By Hans Wieland
The radish (Raphanus sativus) which “occupies a far more exalted position in Oriental cultures” (Joy Larkcom) than in European food circles, seems to be making a comeback this year. “We are starting to see radish appetisers, roasted radishes and other musings with the vegetable on menus”, says Andrew Freeman, president of restaurant consulting firm AF&Co.
1. Radishes are super healthy.
Gut health is becoming an increasingly popular area of our physical selves to be taking good care of and radishes are a secret weapon against bad bacteria and funguses in our guts. They contain natural isothiocyanates, such as mustard oils, which help to protect our digestive system and are also responsible for the sharp, pungent, peppery flavour, ranging from mild in the case of white icicles to very hot in red globe and other pigmented varieties.
2. Radishes are extremely powerful when it comes to nutritional benefits.
Loaded with the important minerals potassium, calcium and iron they are full of vitamins A, B1, B2 and 100g can provide 25% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C. Radishes contain mostly water (94%) and therefore 100g of them contains only 15 calories, which makes them an ideal food for slimming diets.
3. Radishes are easy to grow anywhere.
Radishes are one of the first vegetables to harvest fresh in April, even grown in a pot on a balcony in a city flat. For a continuous, nearly all year round supply of those delicious ‘sharp devils’, sow every two to three weeks from March to September, one centimeter deep, every five centimeters, in rows of ten centimeters apart, or else broadcast. The seeds will germinate in a few days and these plants love temperatures of 12-15° C in a sunny spot. In early spring you can cover with a light fabric or veil if it gets too cold at night. It’s most important to keep the soil moist as lack of water makes them too sharp and sometimes hollow. You should be able to harvest 4 to 6 weeks after sowing.
Radishes are so easy to grow and so and rarely suffer from pests or diseases that they’re also an ideal crop for children to get interested in growing.
4. Radishes for all seasons.
Radishes come in numerous varieties, varying in size, shape, colour and crop duration. Categorised into spring/summer and winter radishes, they are also often classified as red, black or white. Popular varieties are Cherry Bell, Long White Icicle, French Breakfast and China Rose. My personal favourites are autumn/winter maturing mooli varieties like daikon or neptune. Mooli radishes are crisp, pure white 25cm long roots and mild in flavour.
If you want to try something extraordinary, grow Munchen Bier radish, which are grown for their very spicy seed pods and the tops can be eaten as leafy-greens!
5. The perfect radish recipe.
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