Monday, 28 January 2013

in praise of winter radish

black radishes

Some of the more modest heroes of the exceptionally lousy UK growing season that was 2012, were the winter radishes.  Now I realise they’re not the greatest lookers, but while the turnips and the carrots, (that mostly never germinated in the first place), are a distant memory – these guys have been resolutely soldiering on.  The melting snow revealed them and I thought it was definitely their time to shine. These are a variety from 1548 called ‘Black Spanish Round’, which together with their brothers ‘Black Spanish Long’, are collectively known as winter radish.  You can grow them all season but they stand well into the winter without going woody if you sow them later.

they're beautifully white inside

Now I don’t know if I should admit to this, but I always allow myself a slightly juvenile snicker at some of the veg names that have been handed down to us by our gardening ancestors.  Black Spanish Long sounds like you might find it in the ‘special equipment section’ at your local adult toystore - top shelf in between the Prince Alberts and Connover’s Colossal.  If, like me, you love words and language, the heirloom veg section of a seed catalogue is a great place to roll around.  Thomas Etty’s lovely catalogue is a particular favourite – worth a look even if he can’t ship the seeds to your country; the detail is glorious and you may be able to find a local supplier.  Who could resist a lettuce called ‘Fat Lazy Blond’ or a French bean called ‘Nun’s Bellybutton’?  Not me!

Anyway – back to the radishes.  Here is a picture of some that I have cut up ready to go into a chicken pie for tonight’s supper.  They have a very mild peppery flavour and would happily sub for turnip or swede in any stew/casserole recipe.

cut up for a pie

I started putting root veg (and a couple of surreptitious handfuls of red lentils), into my pies as a way of broadening the palate of my younger stepson, who was a bit of a teenage veg dodger when I first made his acquaintance.  I was able to produce documentary evidence that his favourite store bought Cornish pasty included swede on its ingredient list, which swung things in my favour. Six years down the track, it’s not Stepmommy’s Special Chicken Pie if it hasn’t got some chunky root veg in it – result!  Not sure if he knows about the lentils yet but he’ll never read this….. will he?  Should I take out the bit about the Prince Alberts....?!?!?


  1. Oh how I miss growing my own veg. I grew this beauty a couple of years ago, how lovely to have home grown. Will be reading of your growign adventures.

    1. Thanks Shaheen - the pie went down a treat. Glad you're enjoying the blog.