- Food for Thought: Watermelon Radish
- What is a Watermelon Radish?
- What does it taste like?
- How do I eat it?
- Watermelon Radishes at Tupelo Honey
- How to Grow Watermelon Radish
- How to Grow Watermelon Radish in Your Garden
- What’s a watermelon radish, and what do I do with it?
- When to Plant Vegetables in South Florida
- Watermelon Radish Seeds
- What does watermelon radish taste like?
- Is watermelon radish good for you?
- How do you eat a watermelon radish?
- How to Make Sautéed Watermelon Radishes
- Watermelon Radish with Rosemary Brown Butter
- Watermelon Radish
- Red Meat Radish Seed
Food for Thought: Watermelon Radish
At Tupelo Honey, we love using unique ingredients that are as eye-catching as they are delicious. One of our favorites is the watermelon radish! It’s beautiful coloring and mild flavor makes it the perfect addition to many of our dishes.
What is a Watermelon Radish?
A watermelon radish is an heirloom Chinese Daikon radish. It’s a root vegetable and in the same family as arugula, broccoli, and turnips. Their pale green skins cover the bright pink interior (thus the name ‘Watermelon’ radish). They can range between the size of a golf ball to a soft ball, depending on when they are harvested.
What does it taste like?
Despite the name, watermelon radishes do not taste like watermelon! They have a mild flavor that is slightly sweet yet peppery. Unlike other radishes, the flavor becomes mellower the longer it matures.
How do I eat it?
The watermelon radish is highly versatile and can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or even pickled. You can eat the skin, but be sure to thoroughly wash away any dirt or soil beforehand.
When buying a watermelon radish, choose one that feels firm and heavy for its size and is free of any major bruises. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for a couple weeks.
Watermelon Radishes at Tupelo Honey
We love to use the watermelon radish in our Southern-inspired dishes. You can try this beautiful and tasty vegetable in our South Carolina Egg Rolls! This dish combines slow-roasted pork, South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, cilantro, and pickled watermelon radish for a fun fusion of Southern and Asian cuisines.
Our side salad also features watermelon radish slices, in addition to shaved carrots and our house-made White Balsamic Vinaigrette over mixed greens. ALMOST too pretty to eat!
Visit your favorite Tupelo Honey location today to try this unique ingredient!
How to Grow Watermelon Radish
You may have heard of watermelon radish before, but do you know what exactly it is and how to grow it? Today we’ll show you how to grow watermelon radish, a super cool exotic vegetable that will be the talk of your neighborhood!
Watermelon radish is an heirloom variety of the Daikon radish and are a member of the mustard family, which include arugula and turnip. The name watermelon radish comes from the fact that once sliced into, they look a lot like a cross between a watermelon and a radish, but they differ in taste as they have a much milder flavor and are a bit less peppery in taste. Let’s keep reading to find out how to grow watermelon radish!
How to Grow Watermelon Radish in Your Garden
Planting Watermelon Radish:
- Purchase seeds from a reputable nursery or online. Watermelon radish seeds may be hard to find, but you’ll have no problem ordering from from an online seeds catalog.
- Like radishes, watermelon radishes are just as easy to grow and very similar in planting and growing methods.
- Plant anywhere from early to late spring, and give them about 65 days to mature.
- You can plant every 2 weeks for a continuous harvest.
- Plant seeds in well drained, fertile soil.
- Soil must be sandy and rich in organic matter.
- Before planting watermelon radish seeds, amend the soil with 2-4 inches of well composted organic matter and 2-4 cups of all purpose fertilizer (16-16-8 or 10-10-10) per 100 square feet. Work these into the top 6 inches of the soil.
- Once soil temperatures have reached 40F (4C), you can sow the seeds directly into the ground.
- Sow seeds in rich soil evenly spaced in rows 6 inches apart at a depth of 1/2 inch.
- Tamp the soil down lightly and water the seeds in.
- Once seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin them to 2 inches apart.
- As the radishes grow, water them regularly
- Thin them as needed.
- Harvest after about 65 days.
- Watermelon radishes are very similar to growing regular radishes.
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What’s a watermelon radish, and what do I do with it?
This past Thanksgiving, one kitchen triumph sparked a series of successes, leaving me wishing the season of entertaining would never end.
Let’s start from the top: Boulangere’s chicken liver pâté, which inspired lengthy discussions and much praise, earned a permanent spot on my holiday table. And then, the presence of leftover pâté in my fridge paved the way for bánh mì sandwiches, otherwise a rare treat, to enter my regular meal rotation. And then, because bánh mì sandwiches are nothing without that bite of pickled carrots and daikon, I found purpose for the stash of watermelon radishes occupying my fridge’s vegetable drawer — it turns out watermelon radishes, an heirloom variety of the Chinese daikon radish, make a great pickle.
