August 7, 2015

Lacto-Fermented Radishes (try at your own risk)

Purple Plum radishes with a few Cherry Belles and a turnip or two

I had a good radish harvest this spring. My favorite are Purple Plum radishes. They are good flavored and good keepers. We ate a lot of them in salads and the rest have kept well in the fridge. But I had enough extras that I thought I'd like to try lacto-fermenting some.

My basic lacto-fermentation recipe is simple, although it's evolved somewhat. I use it with cabbageturnips, and Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Vegetable of choice, shredded, chopped, or sliced as preferred
  • Non-chlorinated water (chlorine inhibits the good bacteria needed to ferment)
  • sea salt
  • whey, if available

Pound the prepared vegetable in a crock if you have one. Otherwise wide mouth canning jars will do. The idea is to pound out the natural juices, although I rarely seem to get a lot.


To each quart of water add a quarter cup of whey and one tablespoon of salt. If whey isn't available, increase the salt to two tablespoons. I like using whey because I usually have plenty and we like the flavor of the finished product better.

The contents must be submerged in liquid to prevent mold. I use a small plate weighed down with a half-pint canning jar partially filled with water. Cover with a cotton dishcloth to keep dust and bugs out. Let sit on a counter at room temperature for about three days.

Now, "room temperature" is a bit tricky. There is no strict definition for it, but apparently 72° F (22° C) is a good temperature for fermentation. My kitchen is considerably warmer than that, so I find fermentation is much quicker than the typical three to four days. I know when it's done when it stops bubbling and has a healthy sour smell. At that point it's moved into the fridge and ready to eat!

The radish skins imparted a pretty color.

How did it pass the taste test? With flying colors! However, there was a PROBLEM I've not experienced before. For several days the fridge smelled like, well, I'd describe it as overpoweringly cabbagey, but Dan said it smelled like something had died in there. I cleaned the fridge out twice, scrubbed it down, but it still smelled. I finally figured out it was those radishes that were causing the problem. I've never had cabbage or turnips smell like that! It wasn't spoiled and was tasty, but for some reason those lacto-fermented radishes had an unacceptable odor. I resolved that by putting them in a sealed tupperware container. Problem solved.

Would I recommend this recipe? Well, we enjoyed it tremendously but because of the odor I'll have to advise you to try it at your own olfactory risk!

22 comments:

  1. The radish kimchi we get from the Asian food store smells horrid when opened, but tastes wonderful! My parents get upset every time I open the jar.
    It definitely has something to do with the radishes because the regular kimchi we get doesn't smell like it.
    Kim

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    1. Kim, thank you for that! At least I know it's not something I'm doing! Funny how radishes are like that, LOL.

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  2. see....now i love opening the small garbage bucket that we keep outside of the kitchen door and is where we keep our compost...hubby on the other hand nearly barfs - bahahahah! so any kind of fermented food makes me feel all giggly inside - i know that it's doing it's good fermentation work and i know that i will enjoy it just by the stinky smell! i am going to have to send you some pics of the radish/daikon radish/ turnip thing that we are somehow growing - the thing is nuts! from the looks of it, it is the size of a turnip but has radish flowers - who knows? but i am letting it go to seed to grow more. and i plan on fermenting it once it has gone to seed.

    loving all of your posts as usual! your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, that's so funny. Interesting about the radish/daikon radish/turnip thing you are growing. Is it a homegrown hybrid, do you think? Have you blogged about it?

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    2. Leigh - i do think it is some kind of crazy home-grown hybrid. i will take pics and put them on the blog...i'll let you know when i do!

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  3. ahmmm. It is a pretty pink color :)

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    1. The question is, does color trump smell!

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  4. Like you I am into preserving mode at the moment, with gluts of various veggies and the urge to lay stuff by for winter. This looks fascinating.
    I know this sounds a strange question, but fermenting is pretty rare here in the UK and I wonder how you use the produce. What do you serve it with?
    Gill

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    1. Think pickles. Except fermented foods continue to become more sour as time goes on, although refrigeration helps. Some folks make sauerkraut and then can it when it reaches their preferred soreness, although canning destroys the beneficial bacteria and enzymes.

      Anyway, I serve it as a sidedish to almost everything. We try to eat something lacto-fermented at least once a day.

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  5. I made kimchi this year and oh how it smells. It does taste good though. Sometimes I find cooking brassicas smells really bad too (especially kohlrabi) but I love the taste.

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    1. You know, I've never made kimchi. I have cooked a lot of brassicas and have to agree about the smell! Haven't grown much kohlrabi, but maybe I should give that a try.

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  6. We LOVE radishes (straight out of the garden) and munch-crunch some with nearly every meal when they are in season so one time I added some of them to a lacto-fermented batch of cabbage, onions and a small portion of some other veggies . . . I can't remember exactly what. I had the same result you did (whew-ee!) so now I'm sure it was the radishes that did it. Another strike against the poor maligned radish. (Our daughter has always claimed they taste like dirt!)

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    1. Dan is our radish eater. I have to admit that I'm not all that crazy about them, which is why I thought about fermenting them in the first place. But they do grow well in cool weather! So I eat them. :)

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  7. Thank you for the warning! I had some radishes to ferment - I may reconsider it.

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    1. Susan, it wasn't so bad once I put it in a sealed container. And it was tasty!

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  8. well seeing as hubby HATED living in S Korea due to the smell I can see that this won't work for us. lol He has a super sniffer so usually he has to toss out the garbage a day or two before it even bothers me...so I'm always surprised when I smell it first.

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    1. It's interesting how different places are often associated with particular smells. That says a lot for cultural cuisines! It would be hard to have such a good nose!

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  9. sorry fermented food dosent do it for me just the thought of it makes me feel quiffy :-(

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    1. Dawn, it's funny, but I never cared for pickled foods. Wasn't crazy about pickles, really, until I started making my own sauerkraut. Now I love the stuff, pickles too. Love kefir too, just plain with no sweetening. I could drink a ton of the stuff.

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  10. I love radishes but they are not on offer up here much, so I don't often have them. I never heard of this process but it sounds like it would turn out some good , tasty side dish radishes.

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    1. Dan loves radishes too, so that's why I grow them! They are good keepers in the fridge, though, so fermenting for keeping wasn't necessary; I just like to experiment. And actually, despite the odor, I'd do it again!

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