NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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First Up - Radishes!

First Up – Radishes!


                Radishes are one of the fastest vegetables you can grow as many varieties are ready to be harvested in as little as three weeks. The word "radish" comes from the Latin “radix,” meaning “root,” and the Greek word "raphanus," which translates to "quickly appearing” may have to do with the fact that radishes are one of the fastest sprouters in the garden when they're planted from seed.

                Radishes are great for interplanting with lettuce or other spring greens, and can help to naturally thin those crops as the radishes are harvested.

                Many of us are only familiar with the round red or pink and white radishes, but radishes come in a lot of different colors, shapes, and sizes, and can be spicy or sweet, depending on the variety gardeners as well.

                In the U.S., the average large radish is red, round with a glistening white interior and roughly the size of a ping pong ball. Another popular radish is the creamy white daikon.  The original radish was black and other varieties come in pink, dark grey, purple, two-tone green and white, and yellow.

                The radish is well-traveled and ancient, mentioned in historical Chinese annals as early as 2,700 B.C. Egyptians cultivated them even before building the pyramids. Greeks and Romans liked them as large as they would grow, and served them with honey and vinegar. Radish cultivation reached England, Germany, Mexico, and Puerto Rico by the 1500s.

                Before refrigerating radishes, wash, remove greens from the top, and place in plastic baggies with a paper towel at the bottom. This optimizes moisture content from the rest of the radish and helps keep them fresh for about a week. Sliced, they make a zippy addition to sandwiches and salads.

                Radishes are a very good source of vitamin C – 25% of the daily recommended value – helping to rebuild tissues and blood vessels, and keeping bones and teeth strong. Vitamin C fights disease and rescues the cells from an onslaught of destructive free radicals.  

                It's probably no surprise that radishes contain fiber, aka indigestible carbohydrates. This keeps your intestinal system functioning with regularity and also aids in maintaining a healthy weight.

                Radishes also contain an important isothiocyanate antioxidant compound called sulforaphane, a proven cancer fighter. They remove bilirubin from the liver, preventing jaundice, and perform other healthful tasks like purifying kidney and urinary systems, regulating blood pressure, relieving congestion, and preventing respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis.

                Daikon or Japanese radish is native to Asia. It is grown during winter months and features elongated smooth, icy-white roots.

                Black Spanish radishes are peppery and more flavorful than their white counterparts.

                Green radish is native to Northern China region. Its outer peel near the top stem end features leafy-green color which, gradually changes to white color near the lower tip. Inside, its flesh has beautiful jade green color, sweet and less pungent flavor.

                Watermelon radishes have watermelon like flesh inside. They are less peppery but mildly sweet something similar to that of white icicle varieties.

                A spicy salad including radishes can be a great summer time dish.


Radish, Onion and Cucumber Salad

                2 C. sliced radishes

                ½ tsp salt

                1 C. sliced red onion

                1 C. seeded and sliced cucumbers

                ½ C. extra virgin olive oil

                2 T white wine vinegar

                ½ tsp. white sugar

                1 clove garlic, minced

                1 tsp. chopped fresh dill


                Toss radishes with salt; let stand for about 10 minutes. Drain any liquid and transfer radishes to a large bowl. Add red onion and cucumber slices.

                Whisk olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and dill in a small bowl until well mixed; pour over vegetables and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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