Radishes were one of the first domesticated vegetables; the Egyptians and Babylonians ate them as far back as 4000 years ago. There are several commonly available varieties of radish, including the red radish (most common in North America), the black radish, and the milder daikon (a longer white radish also referred to as lobok). Radishes are small, but they are loaded with nutrients. These crisp, crunchy root vegetables deliver vitamin C and vitamin B6, which are important for the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. They contain good amounts of folate, calcium and vitamin K, which are important for preserving strong bones. Radishes are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. All of these nutritional benefits make radishes an excellent veggie to help maintain one’s overall good health, Radishes are usually available tied up in bunches with their fresh green leaves intact. There are also topped radishes that are sold in plastic bags. When purchasing bunches of fresh radishes with their leaves attached, look for bunches that look fresh and crisp, and have deep green leaves. The roots should be hard and have a smooth, unblemished skin. Be sure to check bagged radishes for mold before purchasing. If you are purchasing radishes with their leaves attached, remove the tops unless you are serving them the same day. If your radishes are not already packaged, put them in plastic bags and store them in the refrigerator. Most varieties will keep up to a week in the refrigerator. Black radishes can be stored for up to two weeks if you keep them dry and store them in plastic bags with holes in them.
With a clean cloth or veggie scrub brush, clean the radishes in cold water and trim the stems and ends off. Radishes can be peeled, but leaving their skin on is more nutritious and the skin is what gives the radish its pungent flavour. Red radishes can be served whole or chopped. Black radishes and daikon radishes are usually sliced, chopped or grated. Radishes are commonly used as garnishes or tossed into salads. Try grating red radishes and use this grated veggie as a sandwich topping or tossed into a bean salad. Add red radishes to veggie trays or platters with some herbed dip for an added burst of colour. If you are feeling adventurous, grate half cup of white radish into your soup.