I have no opening statement for this post, because I have said it all before; I love pickling things. I just love it; I love the colours it creates and I love how it captures the flavours of a season in a jar, extending the life of the ingredients and the memories.
Pickled radishes are a staple in my kitchen. They are a lovely juxtaposition of sweet and tangy and brighten up any dish they are strewn over top of.
The process is so simple, and unlike the lemons I pickled a few months ago, the flavour is noticeably different even within an hour.
Slice a bunch of radishes as thinly as you can – either with a grater or a mandolin and pack them as tightly as you can into a glass jar.
Cover them with a tablespoon of sugar, another of salt and a third of olive oil. Top with a glug of apple cider vinegar – enough for all of the radishes to be covered.
Shake it up and leave it to settle, the colour of the radishes will leach out into the liquid, colouring it a beautiful bright pink which will also be absorbed into the white flesh of the radishes.
You can even experiment with what you add to the pickling solution. What’s your favourite way of doing it?
They say that your tastebuds change every seven years, that your body almost resets itself and redefines the way it reacts to different flavours and textures. I have found that over the last year, the way that my body reacts to a variety of things has completely readjusted itself; I don’t particularly like white wine anymore and I am highly sensitive to pollen and olive trees, I have also fallen in love with radishes.
“Fallen in love”, is technically not the right way of putting it; as a child I thought radishes were awesome. I remember being assigned a science experiment testing how radishes grew in varying environments – darkness, cold etc. and instead of placing my radishes in dank, cold cupboards where I knew they would die, I left them all on the veranda to flourish and changed the experiment to ‘how many radishes can I eat in one sitting’. But as the years progressed, leading up to my teens, I thought they were awful. I hated the peppery aftertaste, and texture; not a quite a crunch but not soft either.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I tried them again, and now I can’t get enough of them.
Most people are stumped at coming up with ways to use radishes that extend further than a pop of colour in a salad, but I love to roast them and cover them in brown butter sauce.
Place your radishes, halved or quartered onto an oven tray and bake at 230°C for 20-30 minutes, until their skin is pink and crisp, not quite burning, but so close it almost hurts. The flesh will be plump and juicy, no longer dry and tart like when they’re raw.
While they are cooking, melt a knob of butter and a pinch of salt, mix constantly over a medium heat until it shines like glassy caramel. Squeeze in a dash of lemon juice at the very last moment before serving – either pour over top of the radishes or serve on the side and dunk them in. Make sure that you have a napkin close at hand, you’ll need it to mop up the gooey butter and warm radish juice running down your chin!