Relishing Radishes

Yesterday we took our dog to his favorite place, the Point Isabelle dog park, where the wild mustard and radishes are in full flower and the ground is currently soft enough to gather roots.  The radishes were so appealingly enormous that we hauled up a handful of them, and brought them home to sample. Since the bay area is liberally strewn with radishes right now, you might want to do the same!

Radish (R. sativus, foreground, large white flowers) and mustard (background, small clustered yellow flowers), growing wild at Point Isabelle. The ripe pointed silique (seed pod) of the radish is visible in the center of the picture.

Radish flowers can be purple, white, pink, or yellow. They grow singly or in small clusters, which is one way to tell yellow radish flowers from the more heavily-clustered flowers of mustard. Another difference is the siliques, which are young and thin on this radish, but still much larger than those of mustard.

Harvesting tips:

-Don’t eat the ones that have started to flower.  The roots will be tough and fibrous.  The root should snap with a nice crunch when you chop or break it.

-look for radishes with one whorl of large leaves (not a whole clump, which signifies an older plant), and take a look at the root underneath before you dig it up.  It should be smooth and white or pink–not woody and dry, although some good roots look dry on top, so peek down under soil level. We found some very nice large radishes with appealing leaves and roots growing under the protection of fennel plants, so that might be a place to start.

Radish greens that are good for eating, from a plant with a nice big healthy taproot.

-wash and scrub them extremely thoroughly when you get them home.  I even peeled them with a carrot peeler.

-break off the long tendril-y root tip.  It’s too fibrous to enjoy.

-If you plan on eating the greens (which are good if you like bitter greens; similar to beet greens), choose evenly-colored leaves, make sure you wash each leaf thoroughly, look for and remove any bad spots, and remove the stems.

The best (and biggest) of the radish greens and roots we collected.

I followed this recipe from food and wine magazine for roasted radishes and greens.  The roots were very good cooked this way–it cut the spicy isothiocyanate flavor, and gave them a nice crisp-tender texture.  The greens were good too, but a whole bowlful of bitter greens turns out to be a bit much for me.  Definitely good side-dish material.

The finished product: roasted radishes and radish greens. Very tasty!


5 thoughts on “Relishing Radishes

  1. They look delicious! Do you have wild carrot around where you are? I’ve always wanted to try the roots, but have never managed to get to a plant when it was young enough for the roots to be tender.

    I love your blog!

    • Hi Johanna,
      Thanks so much for the visit! Wild carrot/Queen Anne’s lace grows in California but I only ever notice it when it has already gone to flower…plus I’ve always been a little leery of confusing it with hemlock. I just got a really good photographically-illustrated guide to edible plants (Nature’s Garden, by Samuel Thayer), so I’m excited to go foraging armed with better reference pics.

  2. I wonder if they’d be good in this new recipe I tried last week, where I made mashed potatoes with turnips. The recipe calls for any kind of root vegetable, so presumably, it should work right?

    • Oooohhh, that sounds like a good call. The radishes have a bit of a bite even after roasting, but when blended with potatoes that might be really good…I love garlic mashed potatoes, after all. Besides anything with a generous dollop of cream and butter should be pretty darn delicious :). Good tip!

  3. Pingback: April showers bring fruitful foraging! | A bouquet from Mendel

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