make your own pickled radishes.

May 4, 2016

make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

I’m not ashamed to admit that there are foods I eat mostly because they’re pretty. This time of year, those foods are called radishes. Red radishes, watermelon radishes, Easter egg radishes in shades of pastel; they all get my heart eyes. I’ve taken about a million photographs of them to prove my to point to you with this post. (Please enjoy.)

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the peppery bite of a springtime radish. (Give me a bit of salty butter and a drizzle of honey to complement it and layer the whole deal onto a slice of fresh bread and I’ll be very happy.) But I appreciate the stark white flesh and bright red skin of a radish even more than the taste. A few thinly sliced radishes on top of a bed of arugula or pea shoots? A taco with a radish confetti dotting the top? A cheese plate with a freshly washed bunch of radishes perched on the edge? Radishes in dainty tea sandwiches? So dang pretty.make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

But here’s the problem: I have a tendency to let a half-bunch of radishes languish in the fridge. I get gung-ho about how beautiful my weekend salad looks with radishes strewn on top, but before I know it it’s midweek and we’re rushing to get anything on the table. No one’s concerned about garnishes.

But a jar of pickled radishes? Now we’ve taken the pretty factor, upped the taste factor, and prolonged the shelf life a bit and it’s a whole new ballgame. For me, the addition of vinegar and spices + heat + time takes the radish from being pleasant enough to straight-up addictive.  make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

Radishes, washed.
make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

Radishes, sliced.make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

More radishes, sliced.
make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

Vinegar and spices, ready to boil. make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

Vinegar, ready to pour.
make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

Like most quick pickles, the process is simple. No need to devote an afternoon to canning in the kitchen. You can pickle these babies in a few minutes and have them stealing the show by dinnertime. This recipe is a variation on just about every quick pickle recipe out there. Specifically, I consulted the Sunday Suppers’ pickled red onion recipe for vinegar ratio encouragement and then adjusted the seasonings to taste.

make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

Pickled Radishes

Here’s what you need:

A bunch of radishes (any sort’ll do)
1.5 cups white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (or honey!)
Spices (I used fennel, coriander, and black pepper)

Here’s what to do:

1. Scrub your radishes and thinly slice them into even rounds. If you’re very fancy and have a mandoline, now is the time to put her to use. Otherwise, flex your knife skills and don’t worry too much if some slices are a little wonky. (Some folks like a thick radish pickle and choose to quarter their little gem babies. I prefer a nice round slice.)

2. In a small non-reactive saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar (or honey), salt, and  your choice of spices to a boil. For spices, I used fennel, coriander, and black pepper—just a little pinch or so of each for a small jar. Experiment! Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove the vinegar from the heat.

3. While the vinegar cools, pack a clean jar with sliced radishes. If you want to add a fresh pepper to the jar for some heat, a few springs of dill, or a clove or four of garlic, now’s your chance.

4. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture (spices included) over your radishes. Seal up the jar and pop ‘er in the fridge. Ideally, let the mixture gel for a day to really infuse those radishes with some tangy goodness. But don’t fret if you’re in a rush. The other night I put together a jar (didn’t even bother heating the vinegar, hey!) in the 15 minutes before dinner was served and the results were still super satisfying. The radishes should stay fresh in the fridge for a few weeks.

Note: Radishes are pungent little guys. The odor when you open your jar will smack you a little hard in the nose, but power through and taste those babies. So good. Also! Your pickles will turn totally pink as they sit in the brine. Pink!

For the curious: my little enamelware pot.make your own pickled radishes | reading my tea leaves

Now your turn: favorite pretty thing to eat?

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  • Reply Oana May 4, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Hi Erin,
    my grandmother used to pickle everything!!! I never did it myself, since so many childhood memories indicate that this is a grandmother only endeavor, but you give me hope!
    I will try my hand at this and will let you know 🙂

  • Reply Rita Tocta May 4, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I wish I’ve seen this recipe two weeks ago! We’ve recently discover a great bio producer at the market and all the produce we bought is eaten but we (too) got a little bit carried away with the radishes (we love them but yes they can end up being forgotten!). I don’t forget this one! The only things I (kind of) pickle are shallots and a red vegetable I don’t recall the name in English (they look like huge pepper ans exist in yellow, green and red). The shallots I make a kind of pickled chutney (ume vinegar, sugar, honey, mostard seeds), the last one is a little bit like the recipe you shared.
    One of my favorito things are cabbages. They are so so beautiful my heart, eyes and soul love them! Their leaves are gorgeous to serve a cheese plate. I didn’t like the taste before, now I can eat cabage everyday 🙂 again, Ume vinegar which is one of the most tasty (and super healthy!) staples in my kitchen!
    Ps- loved the radishes pictures :))!

  • Reply Sadie T May 4, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Can’t wait to experiment with a spicy mix!
    Beets are hand down my favorite pretty food. That rich purple that smears a hot pink across my cutting board (and all over my hands and house inevitably) leaves me overjoyed before they ever hit a plate.

  • Reply Erin May 4, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Oh yum! I never thought to do this but will certainly try (that is if my radishes survive this never ending rain we’ve been having on the east coast – come on SUN!).

    I do love pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions in this fashion – a South Jersey staple in the summer time.