Happy guests! Culinary prowess! Bánh mì sandwiches! Not a radish wasted! Could this fortuitous cycle continue? It could, and it has, but not without one caveat: Pickled watermelon radishes smell about as inviting as a hockey bag left in a car trunk for a week. Truly, opening a jar of these pickles is risky business, an act proven to send toddlers running and adults shuddering.
I learned this the hard way, when I pulled from the fridge a jar of day-old quickly pickled radishes in hopes of using them for dinner. Upon untwisting the jar, however, I discovered that the day of fermentation had transformed the pickle from piquant to offensive.
Luckily, I also learned that the pungency tempered in as quickly as 15 minutes. And moreover, the pickled radish itself tasted much milder than it smelled, behaving not unlike a nice ripe cheese that just needs some time to breathe. And besides, I would never allow a little stink to deter me from layering these crisp, cool, and sharp slices onto my sandwiches.
Now that I’ve started pickling watermelon radishes in bulk, it’s hard to imagine not having them on hand. From grain bowls to charcuterie platters to simple sandwiches, the addition of this pickle offers that acidic counterpoint so often needed — I can hardly keep myself from reaching for more.
Enthusiasm aside, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to suggest you break out these rosy discs as your new party trick. Or maybe I am. Perhaps a new series of successes is just a pungent pickle away.
Selecting and storing your watermelon radishes:
As with many roots, watermelon radishes should feel heavy for their size, and their skin should feel firm and taut. Avoid watermelon radishes that feel spongy when gently squeezed. They should be stored in the fridge or a cool place, and unlike other radishes, winter radishes store well for at least a month. Also, you don’t have to use the entire radish at once — partially used roots will store for several days in a plastic bag or reusable container in the refrigerator.
Preparing your watermelon radishes:
Wash radishes well before using them, gently scrubbing to remove any dirt. Watermelon radishes do not have to be peeled before using.
Pickling your watermelon radishes:
Before I started pickling radishes in bulk, I would pickle small batches as needed. This 15-minute pickle makes a great addition to any sandwich or grain bowl or noodle dish. You can pickle julienned carrot strips along with the radishes, too, which is a particularly nice combination, but other roots will work as well: parsnips, turnips, celery root, whatever you like!
Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice your watermelon radishes crosswise into discs, then stack the discs and slice them into thin strips. Place strips in a small bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and a splash of vinegar. Toss to coat, then set aside. After 15 minutes, the radish strips should have released some liquid and should be somewhat limp. Toss again, then transfer to a serving bowl, leaving any remaining liquid behind.
These days, I pickle my watermelon radishes in bulk, which is nice because it takes no more active time to prepare than the quick pickle and having pickled radish slices on hand is such a treat. Thinly slice your watermelon radishes into discs, then place in a clean canning jar. Alternatively, slice the radishes into tall sticks about half-inch thick and place in the jar.
There are countless ways to make a pickle brine. I have experimented with various combinations for these watermelon radishes: using all vinegar in some batches; half vinegar, half water in others; changing the sugar and salt ratios; changing the type of vinegar; and playing with seasonings from ginger and red pepper flakes to garlic and peppercorns.
I was surprised to find that the all-vinegar brines were too potent for the radishes, and that I favored white distilled vinegar over white wine or white balsamic vinegars. Also, the variation I thought I would love — slivered ginger and red pepper flakes — was too dominating. In the end, my favorite brine was a simple mix of equal parts distilled vinegar and water, a small amount of sugar and salt, and garlic and peppercorns — the garlic permeates the radish without overwhelming its flavor. See here for the full recipe.
Don’t feel like pickling? Here are a few other ideas:
- Shave your radishes into a grain salad threaded with pecans and dried cranberries, brightened with mint and tarragon, and dressed with sherry vinegar and walnut oil.
- Roast them with daikon radishes, then toss with a horseradish-chèvre dressing.
- Make Deborah Madison’s jicama, orange, and watermelon radish salad tossed with avocados and a cumin-lime vinaigrette.
- Make a raw carrot, beet, and watermelon radish salad tossed with basil, orange, and a hefty splash of cider vinegar.
Pickled watermelon radishes
Makes 1 cup
1 to 2 watermelon radishes
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, lightly crushed
When to Plant Vegetables in South Florida
Knowing when to plant vegetables in South Florida can be a bit tricky because every vegetable is different. Most vegetables thrive in our milder temperatures through autumn, winter, and spring because too much direct summer sun can end up scorching them. That being said, there are still a few veggies that can take the heat and will grow well here in Fort Lauderdale if planted in summer.
