June 25, 2010

I Lost the Battle, Then Won the War: Pickled Radishes

My nemesis! My nightmare. The thing that makes me go "bluh."

I think radishes are disgusting, horrible things! They're like little red round vermin of the Earth! They grow in any garden with little encouragement. They bite your tongue with a fieriness that overtakes the flavor of other foods, in salads and slaws. But I'm a believer in eating everything from the Earth. Especially if it's in season and can be found local. So, I'm tackling my red nemesis with some brine! Bring it on, plump red demons! I plan to win this battle of the palate.

Battle #1: Pickled Radishes with Chili Peppers and Bay Leaves
I merged a few recipes into one. I went online and read several blogs, as well as the Food Network Website. Some sites said to use vinegar and sugar, with a touch of salt. Some comments said this was too sweet and to make a more formal brine with vinegar, sugar, and water (again a touch of salt). Some sites included peppercorns, bay leaves, etc.

So, as my first attempt, I tried
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 3/4 cup water, 4 T organic agave, 2 T kosher salt, 3 dried chili peppers, and 4 dried bay leaves.

And you know what! My nemesis won this battle--when I opened the jar to eat the pickled radishes, they smelled like butt! They tasted like nothing, with a dirty sock aroma/aftertaste.

But I would not be beaten. I tried again. I got rid of the bay leaves and went for the harder ammunition.

Battle #2: Pickled Radishes with Chili Peppers
This is the battle that won the war! The pickled radishes came out like sweet, powerful vixens! An immediate sweet flavor, followed by a great wallop of tartness, with a good crisp pickled crunch and still with a touch of their natural pepperyness.

organic radishes (a pound or about 2-3 bunches)
1 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
2 T kosher salt
3 dried chili peppers

1) Wash and thinly slice the radishes.
2) In a bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar and salt dissolve.
3) Put the slices radishes into a clean glass jar.
4) Pour the pickling brine over the sliced radishes in the jar.
5) Slide the dried chili peppers into the jar.
6) Put the cap on the jar. Then, put in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Meaner, Greener, Leaner!
* This recipe needs no cooking. That means no electricity or gas used to create heat!! Hoorah!
* A new local, organic, seasonal food to eat! That's good for my body (no pesticides) and good for the Earth (low carbon emissions).

Here are more pictures from the process.

Starting with a nice clean bell jar ...

Freshly scrubbed evil ...

Remember how I said I hate radishes? "They all ran after the farmer's wife. She cut off their tails with a carving knife."

So as it turns out, radishes are breathtakingly beautiful. And actually very very tasty when pickled! I spent the day eating these, and I plan to eat a bunch more tomorrow!

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