Radishes are a type of root vegetable that belongs to the mustard family. They come in many shapes, sizes and colours, which range from red, to purple and even to black. Their flavour also varies and can be mild or peppery. Sometimes radishes are sold complete with their leaves, which are also edible.
There are so many different radish varieties, but the ones we most commonly find are cherry belle radishes. These radishes have small bulbs with a vibrant pink exterior and white flesh. Cherry belle radishes are sweet and peppery with a wonderful crunch.
French breakfast radishes look similar to cherry belles, but are oblong in shape and have white tips.
Daikon radishes are much larger and longer than other radishes; in fact they can grow up to 1½ feet long! They are usually white in colour, although black ones do exist. They are milder in flavour compared to the more common pink varieties but still have a crisp texture. In fact, their flavour tends to vary throughout the vegetable. The bottom is usually more poignant and the top tends to be sweeter. Their aroma is very earthy. Daikon is commonly used in Asian dishes, and is an important part of the base for the famous pho broth in Vietnamese cuisine. It is also enjoyed as a tender vegetable in soups or stews in Chinese cuisine.
Watermelon radishes have a green and white exterior and bright pink interior, hence their watermelon moniker. They are tender crisp and mild, with a slightly peppery bite.
Black radishes are closer to the size of an apple, and have a black/brown exterior and creamy white flesh. They have a strong, heated bite with a slight bitterness. They make wonderful garnishes when sliced thin, by adding a tender crispness and great flavour!
How to Select and Store Radishes
Choose radishes that feel firm when squeezed gently. If they feel soft, it’s likely the inside won’t be very crunchy. Radishes should be unblemished and vibrantly coloured. If the radishes come with leaves, make sure they are also brightly coloured and avoid greens that are limp or wilted.
To store, remove leaves. Green radish tops are edible but don’t stay fresh for very long, so they should be stored separately and enjoyed within a day or two. Place radish roots in a plastic bag where they can be refrigerated for up to a week.
To Freeze Radishes
Radishes are best consumed fresh, but if you want to use some for stews, stocks, or soups later on, feel free to freeze them.
To freeze, remove any stems or leaves from the radish and wash well. To freeze the radishes, cut them into slices or medallions (depending on how you plan on using them later), then blanch in a pot of water at a rolling boil. The thicker the slices, the longer the blanch time. Thinly sliced radishes may take only 10 seconds, but thicker medallions may even take up to a minute or two.
Plunge radishes into an ice bath once cooked, then transfer to a baked sheet to flash freeze. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight bag or container and use within a year.
Similarly, to freeze the greens, blanch in boiling water until bright green and wilted, then transfer to an ice bath. Freeze with the stems spread apart, then transfer to an airtight container. Once defrosted, the leaves will be wilted so are best used in some form of purée.
How to Prepare Radishes
Wash radish tops as you would any other leafy green vegetable, using cool water and a salad spinner. Alternatively, dry them with a clean paper towel or tea towel. Enjoy them raw or lightly sautéed as you might cook spinach. They have a peppery taste.
When you are ready to use your radish roots, wash them well and trim the ends. Remove any little “hairs” or roots by just breaking them off. Raw radishes can be enjoyed whole or sliced. They can also be grated or cut into thin strips to add a subtle bite to a recipe – try adding raw grated radish to a potato or tuna salad.
Radishes are also delicious sautéed or roasted – all they need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil. When you cook a radish, the peppery taste will mellow.
Half a pound of radishes will yield about 1 2/3 cups sliced.
- Radishes can be eaten raw or cooked! Grate them to add to coleslaw, slice them for a fresh salad, simply roast them or try them in a traditional Viet Pho soup!
- In season, buy lots of fresh radishes and pickle them! Try our Pickled Radish recipe from Canadian cookbook author Amy Bronee.
- Radish tops are edible and add a peppery bite to a salad. If leaves are a little wilted, try refreshing them by soaking them in a bowl of cold water.
- To make radishes extra crisp, soak them in ice water for an hour in the fridge. This will make them extra crunchy and ready for the crudité platter or salad.
- If you find radishes are a little too strong, peel the skin, as that is where most of the heat lies.
- Radishes are available all year but our local season is usually from May to November.
Radishes go well with
Fruits and Veggies: avocado, celery, scallion, lemon, cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and spring greens
Herbs & Spices: Parsley, pepper, chives, thyme, cilantro, and dill
Savoury: crab, grains like farro, rice, or millet, lentils, pork, tofu, and eggs
Other: cream cheese, vinegar, cream, and feta
Radishes are wonderful when shaved or sliced thinly and added to salads or added as a garnish. Try them in a grain or salad bowl for some extra texture and flavour, or add them on top of tacos for a little pop of colour and bite.
To mellow out the peppery heat from radishes, roast them to bring out their sweetness with a little olive oil and salt. They’re perfect as a side dish!
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 100 grams of radishes (about 1 cup of sliced radishes) contain a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 30% of Vitamin C, 14% of folate, 8% of fibre (2 g), 8% of potassium, 5% of magnesium, and 3% of iron.