The Black Radish. Sounds like a disappointing pirate ship doesn’t it? But is in fact a cracking little winter harvest. I planted a few rows of Black Spanish Round Radishes in late July in drills. I didn’t water. I didn’t weed. I didn’t thin them. I pretty much forgot I’d planted them. (They were, in hindsight, a little too close to the artichokes and so, for much of their lives, lived hidden beneath lolling great artichoke leaves which might explain my radish amnesia.)
Upon mulching the artichokes at the weekend, we re-discovered rows of now perfectly round, jet black lovelies about the size of tennis balls. Despite the neglect, the radishes had flourished. Clearly, unlike regular radishes they are far more sedate growers and, thankfully, are not prone to the bolting which turns red radishes inedibly woody. They also appear to be blissfully untroubled by the burrowing critters akin to carrot fly that plagued my red radish crop.
But what to do with them? I mean, 2-3kg of black radish: it’s not top of everyone’s veg box request is it? However, they taste far milder than spring radishes, less peppery and more turnipy, so they’re easier to use in larger quantities. A potato and radish gratin is my first thought, but that will have to wait as I’ve only time for a quick spurt in the kitchen which depletes the glut by at least 5 radishes (yes, alright, I appreciate I’ve some way to go):
Pickled Black Radishes
- 2-3 black radishes
- 200ml cider vinegar
- 175g caster sugar
Put the sugar and the vinegar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, cautiously slice the radish into thin slivers using a peeler or mandolin (I warn you, I am wearing a blue plaster having done this so approach with trepidation.) Add the radish slices to the warm pickling liquor and allow everything to sit for 5 minutes before transferring, juice and all, to a container. This stores in a jar for several weeks and is delicious with cheese and smoked fish.
Radished Bread and Butter
Nothing loves the humble radish more than butter. And a slice of good white bread smothered with salted butter, layered with slices of black radish and sprinkled with Maldon salt is a joy to behold. There’s something idyllic about the simplicity of this dish – its almost bucolic.
Roasted Radish ‘Chips’
Again, more of an assembling than a recipe. Peel the radishes and cut them into wedges or thick batons. Toss them in a good glug of sunflower or grapeseed oil (something flavourless) and season well with salt and pepper. Roast at 200 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the radishes are crispy and brown on the outside and yielding when you stick a knife through them. These are deeply savoury chips and would go well with something rich like venison or grouse.