Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fun with Pickles: Watermelon Radish, Daikon, Cabbage

A salad of kim chi and pickled watermelon radishes.
I've been feeling adventurous lately and have been experiencing with refrigerator pickles. It all started with watermelon radishes in our CSA box. I didn't know what they were or what to do with them so I looked online and found various food blogs suggesting they be pickled. We've also had an abundance of Napa cabbage and daikon. Growing weary of stir fry and soups, I decided to try making my own kim chi, a spicy version of pickled and fermented cabbage. The kim chi didn't meet my expectations, but the watermelon radish pickles, on the other hand, were the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Mixed together (top picture), they made for a tasty salad.

Green on the outside with a bright purple-pink starburst center, watermelon radishes have beautiful color that intensifies when pickled, making for a striking snack. Refrigerator pickle recipes suggest a wait time of 24 hours to 2 weeks for maximum flavor. After three tries, I can tell you that shorter soaking times net a milder pickle. So if you want a pickle that bites you back, wait at least three or four days before trying yours. If you don't, then start snacking the day after preparing them.

Watermelon Radish Pickles

Radishes in brine.

  • 3 large watermelon radishes (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


  • Peel the radishes and cut into disks or sticks (or a combo of the two) about a quarter-inch thick.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the rice vinegar, salt and sugar until dissolved.
  • Fill pint-size jars (or resealable plastic bags) with the radishes. Pour the liquid over the radishes, cover with lids and shake to ensure even mixing.
  • Refrigerate at least 24 hours before enjoying. The pickles will last about a month in the fridge.
  • Variations: Combine the radishes with green or sweet onions for variety; add a dash of crushed red pepper for a little kick.

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