Watermelon radishes are an heirloom variety of daikon radish and like daikon are delicious both raw and pickled. Because it are milder than regular radishes, pickled watermelon radish makes a great addition to sandwiches, grain bowls, and salads. My favorite is to add thin slices to a toasted bagel with beet-cured salmon and fresh dill.
Watermelon radishes are easiest to find in the cooler months of Spring and fall. Similar to regular radishes, you don’t have to peel them before eating. Just make sure to wash away any dirt. When buying them, choose firm radishes that feel heavy for their size. Avoid radishes that feel spongy when squeezed. They will last for a few weeks in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
How to make pickle brine
For any pickle recipe, the right amount salt or vinegar is critical to control the growth of microorganisms. While fermentation-based recipes rely on salt (3% salinity is the sweet spot!), these use vinegar to make self-stable pickles. Making a vinegar-based brine is as easy as combining equal parts water and 5% strength vinegar (like apple cider or distilled white vinegar). Then, add about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per cup of brine.
Spices are entirely optional but impart big flavor. My standard is one clove of garlic and one teaspoon of spices like black peppercorns, coriander seeds, celery seeds, or mustard seeds per 16 oz canning jar.
Pickled Watermelon Radishes
- 4 watermelon radishes
- 1.75 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1.75 cup water
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 tsp spices such as coriander seeds, black peppercorns, red chili flakes, or fennel seeds
Wash the watermelon radishes to remove any dirt and trim off the ends. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice the radishes as thinly as possible.
In a medium saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil, and simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour enough of the hot brine over the radishes ensuring to cover completely.
Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. Radishes will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge.