Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus
Once gardeners learn how to store radishes properly, growing the delightfully varied root vegetable becomes practically a year-round affair.
Since the ground itself is the best place to store radishes in the short term – say, a few days to a few weeks – all efforts to store radishes once they are harvested should focus on mimicking those conditions: dark, quite cool, and damp but not soaking wet.
Traditionally, when lots of people lived on farms and had spring houses or root cellars, radish storage meant insulating picked radishes in boxes filled with clean straw or similar material. That way, the radishes were kept quite cool but didn’t get soggy and rot.
Another kind of early storage still works fine, but it takes more work to put into place. That method is an in-ground box or an earthen trench for storage, a kind of mini-root cellar. Similar to storing radishes in a full size root cellar, the in-ground box should be made of sturdy wooden slate, with the radishes sandwiched between layers of straw and leaves, all covered with dirt.
Today, it’s much more common to store harvested radishes in a refrigerator. Again, the surroundings are important. Once radishes are rinsed cleaned, with tops cut off, wrap them up in moistened paper towels and place these in a plastic bag. But don’t close the plastic bag all the
way, or too much moisture may accumulate inside and the radishes rot. Poke holes in the plasticbag or leave it slightly open.
Of course, leaving mature radish roots in the ground works quite well if the weather is cool.
The two main kinds of radishes are fast-growing table radishes, usually small and round but often in other shapes and sizes. These radishes should be harvested a few at a time as soon as they get to mature size. The rest are stored right in the ground, as long as midsummer heat doesn’t take over.
Table radishes can be planted again in the summer for an autumn harvest. As the soil cools off it makes a good place to store the maturing radishes. In fact, most radishes can survive plenty of frost, and only need to be removed from the ground when low temperatures approach 20°F.
Longer-season radishes, often of the daikon type, are sown as seeds in summer for an autumn or winter harvest. These larger radishes can handle plenty of frost, so leave them in the ground aslong as possible for storage.
Radish roots are seldom if ever kept in the freezer for storage; the roots will get rock hard and then possibly fall apart when thawed. That’s because the roots are filled with water; frozen raw potatoes would suffer the same fate.
However, nutritious radish greens can be frozen. Be sure to prepare them correctly. To do this, rinse them thoroughly to clean, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes to stop enzyme action and then plunge them into cold water. Pat the greens dry, then pack into plastic bags, and freeze. Vacuum packing before freezing will extend the usable life and improve quality.