Wednesday, 2 July 2008
French Breakfast Radishes
Radishes are one of the first vegetables to appear in the late spring to early summer, since they mature in three weeks to a month from planting. These ones are the very popular and recognizable French Breakfast radish; long and narrow with red shoulders fading to white bottoms. Why they are called French Breakfast I cannot say, and it doesn't seem like anyone else can either, although the suggestion is that if anyone ate them for breakfast, it was the Pennsylvania Dutch. These are an heirloom variety, available for well over a hundred years, but still very widely available.
At any rate, these are a nice, moderate radish, with a good crunch and a spicy but not overwhelming bite, although like all radishes as much will depend on the weather as the variety. Radishes do well with cool to warm springlike temperatures, and if grown during very hot weather are likely to end up woody or spongy in texture and harsh in flavour. This has been an excellent spring for radishes.
Pick radishes that are small to medium in size; large ones may be overmature and suffer from the problems listed above. They will keep very well if separated from the green tops, and kept dry in a plastic bag. The greens are edible too (see some of my radish recipes) but will not keep fresh for more than a day or so.
A very popular way to eat radishes is on bread with butter, plain or herbed, and topped with slices of radish and a sprinkle of sea salt. Lovely and simple; like all such simple things it requires that each ingredient be of the best and freshest.