Juicy, crunchy and crisp, locally-grown red radishes add a delightful punchy color and flavour to dishes. Their peppery taste stimulates the production of saliva and rouses the appetite. Fantastic with aperitifs (especially chilled Fino Sherry) when served with butter and salt on the side: wipe a radish across the butter before dipping it in salt.
The origins of the radish are uncertain but they have been eaten in Japan, China and parts of Europe since prehistoric times. Records show they were enjoyed in ancient Egypt and Greece but were not cultivated in Britain until the sixteenth century. Soon afterwards they were introduced to the Americas and are now popular across the globe.
Radishes are taken from the roots of Raphanus sativus, a plant related to horseradish, turnip and mustard. There are many varieties, including the red radish, white radish (daikon or mooli - popular in Japan) and black radish.
Look for plump, firm bulbs and bright green, crisp leaves (if attached).
Remove the tops to prevent nutrients and water being leached into the leaves and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Wipe clean and trim off the stem end and tip. The peppery flavour is most concentrated in the skin and so this can be peeled or cut off if the radishes are too pungent. For added crispness soak in iced water for an hour before use. The tops can be used in salads or cooked like other greens.
In Oaxaca, Mexico, elaborate sculptures carved from giant radishes by growers and artists are displayed each year on December 23rd: 'La Noche de los Rabanos' (The Night of the Radishes).