Rachel's Table

Happy CSA Day! {Week 4}

Friends of mine tell me stories of their mothers and grandmothers slaving away, over large pots, waiting for the “POP” of a Ball jar lid, the summer heat no match for the steam of a kitchen in full canning mode.

I have no such stories. While I’m sure both my grandmothers canned food in their lifetime, I never learned the art.

I have, however, had the pleasure of eating many canned goods provided by generous friends and friends’ grandmothers. My favorite canned good is the pickled beet. I could eat them all day, on salads or as a snack and often make vinaigrette with the bright pink pickling liquid.

While I didn’t receive any beets in my CSA box from Lancaster Farm Fresh last week, a trio of root vegetables greeted me–carrots, turnips, and black radishes. The carrots and turnips are easy to use, but black radishes? I’ve never had them, and I’m more familiar with the pretty reddish-pink variety I grew in my garden last year. These black radishes looked like beasts in comparison. I was at a loss for what to do with them, but then those pickled beets came to mind.

The radishes in question, about three times the size of spring radishes

The radishes in question, about three times the size of spring radishes

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at food preservation for a while now, so I decided to make quick pickled black radishes. While I didn’t slave away in the kitchen over hot pots waiting for that “POP” of the Ball jar, I did take the time to pack them tightly with vinegar and spices. And they’ll keep in the fridge for a month.

I would say that my first attempt at one form of food preservation was a success, giving me a confidence boost for when I can summer tomatoes for the first time.  I can’t wait to try these picked black radishes on my Asian Short Rib Tacos or on this Vietnamese sandwich. They are earthy, spicy, and pickled to perfection.

Pickled Black Radishes

5 black radishes, sliced thickly

1 small yellow onion, sliced (also from my CSA)

1 cup water

1 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt plus a bit more

3 teaspoons (local) honey

1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 dried chile pepper, cut in half lengthwise (my chile was from Peppermeister, my pepper hero. If you want to trade seeds with him or receive some of his extra special seeds in the mail, check out this post.)

After slicing the radishes, place them in a colander and salt them with a little kosher salt.

Thickly sliced and ready for the pickle jar

Thickly sliced and ready for the pickle jar

I used my mortar and pestle, a gift from a thoughtful friend,  to crush the peppercorns

I used my mortar and pestle, a gift from a thoughtful friend, to crush the peppercorns

In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and honey to a boil, until salt and honey are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the crushed peppercorns, garlic, and chile.

Pickling Liquid

Pickling Liquid

Pack the sliced radishes and onion in a clean quart-sized jar, and pour the hot liquid over them, making sure to pack the garlic, chile, and all those crushed peppercorns into the jar, too. Cover and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Eat within a month.

Pretty as a picture

Pretty as a picture

What’s your favorite canned good or pickled item? Have you ever pickled/canned summer produce? Any tips for me?


  1. Hello Rachel,
    I am sure pickling the black radishes must be wonderful. Have you tried them raw? I don’t know whether you have the same variety as we have, but I have been getting black radishes from the farm all winter, and they are very, very, very sharp.
    People say you can use them instead of turnips in soups, and they lose their sharpness, which I think is a pity. I prefer them raw. I usually grate them and add them to salads (see my “Celery root remoulade” on the blog), or slice them very thin and dip them in soy sauce. Or slice them very thin and spread some black olive tapenade on top (delicious). You can also grate them and make a “sauerkraut” with them, but I haven’t tried that yet. I am glad I can add pickles to my list of “oh my, I have no idea how to use up all those black radishes”. Thank you!

    • I enjoy them raw too! On salads and tacos (I love cabbage on my tacos, and black radishes have a similar bite). I am pleased to say that the pickled radishes are still crisp and sharp.

      I’m going to try them in soy sauce. Sounds divine!

    • I love a good hot pepper in winter cooking. I have some dried ones I’m cherishing until I can grow my own in the garden.

      Thanks for the recipe! I’ll be using it this summer. 🙂

    • I’m excited to try to can a bit this summer. I’ll have help though! I equate it with hard work since I saw my ex-husband’s grandmother work feverishly in the kitchen in the middle of August. She would can her little heart out with great results! I loved her canned green beans.

  2. Oooh cool.

    Forgive me, I just sat here for 3 minutes trying to figure out how to make a joke about ‘canned’ laughter, and it’s not happening. I’m sorry. Or I should probably say: You’re welcome.

    Peppermeister’s pickled peppers (say that 5 times fast) are ‘da bomb, though! I hate beets, but I might actually try a pickled one.

    • Now I have to go searching his blog for the pickled peppers recipe. I’m in love with anything pickled now. It’s easy and makes me feel like a domestic goddess (said like Nigella Lawson).

      Your jokes are always welcome here, Jules. ALWAYS.

  3. My grandmother used to can fruits and veggies from her garden. As a child I was fascinated by all the colourful jars that lined the massive shelves in the basement of her house in Pennsylvania. I don’t remember everything she grew, but I do recall tomatoes, garden peas, rhubarb, strawberries (or raspberries?), pickles, various bell peppers, and relishes that she’d put together. I don’t know anything about canning, but I will learn once we have a house with a garden.

    • My mom just told me after reading this post that she used to can with her mom and hated it!

      I plan to try this summer. But I’ll start small–tomatoes only. I froze a few things in late summer and that wines pretty well too.

    • I know the feeling. My CSA last summer was not great. I got more produce and more variety from my friend John who has a big garden in his backyard. My CSA farmer was only in his second year farming that particular plot of land, but I expected more from him than lots and lots of okra and some tomatoes.

      You should try another one! This winter CSA is a conglomeration of over 80 organic farmers and I couldn’t be happier with the quality and variety I’m getting.

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