Radishes are one of the fastest and easiest vegetables you can grow in your garden. You can also purchase them inexpensively from the grocery store. If you ever end up with more radishes than you know what to do with, fermenting radishes is a great way to go. Or, perhaps like me, you purchased some radishes just so you can ferment them!
Fermenting is a great way to prolong the life of radishes so that you can enjoy them at your leisure.
Fermented radishes are packed with healthy probiotics. They also have a milder taste than fresh radishes.
Step-by-Step Guide to Fermenting Radishes
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Without further ado, let’s get into the step-by-step process of fermenting radishes.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients and Tools Needed for Fermenting Radishes
The first step in fermenting radishes is to gather all the ingredients and tools you need. Thankfully, the list is short!
- 1 1/2 pounds radishes
- 2 cups distilled water (If you don’t have distilled water, read step 2 for tips)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pickling salt or 1 3/4 tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 1-quart jar that has been washed in hot soapy water
- Weight or pickle helix
- Fermenting lid
Pro tip: I recommend this stainless-steel fermenting kit that I purchased from True Leaf Market. You’ll see some photos of it later in this article, since it’s what I use when fermenting radishes that I present to you here.
Step 2: Make the Brine
The brine that I use when fermenting radishes has two simple ingredients: water and salt. Technically, when fermenting, it’s best to use distilled water.
I never seem to have any distilled water, and thankfully, there’s a workaround. According to the book, DIY Pickling, (available on Amazon), here’s what to do if you don’t have distilled water:
If your water tastes good and doesn’t have a lot of chlorine, you can most likely use it. If you have hard water, you can boil the water, and then let it sit for 24 hours. Skim water from the top, so that you don’t pick up any of the mineral deposits that are left on the bottom of the pot.
If you don’t have hard water, but your water is chlorinated, boil it for two minutes before using. Thankfully, the boiling for 2-minutes method works for me.
Regardless of whether you use distilled water or tap water that you’ve boiled, the next step is adding in salt. Stir the salt in, until it dissolves.
In spite of the water still being somewhat hot from boiling, I had a hard time getting the salt to dissolve. I first tried a whisk, and when that didn’t work, I used a spoon. That didn’t work either.
If you have the same problem, I recommend heating the water and salt together until the salt dissolves. This only took a minute.
I didn’t want to pour boiling water on the radishes, so I allowed the water to cool while I did the rest of the preparation.
Step 3: Remove Radish Tops
The next step in fermenting radishes is to remove the tops.
Pro tip: In case you don’t know, radish greens are actually edible! You can either sauté them in a bit of butter or olive oil or pickle them. You can even dehydrate them and make green powder out of them. The latter is what I planned to do, but unfortunately, they weren’t in that great of condition, so I just added them to my compost.
Step 4: Give the Radishes a Good Rinse
Radishes have a ton of dirt on the leaves. When you look at the above left photo, you would never guess that I actually washed the radishes before removing the tops. Since I didn’t want any dirt in my fermented radishes, I gave them another good rinsing before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Cut off the Root End and Slice the Radishes
Next, I cut off the root end and then sliced the radishes into “coins” that were between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick.
After discarding the greens and removing the root end of the radishes, I ended up with a bit more than a pound and a half of sliced radishes.
Step 6: Tightly Pack Radishes into a 1-Quart Jar
Next, tightly pack the radishes into a quart-sized jar. I just put the radishes in a helter-skelter manner and ended up with a very full jar. In fact, I ended up with a handful of radish slices that I put aside to serve with our lunch.
It’s up to you whether or not you want to take time to pack them neatly. But do fit in as many radishes as you can. Just make sure to leave enough room for a weight or pickle helix. You’ll see what I mean by that in step 8. 🙂
Step 7: Fill Jar with Brine
After you’ve packed the radishes into the jar, the next step in fermenting radishes is to add the brine. You can see that I used a canning funnel to help me pour in the brine without making a mess.
Pro tip: Even if you don’t do any canning, it’s worth picking up a canning funnel. I use mine every time I need to fill mason jars for any reason. You can pick up a canning funnel inexpensively here, on Amazon.
Step 8: Add Weight and Lid
The next thing you need to do is to apply a weight or pickle helix. The reason for this is that it’s important for the radishes to stay under the brine the entire time they are being fermented.
You can purchase a weight such as these on Amazon, but I prefer using a pickle helix, as pictured above. I purchased this stainless-steel fermenting kit from True Leaf Market.
You’ll also need to put a lid on. The lid that I used comes with the fermenting kit. It’s made from medical grade stainless steel, so it won’t corrode. It also has a valve on the top that keeps oxygen out but lets the gases escape that develop during the fermentation process.
If you use a regular lid, don’t screw it on too tightly, or too much pressure will build up during the fermentation process. With a regular lid, you also need to “burp” the jars daily.
Step 9: Allow to Ferment
The final step in the process of fermenting radishes is to let the fermentation process happen. You can put the jar in a dark corner in your kitchen. In my case, I don’t have a dark corner in my kitchen, so I put the jar in a cabinet.
Note that I put it on a tray, just in case anything bubbles over. Having said that, this is a precaution more than anything, because I don’t typically have that problem due to the type of lids that I use.
Check the fermenting radishes after five days. If the taste is to your liking at this point, remove the weight or pickle helix, put a lid on the jar, and put the jar in the fridge.
If you want a stronger taste, you can allow the radishes to ferment at room temperature for up to 10 days.
Fermented radishes will keep in the fridge for about a month.
Preparing Yourself for “Radish Stink”
As radishes ferment, the brine turns a beautiful pink color. Radishes are one of the prettiest ferments out there.
Unfortunately, there is an unpleasant truth about fermenting radishes that many people fail to tell you. They stink. I mean, fermented radishes seriously stink!
Fermented radishes look beautiful.
They taste great.
But they smell awful.
I still think fermenting radishes is worthwhile, but it’s important to know going into it that they do have an unpleasant smell.
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Recommended Resources for Pickling and Fermenting
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you strive to stock your pantry with delicious pickled and fermented food! Here are some tools that I use that I’m hoping you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. Please know that these are the tools that I actually use and recommend and believe in 100%!
DIY Pickling: Step-By-Step Recipes for Fermented, Fresh, and Quick Pickles (on Amazon). This is the first pickling and fermenting book that I purchased. I love that it has great photos and very clear instructions. If you want to learn about both quick pickles AND ferments in a single book, this is the one I recommend.
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (on Amazon). One of my good friends grew up on a farm and has been fermenting food since he was a young boy. This is the one book that he says is an absolute must if you want to learn how to ferment food.
Stainless Steel Fermenting Kits (on True Leaf Market) I love using stainless steel products because they stand the test of time. Though they are a bit more expensive than other options, in the long run they save money because they last pretty much forever. I also love products that work with mason jars, and these certainly fit the bill.
Fermenting and Pickling Kits (on Cultures for Health) are the best way to start with fermenting if you want everything you need to (except the food!) to start fermenting. If you’re hit with the intimidation factor when it comes to pickling or fermenting, consider starting with a kit.