Planting Vegetables in South Florida: Autumn Through Spring
Lots of vegetable plants tend to have more Goldilocks-like preferences: not too hot, and not too cold. Plant them in the more temperate seasons for optimal performance!
Broccoli: This cold-hardy vegetable prefers milder temperatures and will grow best if planted between September and January. It usually takes between 75-90 days to mature and produce harvestable food. Since it takes so long, you probably won’t want to plant any later than January or else the temperatures will get too warm and the broccoli will bolt—meaning it will begin to flower instead of maintaining those tiny, green buds we savor on the plate.
Arugula: We love the spicy kick this salad green packs, and it’s so easy to grow! It pairs fabulously with sweeter ingredients, like honey-based vinaigrettes or sliced beets, but it can also be used in more savory dishes, like on top of pasta for a bit of extra crunch. There’s a pretty big window of time in which you can plant arugula—anytime between October and January should be fine. It will be ready to harvest fairly quickly, within 35-60 days.
Cucumbers: The ideal time to seed cucumbers is between September and February, and they’re good to go in about 45-60 days. While generally considered a warm weather vegetable, our South Florida climate is just a bit too warm for cucumbers in the summer, so autumn through spring will provide more comfortable conditions for them to grow in.
Beans: Bush beans, pole beans, and lima beans all have about the same growing season in Fort Lauderdale—between September and April. They mature pretty fast, so if you get antsy waiting for your vegetables to develop, beans are a great option for getting harvestable food in just 2-3 months.
Spinach: Popeye was “strong to the finish ‘cuz he eats his spinach”, but spinach is really only strong in South Florida if seeded between October and February. It prefers milder, cooler temperatures, but while its growing season may not be terribly long, it matures quite quickly (between 45-60 days), so you’ll still get plenty of food out of it.
Beets: These sweet, bright magenta root veggies definitely don’t like too much heat, so seeding between October and January is your best bet. They take between 50-70 days to mature and you may notice seedlings sprouting a couple of extra “baby beets.” We recommend thinning out the beet seedlings after you’ve planted to ensure that the stronger beets get adequate nutrition, and prevent you from being left with a bunch of smaller, underperforming beets. It’s also a good idea to stagger your plantings so you don’t end up with one giant harvest all at once. Plant a few each week for a month or two and you’ll have a nice consistent harvest throughout winter and spring!
Cauliflower: We can’t believe how trendy this vegetable has become—buffalo cauliflower “wings,” cauliflower pizza crusts, cauliflower pasta—you name it! This veggie is everywhere. Lots of folks grow their cauliflower alongside their broccoli, as they tend to have pretty similar needs and grow at similar speeds. If seeded between September and January, you’ll have a fresh crop within 75-90 days.
Kale: This popular vegetable has really been making waves in the last few years, and while cauliflower may be taking center stage more recently, kale still deserves some love. This cool weather vegetable can be seeded between September and January and matures in 50-70 days.
Radish: For one half of the year, you can get away with seeding and growing radishes: from October to March. They’re definitely one of the fastest vegetables to develop, usually ready for harvest in one month, and make fantastic container plants.
Summer Squash: Despite their name, these hearty veggies aren’t quite cut out for summers in SoFlo, but you still have a pretty reasonable window of time to plant them. Begin seeding sometime between August and March, and they’ll be ripe and ready in 40-50 days. Tomatoes: Okay, okay, we know they’re fruits, but they’re still deserving of a spot on this list. You should aim to plant tomato seeds sometime between August and February. The time they take to mature is really dependent on the cultivar you purchase, so you’ll be looking at anywhere from 70-110 days to reach maturity.
The Best Vegetables to Grow in South Florida Summers
These heat-loving vegetables can handle our Florida sun like total champs. If you want to plant vegetables year-round so you can enjoy fresh garden produce regularly, adding some of these veggies to the garden will help fill in the gaps during the hotter months when most vegetable plants can’t quite hack it.
Peppers: These delicious veggies can pack a ton of flavorful heat, and they certainly like to soak it up, too. Plant peppers sometime between February and September in an area with lots of direct sunlight. The maturation time depends on the variety—sweeter peppers are usually ready between 2-3 months, whereas hot peppers can take as long as 4 months.
