Mother Earth News Blogs > Real Food

Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.


How to Pickle Radishes (With Recipe Variations)

Pickled Radish Ingredients

Radishes are among the very first non-leafy greens available in the spring. I love radishes prepared any way: cooked in stir fry, eaten raw, or pickled. I look forward to pickled spring radishes all year.

While winter and summer are predictable in Vermont, spring is always a surprise. This year, spring came on the tails of a very cold, snowy and long winter. It warmed up quickly and was very dry. I decided to plant seeds just as the snow finally melted away on April 17. It was a calculated risk; our actual last frost date in Vermont is not until June. After a few close calls with overnight frost warnings, the radishes were ready to pick by late May.

I love to grow radishes, especially a variety called ‘French Breakfast’ radishes. They are oblong, red to pink with a white tip. The best part is that they are 28 days from seed to picking.

Some people do not like radishes because they have kind of a mushroom flavor—generally, the older the radish, the more mushroomy the flavor. Some people also find radishes too spicy. This is another good reason to pickle, because the flavor of the radish becomes mellowed and complemented by the vinegar, salt, and spices.

While radish pickles can be canned, I find them more delicious as refrigerator pickles. They can last up to 2 months (but trust me, you’ll eat them long before that time). I create all kinds of variations: Asian-style for use in ramen, sweet, spicy, citrus, and more.

The key to delicious pickles is the pickle juice. There are many ways to make great pickle juice, but it needs to have a strong vinegar taste and be salty enough to keep the pickles from rotting.

Important Notes for Pickling Radish

Container matters. While refrigerator pickles do not need special crocks, they need to pickled in a non-porous container—ceramic or glass work, but definitely not plastic. I use mason jars or ceramic bowls with plastic wrap.

Smell. Radish pickles can give off a strong odor that not everyone likes (especially if other things in the fridge take on the smell). So, if that is an issue, make sure you make them in something airtight like a mason jar.

Pickle juice amounts. All these recipes call for vinegar to cover—so the amount will be different depending on the container you are using. Generally, mason jars will require more vinegar than what would be needed in a bowl that is more flat. It is important to make sure that liquid is completely covering the pickles.

Standard Radish-Pickling Recipe

Ingredients for Pickling Radishes

• 4-6 radishes cut into rounds
• 1 tablespoon pickling spices (I put these in a tea infuser)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
• White vinegar to cover

Asian-Style Pickled Radishes

• 4-6 Radishes cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon grated Ginger (a good trick to always have ginger is to leave an antler in the freezer and then grate it on demand with a microplane or small side of a box grater. I use it skin and all. It lasts a long time and taste the same in cooking as fresh.)
• Rice wine vinegar to cover

Citrus Pickled Radishes

• 4-6 Radishes cut into small cubes
• 1/2 teaspoon citrus zest (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit or any that you love)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• White vinegar to cover

Directions: Put all the ingredients together in your container. Mix well and put it in the refrigerator. It will take 2-3 days for these to turn into pickles. Stir everyday while waiting for the flavor to develop. Feel free to taste along the way - when you like the flavor, they are ready to eat.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.