Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Marinated Radishes

Jar of Radishes with Burger and Fixin's
The Alternative Burger Pickle

Recipe by Robin

As my doctor philosophized last week, we often have either too much of a good thing or not enough. This certainly seems true with radishes in a CSA share. Typically we receive a number of different radish varieties for several weeks, and then nothing. Although refrigerated radishes are hardy, they do deteriorate consistently as time goes by. An easy way to preserve them is to make simple refrigerator pickles.

Brine Being Poured into Jar of Radishes
Adding Part B to Part A
I'd envisioned a sweet and spicy pickle, and also wanted to temper the radishes’ sharpness. Using apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar helped mellow the radishes a bit. Yellow and black mustard seed plus peppercorns added spicy elements. I wanted a honey flavor, so added a good dollop along with some sugar. The resulting flavor combination is reminiscent of honey mustard, but with crunch appeal.

Most pickle recipes call for kosher salt, because regular salt can cloud the pickling liquid. However, since both apple cider vinegar and honey have a slight cloudiness anyway, you needn’t use kosher salt in this recipe unless you happen to have some on hand. You can use either yellow or black mustard seed instead of a combination. As usual, you can make your mix to taste, increasing or decreasing pickling ingredients as you like.

Row of Radishes on Cutting Board
French Breakfast Radishes
Radishes, as you know, vary in spiciness. I used the French breakfast variety, supposedly milder than many radishes. However, a radish’s spiciness depends not just on species but also on climate. Hotter weather produces hotter radishes. If your radishes seem extra-hot, you might consider reducing the amount of mustard seed and/or slicing them thinner so the vinegar can do its mellowing work more easily.

Jar of Pink Pickles
Radish Pickles are Pink!
One final word about radishes: remove their leaves before storing them. Otherwise the leaves will continue to suck water from the roots (ie. radishes), making them flaccid or rubbery. The leaves are edible (and spicy!) and can be cooked along with spinach or other soft greens. They’re not good raw because their texture is too bristly.

Try these pickles on sandwiches or salads, or before a meal to accompany other appetizers. Since these pickles are not processed in a boiling water bath they must be refrigerated. Eat them within two or three weeks for best taste.

Bowl of Salad Topped with Pink Pickles
Unique Salad Topping
Sweet and Spicy Marinated Radishes
makes 1 pint

1 large bunch radishes
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1½  tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. honey
½ tsp. whole peppercorns
1½ tsp. whole mustard seeds

Trim radishes and cut into ¼ inch slices. Fill up pint jar. If you’re short on radishes, you may add sliced carrots to fill the jar.

Bring vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and honey to a boil, stirring until dissolved. Add peppercorns, mustard seed, and bay leaf. Simmer one minute. Remove from heat.

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