I put these little beauties up right before I left for South Africa, since I knew that two big bunches of radishes would do nothing but wither and die in the crisper if they had to rely on my Darling Hubs to eat them. They have been pickling away, down in the relative coolness of the garage, for over a month now, so I figured it was about time for a taste test.
First and foremost: I won’t pickle the long, skinny French radishes again. They look like nothing so much a shriveled human fingers, floating in a jar of formaldehyde. Not so appetizing.
Secondly, Tai said: “They sort of taste like fingers, too.”
“Excuse me?”, I replied. “And how exactly do you know what fingers taste like?”
“I mean they are sort of squishy on the outside, like fingers, but crunchy in the middle, like bones.” Ah, of course. Silly of me.
“But how is the flavor?” she persists. “Can you taste the ginger? The Thai pepper?”
“Oh, yeah, they are really gingery. Good soy flavor too. You don’t taste the hot pepper very much.”
“Ah well,” she sighed. “At least the brine turned out well.”
“I think they’d be good sliced into a salad!” Tai’s answer to everything: put it in a salad.
Verdict? Flavor: A. Texture: C-. Appearance: F. Anyone out there have a kick-ass radish pickle recipe to share?
- 2 large bunches of baby radishes (or regular radishes halved or quartered), well-scrubbed and root and stem ends trimmed
- 1 and 1/2 cups rice vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- 5 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp Kosher salt (or pickling salt)
- 5 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger
- 6 dried Thai hot chile peppers (the teeny red ones; break open to expose seeds for added kick)
- Sterilize your jars: as I did not plan to water-bath can these pickles, I sterilized the jars for 10 minutes in a 225 degree F oven.
- Combine vinegar, honey, soy, salt, ginger and peppers in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat (watching carefully as it will foam up considerably); stir to dissolve honey & salt and boil gently for about 5 minutes to combine flavors. Keep at a low boil.
- Meanwhile, fill sterilized jars with radishes to about 1/2-inch headspace; pack tightly as radishes will shrink quite a bit in the brine. Pour boiling brine over the radishes, including some of the ginger and peppers. Remove any air bubbles with a wooden spoon handle, push the ginger and peppers to the middle of the jar (if possible), wipe the rim and affix the lid. Invert the jar to mix the contents and aid in sealing; then leave out at room temperature and wait for jars to cool & seal. If jars do not seal, refrigerate, or switch to a new lid and water-bath process for 10 minutes.
Yields approximately 3 cups.
- Ideas to preserve crisp texture: additional salt? Commercial crisping agent? Cooler temperature pickling (refrigerator)? Anyone?
- I would add additional Thai peppers, and break some open, to up the spice level next time.
If you achieve a good seal, store at room temperature, protected from light, for up to 1 year. If not, refrigerate; they should last for months.
These tiny little radishes show up at farmer’s markets in the Spring and sometimes again in the Fall.