy already, and when you put them in a brine in the fridge they’ll stay crisp for weeks. Spiced with white wine, green garlic and fresh herbs from the spring garden, these pickles are majorly addictive.Pickled Radishes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 quart
- about 2 bunches of radishes
- 1 c. pinot grigio
- 1 c. white vinegar
- 1 c. water
- 3″ section of stem from green garlic (or fresh garlic tops, or scapes would work too)
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 small sprig of fennel
- 1 sprig marjoram
- 1 sprig oregano
- 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tbs. sugar
In a nonreactive pot, combine all of the ingredients except the radishes. Bring everything to a boil and then let it simmer for a five minutes to infuse the brine with the fresh herbs. Turn off the heat and let it cool down a bit after this- warm is fine, but boiling hot could cook that radishes a little bit, and we don’t want that. Meanwhile, cut the radishes into smaller pieces. Depending on the size and shape, you can cut them into halves, quarters, wedges or rounds (whatever makes you happy). Pack the radishes into a clean quart jar.* Remove the cooked herbs from the brine and discard. (If you want, you can throw a sprig of something in the jar, but I like to grab a fresh sprig). Pour the brine over them. Screw on the lid and store in the fridge for up to 1 month. (The radishes take about three days to taste properly pickled.)As the radishes sit in the vinegar, the red from the outside of the roots will dye the whole thing a vibrant shade of hot pink.
*Sterilize the jar to make the pickles last longer in the fridge.
Radish ButterThis is my most favorite radish recipe ever. This year, I used it for our ugly radishes that didn’t make it to the market. Any that are split, cracked or sat in the garden a few days too long can just be thrown right in with everything else to make this delicious spread without compromising the quality of the final product. It’s simple, too. Just puree the radishes with your favorite kitchen appliance for pureeing things and then mix them together with softened butter and fresh herbs. Basically, the plan is to cram the whole early spring garden into one compound butter and then eat it on toasted sourdough bread.
This lasts for a week in the fridge, and we’ve had success freezing it but I’m not sure how long it really lasts yet. (I’ll come back and update, I promise!) So far, those jars only sit in the freezer for a week or two before we’ve polished them off.
Radish Compound Butter
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 3 half pint jars
- about 16 radishes
- 1 1/2 c. salted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbs. chopped fresh marjoram
- 1 tbs. thinly sliced garlic greens (from the growing tops of the garlic in the garden)
- 2 tbs. chopped fennel fronds
- fresh cracked black pepper
Puree the radishes in a food processor (or whatever you use.) Add in the butter and the fresh herbs and mix until everything is thoroughly combined. Season with fresh cracked black pepper to taste.