Ahh yes….the humble radish (raphanus sativus).
Up until a few years ago, I thought very little of this rather unkempt looking brassica. Its quick-bolting, self-seeding tenancies proving to be good for nothing but a bit of extra winter-weeding exercise!
It was only when I was about to embark on yet another marginal land rejuvenation project, that I was hit with a permaculture inspired, light bulb idea. My rubbish radish problem had become my solution: a seed saved plan for transforming that “infertile junk strip” – as stated by one of my lovely and honest Permi. Pals – into a food growing paradise.
Last summer, when our town was bombarded with smoke, hail and scorching sunshine, I set about putting my corporate-body-approved revitalisation plan into action. Three gas mask wearing months later, after plenty of hoeing, sowing and countless water can loads of liquid (worm tea and H2O), and my rubbish strip was bearing a moderate yield of radishes, leafy greens, radishes, tomatoes, and yes…you got it…more radishes. Some were even fit for salad eating consumption, the rest finding a good home under a thick layer of hay-straw mulch!
By March, when the world suddenly stood still and learning went online and under house arrest, my kids and I took to the space with gay abandon. Fervently digging into the slightly-more-fertile-than-last-season soil, we planted up plenty of undercovid raised winter greens, such as mustard, beets, cauliflower, sprouting, lettuce, and kale….to name a few.
In time with the dawning of spring, our inground winter nursery was flourishing with a sizable bounty of healthy green plants. So profitable was our little home science experiement that we had enough to donate to…
My children’s school garden project…
Our housing complex’s community garden…
As well as plenty of radish (and other) produce to satiate even the most rapacious of lunch time appetites, in the form of fermented pickles.
And so it is with rejuvenated delight that I present to you the recipe for my not so rubbish, Radi’cool Pickles.
1 ½ tsp salt
1 c filtered water
Steilised mason jars
One way valve attachment (purchased from a local brewing store)
Eating fermented foods not only improves gut health, it also helps the body to absorb additional micro-nutrients released as a byproduct of the fermentation process. Whilst making radi’cool pickles is quite simple, fun, and very rewarding, if one wishes to take the pickling game seriously, some kit has to be purchased (and some DIY jobs done on the lids of the jars). Namely mason jars, one way valves, pH paper, seals and fermenting weights.
When I make radi’cool pickles, I like to use a 1:1 ratio of onion to radishes. This ratio can easily be alterered depending on supply. Start by slicing the onions and radishes about ¼ of an inch thick. In a measuring jug, mix the salt and filtered (or chlorine free) water.
Layer the onions and the radishes into the jar ensuring they are packed tightly. To avoid having to use fermenting weights (I find they are just another thing to clean and sterilise), make the last layer a large onion ring that wedges below the lip of the jar. Pour over the salted water to ½ inch from the top of the jar. Place on the fermenting lid. Leave for atleast 3-4 days. The pickles are ready when the pH (use pH paper for this) is 4 or below.
Serve your radi’cool pickles for lunch on a thick slice of….yep…you got it….buttered bread.
Oh…and as the that now healthy scrap of marginal, rubbish land…
Well after a small boost, in the form of a generous helping of top quality compost, it is now home to our future bush tucker and perennial food gardens.