Radish is a quick and easy crop, and this is where the flibbertigibbet of season worked in my favour. I was late getting them in and ordinarily the weather warms up and then all they do is bolt to seed with no sign of a fat bottom at all. But with the season on constant reset back to very cold after a few days of almost warm enough, I was able to trick my radish into growing perfectly. And they were fabulous. Perfectly formed things of beauty.
That is the thing about radish – which are great as an addition to the salad, but they generally don’t sit well as the entire salad… if you get what I mean. They are spicy and have that weird brassica flavour that is ok in small doses. It is funny that everyone recommends them as something for kids to grow because aside from being fast, therefore there is no waiting around for the short attention span of modern kids, but they also look pretty. But that is where the advantage ends. Image the disappointment of someone trying this quick growing crop that looks so good you expect it to taste so much better and erring on the sweet side. I wouldn’t be surprised if the shock hasn’t put would be growers off for life! It is definitely not a kid friendly flavour and we should get them to grow strawberries or sugar snap peas instead!
Back to my radish. I had begun having a few in salads to add their own special something, and the salads were nice. However, life got really busy for a week or two and my perfect radish kept growing and entered the almost too far gone stage. I had to act quickly to save the crop and I knew just what I was going to do. Something I’ve done before.
Have you ever heard of the tip where you sow radish seeds alongside carrot seeds? The radish are supposed to help reduce the need for carrot thinning because once you harvest the radish the carrot spacing is perfect. I’m not convinced on this. As much as I hate thinning carrots because it seems so wasteful, but I would rather do it than have the alternative. I tried it one season and ended up giving away radish by the carrier bag full – kilos at a time! The carrots grew on well enough – but no one needs that much radish. It was coming out of my ears.
It was then I stumbled across a great recipe for Radish Relish. You can read more about that over abundant radish situation in my first book The Good Life and find my original recipe for it. However, this time I didn’t have all the same ingredients so mixed things up a bit. So long as you don’t alter the ratios for the preserving ingredients – the vinegar, sugar and salt, then you can play with the herbs and spices and flavours to make something different each time.
So, this is what I did this time.
I washed all the radish and topped and tailed them. Then I grated them to find out just how much I had – turned out there were 7 cups! Eek
The recipe called for a red onion, and I only had a half one in the fridge and some bought browns ones that I need to use up before my harvest comes in – which due any day! So, I grated those up too.
Then I looked at my supplies of spices, which is actually somewhat depleted since our move. I’m not sure where they all went. They are probably in a box somewhere, so I had to work with what was there. I decided on an anise tone and measured out caraway, dill and fennel seeds and some mixed peppercorns. I used a couple of teaspoons of each.
I also decided to use up some store-bought garlic while mine was curing on the back porch. Waste not want not and all that. I also found a lemon in the fridge, so I zested and juiced it and added a knob of grated ginger. I’m not entirely sure the ginger is a match for the other flavours, but it was in the fridge and I was beginning to be a bit free and easy with things that would be good to use up. Fortunately, this is where I drew the line.
Then the important stuff was measured out accurately – white vinegar, salt and sugar. For three cups of grated radish you need one cup of vinegar and one cup of sugar and two teaspoons of salt.
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and leave for three hours. You can leave it longer if you have to go and watch the Santa Parade in town. I found it was still fine. After soaking, it all takes on a lovely pink colour.
Bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat until it thickens into a relish-like consistency – erring on the wet side. Stir often so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Then pop into sterile jars and seal. If you store it in a dark cupboard it can keep for up to a year. For my seven cups of grated radish I got four and a half cup sized jars. They look so pretty they would make a lovely Christmas gift… if I want to share…
But if you can’t wait, it goes nicely with a crisp cracker and a creamy cheese. It is a delish tangy, sweet and sour flavour with a slight crunch.
Come again soon – the rhubarb is dying for some preserving action too!
Sarah the Gardener : o)