Sweet Potato: The ultimate comfort food vegetable, the sweet potato is a classic staple in winter holiday dishes. Yet, it really prefers to grow during our warmer months, so planting from February to the end of June will yield the best results. Sweet potatoes should be started from “slips,” which are basically tiny starter plants, as starting them from seeds can make them more disease-prone. Water them consistently and thoroughly to avoid splitting, and make sure the soil is nice and loose so they don’t get stunted growth.
Cherry and Grape Tomatoes: For such tiny, delicate morsels, cherry and grape tomatoes can withstand some pretty intense temperatures! Their small size and quicker maturation time make them less susceptible to damage or stunted growth from our hot sun. You can pretty much plant them any time in Florida, but if you’re worried that the weather conditions are a bit too extreme, you can plant them in containers and move them around to different spots.
Okra: Easily one of the most heat-tolerant vegetables around, this plant is a staple in South Florida vegetable gardens. You can begin to seed okra any time from January to September, and you’ll be delighted at how quickly they germinate. Adding some mulch around the base of the plant will help to conserve moisture so you don’t have to water quite as frequently.
With a bit of pre-planning and a well-scheduled seeding calendar, you can enjoy fresh vegetables from the garden all year long—it’s all in the timing. If you’d like to get started on germinating vegetable seeds, or if you’d like to buy some slips or starter plants, visit Living Color Garden Center in Fort Lauderdale, and we’ll be happy to get you started on creating your own backyard produce aisle!
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Watermelon Radish Seeds
Sowing: Since watermelon radish seeds are winter radishes, they should be planted about two months before the first expected fall frost. Plant the daikon radish seeds in very rich, deeply worked up soil about 1/2″ deep and 1″ apart; later, thin the seedlings 4-6″ apart.
Growing: Radishes do well with consistently moist soil and the addition of organic matter such as compost. Do not allow the soil to dry out, but also avoid overwatering as this can cause splitting.
Harvesting: Watermelon radishes can be harvested at any time up to their mature size of 3″. The flavor is sweet and crisp; they also store well for the winter.
Seed Saving: Radishes will cross pollinate with all other varieties of radish, and must be isolated by at least half a mile from other varieties to protect genetic purity. Allow the radish plant to fully mature and send up a flowering stalk; the pods will form and turn from green to brown. Pick the brown pods and allow them to dry for several days. Thresh out the seeds by opening the pods by hand, or by applying pressure to crush them. Store daikon radish seeds in a cool, dry place for up to five years.
Looking for an easy watermelon radish recipe? This delicious side dish features beautiful watermelon radishes sautéed in brown butter, rosemary, and lemon zest. Simple and stunning.
Ah, summertime. The sun’s shining, the days are long, and it’s finally watermelon season! And I don’t just mean that watermelon fruit is in season.
Watermelon radishes also have a moment during this time of year. On the outside, these veggies sort of resemble turnips, with a pale white and green tinted skin.
But slice one open and you’ll see the most beautiful pink that nature has to offer. The vibrant pink interior contrasted with the greenish exterior makes them resemble actual watermelons (minus the black seeds). It’s how they got their name!
What does watermelon radish taste like?
Even though they look like watermelons, these radishes do not taste like fruit. Instead, they have a peppery taste, but it’s milder and less spicy compared to other types of radishes.
Is watermelon radish good for you?
Of course! Not only are these vegetables simply beautiful, but watermelon radishes are also incredibly nutritious. They are low in calories and a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
Radishes contain glucosinolates that break down to isothiocyanates and may protect against heart disease, cancer, and neurological issues (1, 2).
These compounds are also responsible for the pungent flavor and peppery bite of radishes.
What’s more, colorful radishes contain pigments called anthocyanins that may act as antioxidants in the body and fight against heart disease (1, 3).
How do you eat a watermelon radish?
You can slice raw watermelon radishes and add them to salads, or grate them to use in slaws. They also taste great roasted or sautéed with olive oil, butter, and/or fresh herbs. For this recipe, I chose to sauté them!
How to Make Sautéed Watermelon Radishes
First, trim off the tail and top of each radish. Scrub them with a vegetable brush and slice in half. Dice each half into 1-inch cubes. They don’t have to perfect…mine definitely weren’t!
Heat a combination of butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the radishes and about 2 tsp of fresh rosemary, plus some salt and pepper. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the radishes are browned and tender.
Add a little bit more butter (if desired), some lemon zest, and 1 tsp of rosemary. Cook for a couple more minutes, remove from heat, serve, and enjoy!
The radishes lose some of their bite while they’re cooking, and the final result is a simply delicious combination of fresh flavors!
