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.
Nice…will give this a try tonight!
I would think increasing the salt would help with the texture, as most of the pickles I’ve made have a whole lot more than 2 tsp salt. Of course, if you wanted to keep the flavor profile, perhaps look into some low salt pickle recipes to see what they do? I know one of my books (small batch preserving) has a low salt pickle recipe that uses grape leaves which apparently help with the crispyness that salt usually provides to a pickle.
Consider allowing your brine to cool to room temperature, fill jars, allow to sit out for a day or even two (that much vinegar is going to keep most anything from growing), Then refrigerate for at least one month. Slicing the radishes before pickling would allow them to infuse with flavor more readily in this case.
An old friend used to make what she called Polish Summer Pickles, which were a cucumber pickle with dill and onion, but which had very little salt, and more vinegar than your typical pickle. She put everything in a gallon jar, and set it in the sun for several hours, like sun tea. She would then refrigerate it for a month. (Sometimes she couldn’t wait and got into them after 3 weeks) They had a very unique flavor and texture as the cucumbers hadn’t been cooked. Very refreshing on a hot day, and didn’t make you thirsty. Hm, now I have to see if I can find a recipe for them.
I’m sorry, I was wrong, they were called Hungarian Summer Pickles. I found a recipe that matches what I remember from watching her make them here: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/hungarianvegetagbles/r/summerpickles.htm
I hope that your next batch of radish pickles is even better than the first. When our next planting is ready to pick, I just might give these a go.
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I think had you salted them for at least a few hours before brining them, they would have been crisper. At least that’s what I saw someone do with cucumbers before pickling recently. I think the salting (dehydrating) also gives the veg/fruit more ability to pick up the pickling flavors after that.
They look delicious!
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