Radishes are a particularly varied group. Many vary greatly from the crisp, magenta balls that recall fishing bobbers that we are used to serving on our salad plates, to the Black Spanish radish which represents a particular specialty.
With its inky black skin and pure white flesh, the Black Spanish radish is a unique heirloom variety that has been popular in Europe since the 1500s. It is a winter radish that produces globe-shaped roots around 9cm in diameter. The thick black skin resembles that of a rhinoceros. It is so rough and thick that at first glance the black root seems almost inedible. But that craggy, tough exterior is just what protects the tender, spicy, crisp, pure-white flesh.
Black radishes are sharp when raw and add a nice bite to salads and raw vegetable plates. When sliced paper-thin, they make beautiful garnishes. Scrub these radishes clean in order to keep the brilliant contrast between the black peel and the white interior. Black radishes also good in gratin and are delicious when cut into wedges and added to pans of roasted vegetables.
The Black Spanish Round radish is considered a winter radish but can be planted in both spring and autumn. The thick, tough skin protects months of storage in the ground, in the root cellar or in the fridge. They are reliable, they last forever in the garden and in storage, and are one of the easiest things you will ever grow.
Radishes prefer regular garden soil, especially soil that was heavily manured in a previous season and allowed to rest. Radishes can handle a little shade, especially if the temperatures are creeping up, but they need several hours of direct sun to fully develop.
Sowing: Sow in spring or in autumn.
The Round Black Spanish is generally grown as an autumn radish and left out in the first few frosts in order to mellow its taste. When growing in the autumn, sow 55 days prior to the first anticipated frost date. These lovely gems can also be grown in the early spring, planted 3 to 6 weeks before the last frost.
Make furrows 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) apart and sprinkle seed in sparingly, barely cover with soil and keep evenly moist and cool until germination. The optimal soil temperature is 10 to 18°C (50 to 65°F).
Thin radishes to 10cm (4in) apart. These large size radishes need a bit more room to grow than other types.
If you want good-tasting radishes also pay close attention to the watering regimen you provide. Moisture stress can result in the same woody, hot radishes that poor soil conditioning and lack of fertiliser or humus will result in.
Harvesting: 55 to 60 days to maturity.
Black radishes can be very hot, due to high glucosinolate content, more or less the same stuff that makes horseradish and wasabi hot when consumed fresh, but the taste will mellow significantly if left in the ground or in storage. If harvesting before frost, dig the radishes and put in the vegetable drawer of your fridge for a week or two, or store in damp sand in the fridge or in a root cellar, which will substantially increase the storage life, providing fresh treats out of season. In dry weather the bed should be watered the day before they are pulled.
Save the young thinnings of both summer and winter radishes. They are delicious with tops and bottoms intact. Both summer and winter radishes store well in the refrigerator once the tops have been removed. The radish leaves cause moisture and nutrient loss during storage.
Store greens separately for 2 to 3 days. Refrigerate radishes wrapped in plastic bags for 5 to 7 days. Store roots in dry sand, soil, or peat for winter use.
Black radishes are sharp when raw and add a nice bite to salads and raw vegetable plates. When sliced paper-thin, they make beautiful garnishes. Scrub these radishes clean in order to keep the brilliant contrast between the black peel and the white interior.
In terms of flavour, black radish is stronger and more pungent than its white counterpart. But that hot spiciness is just one reason why black radish makes an ideal food for cold winter days. Black radishes are good in gratin and are delicious when cut into wedges and added to pans of roasted vegetables.
They can be used as a spicy turnip substitute in beef stew, roasted root veggie bakes etc.
In China and Europe, black radish root has been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years as a gallbladder tonic and as a natural remedy for impaired bile function and digestive problems. In India, black radish is a popular liver tonic.
The radish is an anciently annual or biennial cultivated vegetable. It most likely originated in the area between the Mediterranean and the Caspian Sea. It may come from the wild radish in southwest China. It is possible that radishes were domesticated in both Asia and Europe.
The early domestication of radishes can be traced back to around about 4000 years ago. According to Herodotus (484-424 BC), radish was one of the important crops in ancient Egypt, as radish was depicted on the walls of the Pyramids. Cultivated radish and its uses were reported in China nearly 2000 years ago and in Japan, radishes were known some 1000 years ago.
Evolutionary processes and human selection of preferred types have led to significant variations in size, colour and taste. Among them, small-rooted radishes are grown in temperate regions of the world and harvested throughout the year. Larger-rooted cultivars such as Chinese radish are predominant in East and Southeast Asia.
Today, radishes are an important vegetable that is grown throughout the world. Different local people prefer to use various parts of the radish plants including roots, leaves, sprouts, seed pods and oil from seeds as their food according to their own custom.
The small-rooted and short-season types are cultivated for salads and as fresh vegetable. The large-rooted types are cooked, canned or pickled besides being eaten raw. The leaves and sprouts are used as salad or are cooked, too. The seed pods are cooked for soups in southwest China and Southeast Asia, the seeds are also pressed to extract oil.
The genus name raphanus, from the Latin raphanus (also raphanos meaning ‘radish’), derives from Ancient Greek ῥάφανος (raphanos), ῥαφανίς (raphanis). See also rháphys or rhápys meaning ‘turnip’.
The species name sativus is taken from the Latin sativus meaning 'sown’ or 'that which is sown' meaning cultivated. It is found in the binomial names of many domesticated plant species - sativus (masculine), sativum (neuter), or sativa (feminine).
The common name of Radish comes from the Latin word radix which means 'root'.
The Black Spanish radish can be either round or elongated in shape. The round-shaped variety is sometimes called 'Noir Gros de Paris' or 'Nero Tondo', while the elongated variety may be called 'Black Spanish Long' or 'Black Mooli'.
It dates in Europe to 1548, and was a common garden variety in England and France during the early 19th century.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 5 grams Average Seed Count 500 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 100 seeds per gram Common Name Winter Radish.
Heritage variety (Europe 1558)
Family Brassicaceae Genus Raphanus Species sativus L. var. niger Cultivar Black Spanish Round Synonym Noir Gros de Paris, Nero Tondo D'inveno Hardiness Hardy Biennial Time to Sow Sow indoors from late winter or sow directly from late spring through to early autumn Harvest 55 days