I know you are probably thinking about a Phil Karlson horror movie like “Ben”, or possibly a foreign countries delicacy that eludes our sensible palate. Both of these images couldn’t be further from the truth. I am referring to the Raphanus caudatus, which literally translates to a radish with a tail like a rat.
Edible podded radish plants look very similar to traditional radish plants except that the flowers are allowed to go to seed and form seed pods, this provides an exceptional looking plant that performs very well in the summer heat, unlike the cool weather varieties that most of Ohio gardeners enjoy. This plant also enjoys the fact that it can be used as an edible landscaping plant, displaying it’s beautiful flowers before producing an abundance of the little seed pods that are shaped like rat tails.
The sprawling plant has rather tall spindly stems growing 2-4 foot tall and up to 2 foot wide. Succession plant every two weeks to enjoy rat tail radishes through the entire summer. Once the plant flowers, the seed pods will start to form. Harvest the seed pods while young to enjoy the tender morsels before they become tough and too hot as some radishes can become.
If you plan to save seeds, do not let rat tail cross pollinate with conventional radish varieties. Use the rat tail radish in salads, eat them fresh from the garden, and use them to stir fry’s, or consider pickling them. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 6 days.
Radish is considered to be an antiseptic, antirheumatic, appetite stimulant, diuretic, diaphoretic and rubefacient. Radish is an excellent source of vitamin C, and a powerful immune booster. It has a long history of medicinal use.
You can also pickle them for later use.
PEAS WITH PROSCUITTO, PORCINI, AND RADISH SNAPS
(Courtesy of the http://foragerchef.com/)
Serves 4 as a side dish
⦁ 2 cups diced fresh porcini (this weighed out to 1lb exactly)
⦁ 2 cups shell peas (frozen peas can be substituted)
⦁ ½ cup sweet yellow onion, diced
⦁ 1 oz. fresh prosciutto, sliced into ½ in ribbons
⦁ 2 tbsp. butter
⦁ ½ cup radish snaps
⦁ Kosher salt and pepper to taste
⦁ 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley (chives or a mix of parsley and tarragon would also be great)
⦁ 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
⦁ Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and cook the radish snaps for 10 seconds. Remove the radish snaps and chill in ice water, then drain and reserve until needed.
⦁ Melt the butter in a sauté pan and add the porcini. Season the porcini with ¼ tsp kosher salt and cook until they’re lightly browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes on medium heat.
⦁ Next add the onions, prosciutto, and another tbsp. of butter if the porcini have soaked up all the fat. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent and no longer raw.
⦁ Add the chicken or vegetable stock and cook until evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Add the peas and radish snaps and heat through, add the parsley. Finally double check the seasoning for salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Whether you like growing heirloom varieties, creating unusual combinations in salads, or adding a little more diversity to your diet, you will enjoy the rat tail radish with it’s unusual bite and texture.