About Radish Pods

March 20, 2008

About Radish Pods

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The podding radish (Raphanus caudatus), or rattail radish as it is often referred to in the U.S., is a type of radish known for its edible seed pods rather than for its roots. The botanical name, Raphanus caudatus, literally means “radish with a tail,” describing the 3- to 12-inch tapered green or purple seed. It originates from the East Asia but has been around in our country since the mid 1800s.  It has however remained little know and is typically grown more as a garden curiosity than as a food crop.

The podding radish and its close relative the “regular” radish have had a long relationship with man. China is believed to be the country of origin, since truly wild forms have been found there. Middle Asia and India appear to be secondary centers where many different forms developed after the plant was introduced from China in prehistoric times. Third-century B.C. Greeks wrote of their radishes, and by 100 A.D. Roman writers described small and large types, mild and biting varieties, and round and long forms. A German botanist in 1544 reported radishes of 100 pounds. Radishes appear to be one of the first European crops introduced into the Americas, closely behind the arrival of Columbus. Podding radishes have no thickened root (radish).

The pods look like green beans and can be green, purple or both. They don’t need to be shelled, although if they are more mature and seem a little fibrous you should cut their thin extremities. The pods are soft but crisp and they can be eaten raw or cooked. When you bite into a raw pod you know you are eating a radish, yet the flavor is more delicate and refined. When cooked they lose pungency. You can chop the raw pods, or leave them whole, to use fresh in salads, or add them to a crudité platter, or just surround a bowl of dip with them at a summer gathering – because they are unusual, they are sure to arouse the curiosity of your guests. They may also be pickled in vinegar. They are superb in stir-fries, holding their texture well.

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