Radishes are a root vegetable and members of the mustard and cabbage family. Although there are varieties of radishes spread all around the world today, the radish probably originated somewhere in Southeast Asia where wild radishes still grow. Different varieties have a wide range of sizes, colors, flavors and times they take to mature. However, they all have a somewhat sharp bite. The root skin color ranges from white to pink, red, purple, yellow, green and black, but the flesh is usually white. The large daikon radish originated in China. The Spanish introduced the radish to Mexico in the 16th century and they soon became a staple in Mexican cuisine. In Oaxaca, every December 23 is the Night of Radishes where oversized radishes are carved for prizes. Radishes and edible radish leaves are packed with minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. With few calories, this makes radishes very nutrient dense.

Peak Time: March to June

Average Price: $1.89 per pound

Tips for Selection and Storage: Beautiful red spring radishes are the most common found in US grocery stores. However, in farmer’s markets you can find all kinds of varieties. In general, the first thing you should look at for freshness are the greens attached. They should look bright green and fresh with no signs of browning or wilting. The radish root should be very hard when purchased but may go squishy after a week or so in the refrigerator. Look for holes or defects in the root. You can store most unwashed radishes with greens separate, wrapped in a paper towel in baggies in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

 Tips for Preparation: When ready to use, wash radishes and trim or not, depending on use. Radish roots can be served whole, sliced, shaved, shredded, or chopped depending on the recipe. They are eaten raw, marinated or pickled, baked, braised or roasted. Raw radishes go well with a variety of fresh vegetables, grains or fruit salads. The French are famous for serving fresh radishes with the greens still intact and dipping them into butter with a dash of salt for an appetizer. Many traditional Mexican dishes use radishes as a garnish. They are used raw and thinly sliced on top of enchiladas, tacos and pozole. Radishes can be roasted alone or with other root vegetables to accompany meat or chicken dishes. Don’t forget the radish greens! The greens be roasted or sauteed along with the radishes or on their own. They can be added to stir fries, frittatas, scrambled eggs, rice bowls, quesadillas, and more. Radish greens can also be used to make pesto.

Nutritional Highlights: Radishes and radish greens are rich in antioxidant vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as dietary fiber. Radish greens also are an excellent source of vitamin K. The roots and greens are also powerful sources of antioxidant phytonutrients that help prevent certain cancers and heart disease. Radishes also help stabilize glucose levels. Radishes and radish greens have been used for millennia in traditional medicines for inflammation, digestive disorders, urinary and liver infections, and heart conditions. The whole plant has been found to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-viral properties. The dietary fiber in radishes and radish greens are super pre-biotics for good gut bacteria.

For a recipe for roasted radishes, click here.