  • Reply Jessie May 4, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Something about pickled veggies are just so pretty! Radishes aren’t my thing, but I pickled some red onions for the first time a couple months ago and they were SO.GOOD. I put them on top of everything, eggs especially. I’m a big fan of sauerkraut so I want to try that next. A friend of mine makes killer kim chi and she’s attempting apple cider vinegar.

  • Reply Erin S May 4, 2016 at 10:18 am

    I love saving the spindly fennel greens for garnish!

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 4, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Me too! So pretty!

  • Reply Allyson May 4, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Oh, I just posted pickled radishes on my blog. They’re great on top of a slice of baguette smeared with avocado. As for favorite pretty thing to eat, I love micro veggies and micro herbs. I rarely buy them because they’re so pricey, but they’re also so precious and completely adorable.

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 4, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Agreed! Radish sprouts??? CUTEST!

  • Reply Roopali May 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Yum! I will try this recipe this weekend. Do you think it would work with jicama? I’ll try that too!

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 4, 2016 at 12:13 pm


  • Reply Bri May 4, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Love! I was debating strolling to the grocery store to pick up a block of cheese (otherwise eat cheeseless pizza for dinner? Hmm..) Now I am totally adding radishes to the list. Also, I saw your post about podcasts and you should totally look up the Living Homegrown podcast. She does a whole speil on quick pickling and all sorts of other awesome things I think you’d probably be into!

  • Reply kiki May 4, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Yes! I put these on everything. I usually throw whichever veg is starting to turn into the batch too. Onions, shallots, jalapenos, carrots, cauliflower etc. The possibilities are endless!

  • Reply B May 4, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Oh man- want to see pretty? Pick a bunch of rhubarb and chop those bad boys up! Beautiful pink and green goodness all over my cutting board.

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 4, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      YES! See also 😉

      • Reply Miina May 5, 2016 at 2:50 am

        Ooh, forgot it was you I saved that rhubarb syrup recipe from! Those pretties are popping up in the garden as it’s finally got warm here, so I’ll try to remember to make it this year 😀

  • Reply Mary Katherine May 4, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I was always under the impression that pickling was a long, arduous process, much like canning vegetables. I’m happy to know it’s not so. I had the BEST avocado toast the other day (at this coffee shop in Jersey City if you ever make it over the two rivers) that had pickled radishes and shallots on top and I am dying to recreate it!

  • Reply Shivani May 4, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I pickled radishes just a couple of months ago! The heartier winter radishes work well too; I julienned them into sticks and stuffed a few peeled cloves of garlic amongst them before I poured over my vinegar & spice mix. I also used apple cider vinegar, which adds a beautiful flavor as well! Delicious piled on a grain salad (aka whatever grains & greens & cheese I have in the fridge) with a smear of miso-tahini dressing (miso, tahini, garlic, a splash of olive oil, and a splash of tamari blended in a jar with a bit of water to thin) — my go-to lazy-but-still-healthy meal!

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 4, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Yum!! Making ASAP.

    • Reply Erin S May 5, 2016 at 10:18 am

      First of all, YUM! Sounds like it would pack well for lunch the next day!

      Second, I love how you refer to this as “lazy” 😉 hehe. My husband always pokes fun at me because I’ll refer to a meal as easy and then go on to talk about the process and he always says, “I don’t think a lot of people would call that easy.” Ha! It always makes me giggle. When you’re accustomed to challenging yourself in the kitchen, sometimes simple meals feel less accomplished … but being able to whip up a salad like this on the fly deserves a pat on the back.

  • Reply Lydia @ lupinelydia May 4, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    I’ve never eaten, much less made, anything pickled at all! But now…I might try just because it’s so darn pretty!

  • Reply ladylyn May 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Beets and Swiss chard are my they-taste-good-enough-but-I-really-eat-them-because-they’re-pretty foods. 😀

  • Reply Carmella May 4, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Oh, this is brilliant! And oh-so-pretty! Radish seeds are going in the garden this very evening 🙂

  • Reply Miina May 5, 2016 at 2:54 am

    I was hoping for that recipe ever since I saw you mention those little beauties the other day!

    But question from European – what % of acetic acid does the vinegar that you use have? We have here everything from 5% to 30%, so I’d thought I’d better ask.

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 5, 2016 at 7:30 am

      Hmm… no idea! Will try to investigate and get back to you!

  • Reply Sadey May 5, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Raspberries, and they have to be in a white bowl. almost (but only almost) too pretty to eat!

  • Reply thefolia May 5, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Don’t forget to use those beautiful greens as well…I usually end up sauteing them but sometimes I will add to a pesto or even chop up for some veggie patties. Happy feasting!

    • Reply Erin Boyle May 5, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      Yes! Totally!

  • Reply Lori H May 7, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    I have been making pickled red onion for a while now (similar recipe!) but today I finally found organic golden beets and bought 6 medium-sized ones to slice and pickle. Looking forward to trying them out in a few days. So pretty – they look like peaches.

  • Reply Rhianon December 15, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    I love the way pickled radishes look- they’re so pretty! And tasty of course. Have you ever tried fermenting them? It’s super easy (although not as quick!), and you get all that wonderful beneficial bacteria too!

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