Radishes have been one of the few vegetables growing like gangbusters in the garden over the past 6 weeks, along with lettuce and the heartier greens. So it's high time we figured out what to do with them.
Through the spring, summer, and fall our garden produced a fair number of radishes (here's a post from a previous radish profusion last Spring). Throughout the year, in came the radishes, easy and reliable. I threw slices into krauts and added them to crocks of brine-pickled veggies, and Christopher grated them with carrots onto his salads. By the time the late fall bumper crop of radishes peaked, we had a backlog of radishes. So I was motivated to search for a way to use or preserve them in bulk.
Christopher's step-father once mentioned an old Mother Earth News recipe for radish relish that had been a favorite of theirs when they used to have a big garden. I looked in lots of books and on lots of websites, and found a wide variety of recipes, including the very same original Mother Earth News recipe, which contained way too much sugar for me to take it seriously.
I did discover that radish relishes are a popular condiment in a number of Asian cuisines, usually made as short-term "refrigerator pickles" without heat processing, and stored for weeks at a time in the fridge.
Loyal readers will recall my affection for refrigerator pickles (here's a post from last summer on refrigerator pickling). I like making them because they're easy, quick, and don't require heating up your kitchen with a steamy canning process. Making a refrigerator-relish from radishes seemed like the perfect short-term preservation method, and a good way to process a quantity of radishes at once.
So here's the recipe I created based on my radish relish research--mine is unlike most that I found in that it has no sugar, lots of ginger and garlic, and all good-for-you ingredients:
Spicy Radish Relish
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
- 20 medium-sized radishes
- 1-3 inches fresh ginger root
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- A few grinds of fresh pepper
- 4 Tbs honey
Radishes shredded and on their way to becoming relish.
- Wash and shred radishes – either with a hand grater or in the food processor – and put them in a bowl. Grind some pepper onto the radishes.
- Grate ginger finely and press garlic with a garlic press.
- In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, and honey; bring to a boil.
- Pour the hot liquid over the radishes. Cover and refrigerate. Let the flavors mingle and mellow at least overnight before using.
You could vary this recipe by adding onions and some finely chopped celery if you had some on hand and were so inclined.
After smelling and tasting this stuff, I can't imagine a better condiment for cold season. The pungent, spicy smell and taste seem like they would be the perfect little something on your plate when you have a cold or are coming down with one. The spicy radishes and mustard are great for clearing the sinuses, and the ginger and garlic are classic tonic herbs for winter. Add to that some immune-boosting local honey, and the healing power of apple cider vinegar, and you have another great tonic food - a kitchen concoction that is both delicious and good for what ails you.
The finished relish ready to marinate in the fridge