The radish (Raphanus sativus) is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Its relatives include kale, broccoli, turnips, and horseradish. The name “radish” comes from the Latin word for root, “radix.” The spicy or peppery flavor of radishes comes from their skin.
Radishes are thought to have originated in China, but they were also grown in Greece and Egypt. They were so highly valued that they were dipped in gold and offered to the Greek gods. Citizens of Oaxaca, Mexico celebrate la noche de los rábanos every December 23 by carving radishes into intricate designs.
Here in Yavapai County, radishes can be grown during the spring and fall, preferring milder temperatures. Our farmers grow several varieties, including light green and bright pink watermelon, white daikon, red, purple, pink, and black. Radishes grow quickly (about 30 days) so they are great for first-time gardeners. They are ready to harvest when they are about one inch in diameter.
Shoppers should choose radishes that are smooth and firm, with bright green leaves. Separate the root from the greens before washing and storing in the refrigerator. They are best eaten 2-3 days after purchase, but can be freshened in a bowl of ice water.
Considering their small size, radishes are packed with nutrients – fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, niacin, and folate, not to mention lots of water.
We typically eat the fleshy taproot, but peppery radish greens can be used wherever leafy greens are used, including pesto. The pinkish-white flowers are also edible and make a beautiful salad addition. Radishes can be pickled and stored in the refrigerator. Micgrogreen vendors often offer spicy radish sprouts, or you can try growing your own.