Crop of the Week: Radish

12950343_212824379089525_1893640757_nHere are ten fun facts about our crop of the week!

1. Radishes were first cultivated thousands of years ago in China, then in Egypt and Greece. Radishes were so highly regarded in Greece that gold replicas were made. The radish did not make its way to England until approximately 1548.  By 1629 they were being cultivated in Massachusetts and later distributed throughout the Americas.

2.  Radishes are known to tolerate many soil and environmental conditions and can reach maturity in as little as 20 days from seed. Radishes that taste hot are due primarily to soils that are either too dry or soil temperature is too hot, above 90°F.

3. Americans eat 400 million pounds of radishes each year, most of which is consumed in salads.

4.  Radish leaves can be added to salads of stir fried vegetables to add a little zest to the flavor.  The leaves are not as spicy as radish roots.

5.  Remove and discard leaves and refrigerate radishes in a plastic bag for up to 5 days. Wash and trim root ends just before using. For added crispness, soak radishes in ice water for a couple of hours.

6.  Radishes have been used to treat coughs, liver problems, and arthritis. The Greeks and Romans were the first cultures to cultivate radishes. Wild ancestors of the radish have been found all over Europe and Asia.

7.  The ancient Greeks thought the radish was “a vulgar article of the diet” because of its “remarkable power of causing flatulence.”

8.  Radishes were a common breakfast item for the Pennsylvania Dutch, and they still are in Japan.

9. The Daikon is a variety of radish also known as Japanese radish, Chinese radish and Satsuma radish. They are white with a milder flavor than the small red radish, and can grow up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds, although they are usually harvested at 1 to 5 pounds.

10.  Radishes are available year round. Choose medium size that are firm, rounded and should be of good color. Larger radishes tend to be pithy. Check for spongy feeling. Do not buy radishes with yellow or decayed tops.

Thanks Kurt Nolte, an area agriculture agent with the Yuma County Cooperative Extension, for these fun facts!

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