If you visit my kitchen, on most days you'll find a few vegetable-filled jars sitting around, covered in colorful cloths, taking in the local Brooklyn bacteria. I love to ferment the produce available at the Farmer's Market to preserve the season's bounty and create my own probiotic edibles.
Probiotics are bacteria that find their way to the large intestine, where they assit in digestion and nutrient assimilation, and can benefit everything from brain to immune to cardiovascular health. While continually buying probiotic capsules at the natural food store gets rather expensive, fermenting a head of cabbage, a bunch of pickles, or a bundle of beets is easy on the bank account and way more delicious. Once you master these radishes, you can use the same technique with any vegetable.
In honor of spring, a few weeks ago I used two bunches of radishes to create a big batch of these punchy pink pickles. They sat out for 10 days before I liked their tang and moved them to the fridge. Since then, I've been adding my pickled radishes to salads, such as the Spring Wheat Berry Salad I've included in this post, and using them to to top off a taco, fried egg, or bowl of soup.
Makes 2 cups pickles
1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
2 cups filtered water
2 bunches red radishes, cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch thick slices
1 clove garlic (optional)
0 – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Wash one wide mouth quart jar and one quarter pint jar very well.
- Prepare the brine by mixing the salt in the water and stirring until completely dissolved.
- Pack the radishes into the clean quart jar. Add the garlic clove and red pepper flakes if desired. Cover with brine, leaving about and inch of room at the top of the jar.
- Fill the quarter pint jar with water and cover with a lid. Fit this jar into the mouth of the quart jar, pressing down so that the brine reaches the rim of the quart jar and the radishes are completely submerged.
- Use a clean, thin kitchen cloth, secured to the jar with a rubber band, to cover.
- Allow the radishes to ferment for 4-10 days at room temperature. The longer they ferment, the tangier they will become. Taste occasionally.
- When the taste suits you, removed the quarter pint jar, cover the quart jar with a lid and transfer the jar to the refrigerator.
Spring Wheat Berry Salad with Pickled Radishes and Goat's Cheese
Makes 4 servings
1 cup wheat berries, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 cloves peeled garlic, one whole and one minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen English peas
½ cup pickled radishes
3 tablespoons pickling liquid
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 ounces crumbled goat’s cheese
4 cups baby arugula
¼ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
Ground black pepper
- In a medium-sized pot, bring 5 cups water to a boil. Add wheat berries, ½ teaspoon salt, and one whole clove of garlic. Bring back up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until the wheat berries are tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, remove the garlic clove, and set aside.
- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the minced garlic clove. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the cut asparagus, peas, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook until asparagus is crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, cooked vegetables, pickled radishes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, pickling liquid, dill, parsley, arugula, and goat’s cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with sunflower seeds and serve immediately.