The radish is a variety of herbaceous plant and member of the mustard family. The radish root is also related to kale, broccoli, cauliflower and horseradish. Radishes prefer a cooler climate and will grow quickly providing the conditions (fertile soil, sunlight and moisture) are adequate. The name radish comes from the Latin word “radix”. Traditionally radishes were eaten to stimulate the appetite and prepare the palate for the upcoming meal. Radishes were usually served with salt for dipping, sometimes with butter and brown bread. Radishes have a mild to hot peppery flavour with a crunchy texture. They can be eaten raw or pickled, boiled and even fried. Although less commonly used the fresh leaves can also be eaten. The seeds are also used as a spice.
History of the Radish.
Radishes were cultivated first in China. There are early records showing that radishes were enjoyed in Ancient Greece and before the construction of the Pyramids in Egypt. During the construction of the Pyramids the workers were paid in radishes. The Ancient Greeks served their radishes with vinegar and honey and made gold replicas which they offered to the god Apollo. Records show that the radish reached England during the mid 16th century.
Varieties of Radish.
There are many different radish varieties, these can be split into four types, according to the season they are grown. They also grow in a range shapes, lengths and colours. Some of the varieties are listed below:
White Icicle – A pungent white variety that grows between 5 and 8 inches in length.
Sparkler – Bright red and round with a white tip and white on the inside.
Cherry Belle – One of the most common varieties, a round red radish usually sold in supermarkets.
White Beauty – Sweet and juicy small round white variety.
French Breakfast – Mild and crunchy, eaten raw or cooked.
Daikon Long White – Also known as mooli, these are large radishes that can grow to 18 inches.
Sakurajima Mammoth – This is thought to be the word’s largest variety, once mature it can weigh up to 100 pounds.
Green Meat – The outer skin of the green meat radish is spicy but the flesh is mild..
Easter Egg – An interesting variety, which can be pink, red or purple.
Watermelon – This variety has white skin and reddish-purple flesh. Will grow to the size of a baseball and looks like a small watermelon
Black Spanish – This round radish displays coal black skin and pure white flesh. White Globe Hailstone – Pure white inside and out; flavor is mildly spicy.
Health Benefits of the Radish.
Radishes have many health benefits and have traditionally been used as a mouth or breath freshener, laxative and a regulator for the metabolism. Radish can help to improve blood circulation and can be used to treat headaches, constipation, nausea,obesity, sore throats, whooping cough and gall stones.
The radish is very low in calories, with only 16 calories per 100g. They are a great source of antioxidants, electrolytes, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber. They are a good source of vitamin C and contain vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamin and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and calcium.
Night of the Radishes.
The city of Oaxaca, Mexico is home to the annual Night of the Radishes (Noche de Rábanos) every December 23rd. This event is dedicated to the carving of large radishes. It dates back to the colonial period when radishes were first introduced by the Spanish. Farmers began carving radishes to attract customers during the Christmas Market. The city made the competition formal in 1897, since then the popularity of this event has grown and annually attracts more than 100 competitors and thousands of visitors. Due to the nature of the radish the finished carvings only last a matter of hours.