Cooking Fresh Winter 2011 Issue

I ♥ Beauty Heart Radishes

By Dani Lind | Photo By Jim Klousia 2

Through many a cold season have I fervently extolled the virtues of locally grown winter radishes to customers at my food co-op in Viroqua, cajoling them into trying one of these big strange looking vegetables when what they came in for was a bunch of little red radishes from California. The trouble was, I wasn’t very convincing; sales pitches that start with, “I don’t really like them personally, but let me tell you, these are really great!” rarely work. Radishes were just too pungent and bitter for my palate. The co-op has always carried several varieties of these storage radishes through the winter, but the most popular one is always the “beauty heart” radish. And bless my heart, beauty hearts finally won me over. Now I can truly say I am a radish lover.

Before I go any further, you should know that there are two different kinds of radishes: spring and winter ones. Beauty hearts and the more commonly found long, white daikon belong to the winter type. Small bunching radishes like the ubiquitous red “cherry belle” or the more prized oblong, white and red “French breakfast” are spring varieties. They are quick to mature, have fairly thin skins and are best eaten within a week of harvest. Winter radishes are bigger, take much longer to mature, are usually harvested in the fall and can be stored far into the winter. Unlike spring radishes, winter ones are eaten pickled or cooked as often as they are eaten raw.

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