This spring was not kind to my radishes. I harvested a few, but noticed they grew most quickly above ground without creating much of anything “radish” wise. I pouted briefly, before realizing I had used all my heirloom seeds and would need more. So wild and crazy went my radish patch. I had no idea what I was getting into. Seemingly suddenly my cute tame garden entry was taken over by enormous stalks with flowers going every which way.
I admit it was pretty, despite the chaos. There were vibrant purple flowers along with crisp whites. The flowers were almost as pretty as those cute little radishes I had expected. They were also tall, much taller than I expected. In time those flowers faded and the seed pods took over. I had expected a few pods per radish, a dozen at most really. Not that I had any basis for my expectations, it was all random guesswork and preconceived notions. I was certainly not prepared for the onslaught. One radish seed turned into a powerhouse that could reseed the patch for a couple years.
The vast quantity sent me to my computer where I started searching the internet for info on harvesting and preserving the seeds. My first search sent me on an entirely new tangent. The pods are edible! Why did I not think of that? Why are the market tables not flooded with the gorgeous, prolific pods? I wonder if I have been glossing over the tables thinking they are something else or if the radishes are just more marketable with all their color.
I started calling people and looking for recipes. I gathered a pod and forced my husband to taste it. He was tentative but seemed happily surprised. These slightly alien looking things taste like radishes. The seeds have a pop of juice and extra heat, but there is no questioning their origin.
My son and I gathered the tangled mess of radish plants and took them to a comfortable shady spot to start gathering. We gave some away. We blanched and froze some. We munched on a couple with slight winces (neither of us can handle much raw heat). We set aside a bowl of finger snacks for my husband. Then we got to cooking with the rest. We made a delicate radish pod soup. We made stir fry. Then we made plans next year to set half the radish section of the garden aside for pods only. Apparently there is a whole variety of “rat tail” radishes that are bred just for pods!
So next time you see your favorite vendor, who recently was selling those gorgeous bundles of radishes, give a little nudge and a little wink. Find out if they will be bringing any pods to market!
For those who find the treasure and feel experimental toss a handful of chopped pods in to water for soup. We added a sliced “normal” radish, a garlic scape, some cubed tofu and some vegetable broth powder. It went great with grilled cheese and fresh local tomato sandwiches.