I’ve never been a big fan of radishes, but I’ve been trying. Their stunning beauty tempts me every spring and I just didn’t know what to do to like them as much as I wanted to. I knew that I was missing out. And I was! I always harbored a notion that pickling was solely for bespectacled old ladies in sweater-covered patterned dresses and maybe a bonnet for good measure. Knitting needles optional. In my head pickling was the stuff of the pre-war frugality, scrapbooks, and old basements. Nevermind the fact that pickling is a staple in so many cultures around the world, including in my own Russian roots. After a visit to my grandma and The Russian this weekend, I realized just how much I’ve been missing in the name of modernity.
One taste of these pickled, delicate rose-colored beauties and I was hooked. I’ve been eating them straight from the jar, cut up over crackers gently and layered over soft cheese, in salads with arugula and dried fruits, piled onto bread alongside fatty hunks of pate and strewn over Korean tofu. I made these little condiments, as well as preserved lemons, as part of my effort to cultivate an instinct of foresight in myself (by way of example, yesterday I got caught in the rain without an umbrella or waterproof boots, despite the weather reports AND a warning from grandma).
Sweet, tart, crisp and briny, pickled radishes embody the essence of spring and add a distinct flavor to everything. I really can’t believe I didn’t embrace this sooner. They’re quite different from pickled cucumbers, cornichons, olives or capers. A little sweeter. This recipe is foolproof and takes fewer than 15 minutes to prepare with results in a day. I have a feeling I’ll be using it on other vegetables (eggplants, cucumbers, onions, etc) very soon in an effort to preserve all of the hope and beauty that has finally started to sprout in New York.
Pickled Radishes adapted from David Lebovitz
- One pint jar
- 1 bunch or 4 long radishes (about 1-pound, 400 g of radishes)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar (I used white wine)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (or kosher salt)
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey (I used honey…this time)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- optional: 1 chili pepper, split lengthwise
If using long radishes, peel them. Trim off the leaves and roots and slice thickly. If using round radishes like I did, just rinse really well. No need to slice them until after pickling–unless you prefer them that way.
In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar or honey to a boil, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the peppercorns, garlic and chili, if using.
Pack the radishes in a clean pint-sized jar (I only had a huge jar), and pour the hot liquid over them, adding the garlic and chili into the jar as well if you so choose. I added a little garlic.
Cover and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
Storage: The radishes will be ready to eat after 24 hours. During storage, the liquid will turn a nice rosy color and flavors -such as garlic and hot peppers – will get stronger. The radishes can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month. I actually removed mine from the liquid after a few days to keep them a little crisper.