Vege Profile: Radish

Rad. Radical. Radish.

Little bitty colourful bites with sassy pep and a satisfying crunch. Kimchi wouldn’t be the same without daikon. Salads would be sadly lacking without that blam of peppery goodness. Roasted or pickled? Yes to both.

Because they grow so quickly, radish are ideal for children's gardens… and the impatient adults among us! The genus that includes radishes is called Raphanus, Greek for "quickly appearing", while the name radish comes from the Latin radix, meaning root.

Almost no records have been found regarding their domestication. Best guess, Raphanus sativus originated from Southeast Asia, as this is the only region where truly wild forms have been discovered. After developing throughout India and China, radishes next popped up in Greek history books. They were held in such high regard the Grecians made gold replicas as an offering to the god apollo.

The radish love didn’t end there. Each December there is a festival in Oaxana, Mexico dedicated to carving elaborate sculptures out of radishes. This dates back to the 16th century, when visiting monks introduced the new vegetable and wanted to garner attention for their wares. They crafted sculptures to catch the local's eye. With ingenuity like that, I’m sure those monks would have been a hit on TikTok.

Radish was chosen as one of the first vegetables grown on space stations. They grew successfully in zero gravity and successfully supplied "live" vitamins to the astronauts.

Radishes contain antioxidants, calcium, potassium and vit C. These nutrients help lower blood pressure, reduce risk for heart disease and is a good source of nitrates, helping improve blood flow. Radishes are a great low-cal snack; one cup of sliced radishes has only 19 calories.

Radishes can be useful as a companion plant, because their pungent Odor deters aphids, beetles, and ants. Cucumbers and radishes are a particular dream team.

Radishes can be categorized according to the seasons they are grown and by a variety of shapes, lengths, colours, and sizes, such as red, pink, white, grey-black, or yellow, with round or elongated roots that can grow up to 60cm!

Favourite variety names include Champion, cherry belle, French breakfast, and Sicily giant. Naming game on point radish! 

To store: Remove radish leaves if they are still attached. Store the unwashed greens in a loosely wrapped bag in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. Store radish roots unwashed in a bag in the refrigerator for 1 week.

To prep: Scrub radishes well. Trim off the stem and rootlets.

To use: Eat radishes raw with a sprinkle of salt. Grate radishes into slaws and salads. Try small young radish leaves in salads or scrambled eggs. Blanch whole radishes in boiling salted water for 5-10 minutes, or steam them until just tender, 8-12 minutes. Top with butter, salt, and pepper or with a vinaigrette. They’re also great grilled and pickled.

To freeze: Blanch for 3 minutes, then dunk in ice water for 3 minutes. Drain. Pop in a freezer bag and freeze. The radish greens can be blanched as well -- but only for 2 minutes.


Radish recipes

  • tostadas, sopes, enchiladas
  • Pozole stew
  • bimbimbap with pickled radishes
  • lentil salad with herbs, feta and steamed radishes
  • miso glazed roasted radishes
  • Brown butter radishes
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