When I used this photograph as my profile picture on Facebook, everyone assumed it was a carrot.
I wish carrots grew this well in Southeastern Pennsylvania’s heavy clay soil! But this is a summer radish, which as its name suggested, does on first glance, look like a carrot.
“This rare summer radish was developed in Central Europe during the eighteenth century. It is mentioned in Austrian garden books as early as 1770 and was once widely cultivated in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Our seed for the original strain was discovered in a village in Slovakia.
The radish is used both raw in salads as well as cooked like turnips. It was also shredded and fermented with sauerkraut. The Hungarians stew it with peppers. Use like Daikon in Asian-style pickles.”
I washed (the golden skin is very thin, so if you want to preserve it for eating, wash carefully) and sliced one of the radishes so you can see the crisp white intereior. (See, it really is a radish!). Unlike many radish varities, these greens were worth eating — they aren’t fuzzy like many of the more popular radish varieties and they have a crisp. clean flavor.
If you make your own sauerkraut, shredding these radishes and adding them to the mix should both look and taste wonderful. While I linked to Sandor Katz’ basic sauerkraut recipe, he advocates for adding as many vegetables to sauerkraut as one can find. I’ve made cabbage-based sauerkraut with whatever else was in season and it’s always been a hit at family gatherings.
If you like Daikon pickles, the Long Yellow Radish will ripen sooner (and be nearly as large — since I’m growing for seed, I only harvested the ones that needed to be thinned!) and add a pretty yellow color to the pickles.
Roasting radishes is very popular right now and these radishes have some heft to roast with!
As a grower, I’ve found these radishes fairly typical for the species to grow — they germinate quickly, they drill through the clay soil with few problems, the deer leave them alone and except for a few flea beatle holes, insects don’t bother them.
If I was growing these to eat, I’d be harvesting right and left to make shredded radish sandwiches (shred radishes in the food processor, then bind with mayo, sprinkle with dill and place on crusty bread with your favorite greens), pickles, and of course, the sauerkraut.
However, as part of the Roughwood Seed Collection, we’re growing them for seed. So, they will sit in the field and I’ll continue to take photos of them at the flowering and mature seed stage. If you’re not saving them for seed, you should harvest them when they look like this:
Stay tuned for more photos as the Long Yellow Radish continues its life cycle back to a seed. And if a large summer radish with edible greens as well as a uniquely-colored (and tasty!) root fits your gardening plans, e-mail me for details on how to purchase seed.