As a vegetable, radishes never caught my attention before this year. Working on a school garden class at the beginning of the season, we were looking for crops that grow in cool spring weather and that also have a quick harvest to open the season. We planted radishes in early March and by the first week in April we had market ready French Breakfast and Easter Egg radishes ready for salad greens. So what do radishes do for a body? A lot of wonderful things! In fact radish greens are edible and are a “new” sought-after green among cutting-edge chefs. Radish pesto anyone?
Radishes are a member of the Brassica family (cabbage) and have the same health benefits. Raphanus sativus, the genus and species name, has had a long history as a liver and toxicity tonic that has a lot of nutritional value. This chart is from Med-Health.net.
Nutritional Fact in Raw Radish
|Serving Size (100 mg)||Amount Per Serving|
|Water Count||95.3 grams|
|Total Fat||0.1 grams|
|Vitamin A||7.0 IU|
|Vitamin C||14.8 milligrams|
|Vitamin K||1.3 micrograms|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||31.0 milligrams|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||17.0 milligram|
Radishes are an annual vegetable that have their origins in Southeast Asia in a wild form. The Greeks and Romans discovered radishes 2000-3000 years ago. They were used medicinally and eaten with vinegar and honey.
Historically radishes have been used as a spring tonic in herbal medicine and greens that helped cleanse the liver after a long winter. Radishes are divided into 2 types: Spring radishes and winter radishes. The spring radishes are the common salad verities that are found in a grocery store. Newer to the supermarket is the Daikon radish or Japanese radish which make great raw root salads.
Daikon radishes are also used as a cover crop and soil conditioner. They grow into 18’ long mineral accumulators that help break up compacted soil and release nutrients in organic gardens. The radish of choice for use in herbal medicine is the Spanish Black radish, a baseball sized root with bright white flesh and jet black surface skin. All the radishes can be used in recipes.
Coarsely chop one fennel bulb and some of the green tops and toss with ½ head Napa or Chinese cabbage and one bunch of any type of radish (and greens to taste). Toss with your favorite Italian salad dressing and garnish with roasted and salted pumpkinseed for dish that is attractive and slightly spicy. Adding segmented orange or mango with a raspberry vinaigrette is another option.
Caron Wenzel is an Environmental Educator, writer, and is the owner of Blazing Star Inc. a 26 year old native plant seed nursery and environmental consulting business. Blazing-Star.com.