If you make this recipe, be sure to rate and review it using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and don’t forget to follow and tag @its_a_vegworld_afterall on Instagram! Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
For some other radish recipes, check out the Loaded Radish Chip Nachos, Braised Radishes and Leeks, or Radish and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Crema.
Watermelon Radish with Rosemary Brown Butter
A delicious watermelon radish recipe featuring decadent brown butter, fresh rosemary, and lemon zest. 5 from 1 vote Pin Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 15 mins Total Time: 20 mins Servings: 2 people Calories: 193kcal Author: Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN
- 2 watermelon radishes – trimmed, scrubbed, and diced (skin on); about 2-3 cups diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter – divided; can use salted or unsalted
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary – divided
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add the watermelon radishes, sea salt, and 2 tsp of the fresh rosemary to the pan.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the radishes are tender and slightly browned. It may take a few more minutes depending on your stovetop, so adjust the cooking time as needed.
- Add the last tbsp of butter and the last tsp of rosemary, as well as the lemon zest, to the skillet. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm!
Feel free to adjust the seasonings as desired (i.e. more rosemary, less butter, more lemon, etc.)
Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 314mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg Did you make this recipe?Tag @its_a_vegworld_afterall and follow me today!
Pin this watermelon radish recipe now to make later!
Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are hardy annuals in the Brassicaiceae family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, mustards, watercress and horseradish. Most varieties are best harvested young, but some are specifically selected as winter storage radishes.
Soil Nutrients and Requirements
Remove stones from loose, well drained soil with pH 5.8-6.8. Go easy on nitrogen, as excessive amounts can lead to big tops and little roots.
Planting depth: 1/4-1/2”
Plant spacing: for garden radishes 1”, for daikon 4-6”. Thin if necessary to ensure even sizing.
For garden radishes 8-12”, for daikon 12-16”.
When to Sow
Radishes can be direct seeded as soon as soil can be worked and are best adapted to the cooler temperatures and shorter day-length of spring and fall. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 65-85°F. Seedlings emerge within a few days. Plant every 10 days for a continual supply. Winter radishes should be planted to mature around fall frost date.
Harvest radishes on time as they do not hold well in the field, especially in warm weather when roots tend to become pithy and pungent.
Topped radishes will keep good quality for 3-4 weeks if store at near freezing temperatures with high humidity in semi-permeable containers.
- Flea beetles can present a problem, particularly for young plants, by chewing small holes in the leaves. Healthy plants usually outgrow the damage to produce a fine crop. Where undamaged leaves are desired or flea beetles are especially problematic, use floating row cover (see Supplies) from time of planting until two weeks after leaves emerge.
- Floating row cover also helps prevent the cabbage root maggot, which feeds on the plant roots.
- Like other crucifers, radishes can be subject to fungal diseases in wet seasons, such as Alternaria Leaf Spot and White Mold (sclerotinia).
- Clubroot is a soil borne disease which stunts the roots of the plants so that they are not able to develop normally. Rotate crops and add lime to raise soil pH to 7.2.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Raphanus sativus
CULTURE: Radishes require friable, well-drained soils with a pH range of 5.8–6.8. Sow at any time during the season, beginning in early spring. Use 2–3″ wide bands, seeds about 3/4–1″ apart (about 35 seeds/ft. except 10 seeds/ft. for 624 Red Meat and 616 Nero Tondo), 1/2″ deep, rows 1′ apart, or any row or bedding scheme that will eliminate unplanted ground to discourage weeds. For longer, straighter French Breakfast radishes, sow 15–20% more seeds per row than round radishes, 1/2 to 1 cm deeper, and do not irrigate unless absolutely necessary. Radishes are adversely affected by hot, dry weather. They remain in prime condition only a few days and should be grown rapidly with plenty of moisture to be mild, tender, and attractive. If growth is checked, roots may become tough, pithy, and too spicy.
INSECT PESTS: Use floating row covers at time of planting to control flea beetles and cabbage root maggots.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Harvest promptly to avoid pithiness, beginning at about 3-4 weeks when roots are the size of a large marble. Bunch or top, hydrocool, and refrigerate. Topped radishes will keep 3–4 weeks in good, crisp condition if kept at 32°F (0°C), 95% relative humidity, and in breathable packaging. See product descriptions for longer storage of specialty types.
AVG. DIRECT SEEDING RATE: 1 oz./70′, 14 oz./1,000′, 21 lb./acre at 35 seeds/ft. in rows 18″ apart, or 31 lb./acre in rows 12″ apart.
SIZED SEEDS: Round red varieties only.
SEED SPECS: SEEDS/LB.: 36,500–61,200 (avg. 47,800).
PACKET: 250 seeds, sows 7′.