Market Research: Winter Radishes
Radishes are one of the first vegetables to appear each spring, but come fall, you’ll still find several varieties that offer dramatic size and color. The autumnal varieties don’t have the spongy interior pockets, known as pithing, that plague common table radishes when they grow large.
Where to Buy: I found watermelon radishes (white exterior, pink interior), also known as beauty heart radishes, from Anchor Nursery (Dupont and Penn Quarter markets) and Tree and Leaf Farm (Falls Church and Dupont markets). Tree and Leaf also has green and white Luobo radishes and black radishes, one of the oldest varieties still cultivated. All farms expect to have the vegetables in stock through the winter.
How to Buy: Look for firm, unblemished roots. Unlike smaller table radishes, winter radishes’ greens are often removed before sale because of their size.
How to Store: Radishes will keep well for several weeks refrigerated in a plastic bag. If they soften, soak them in cool water to firm them up.
How to Cook: Large radishes tend to be spicier at the top of the root, and sweeter at the tip. As with all root vegetables, give radishes a thorough scrubbing and peel if the skin is tough or thick. Zach Lester of Tree and Leaf suggests adding grated, salted, and drained black radishes to steamed potatoes and dressing the dish with a mild vinegar and olive oil. I also sautéed thinly sliced watermelon radishes in butter until tender, stirring to avoid browning.
Photo by Phoebe Connelly