I just finished putting up a jar of radish and onion fermented pickles, joining the ranks of probiotic-rich pickles that fill up the majority of my fridge.
When I had a large garden at my last house, I would base my meals and my preservation projects off of what I was harvesting or what I had a bounty of. But, when I moved to a new house without a garden, my style of meal planning had to change. I wasn’t used to going to the store or the weekly farmers market. The options overwhelmed me.
So, several months ago, I joined a CSA. Each week I pick up a box of locally grown and seasonal produce.
I may not be growing or harvesting this bounty, but it gives me the structure and rhythm I’m used to. Suddenly, I’m inundated with a handful of veggies and I have to figure out what to do with it. I love it.
The first items to be used are the softer greens, like mizuna and lettuce. Next, the stiffer greens like kale. Then, the broccoli or cauliflowers. The root veggies are the last to be used.
Like rutabaga. I had several the size of baseballs, hanging out at the bottom of the produce drawer in the fridge, for a least a month. Because who knows what the hell to do with rutabagas?
It’s not that I don’t like rutabagas, they just aren’t the most exciting of vegetables. Large, round roots, the size of baseballs or softballs, they are creamy colored, blushed purple or red around the shoulders. Sometimes slightly knobby. And, they inevitably get left behind, until I can muster up the creativity to deal with them. In this instance, I was planning on mashing them with cream and butter, and serving with a roast chicken.
Except when I started peeling and then cut one open, I realized they weren’t rutabaga. They were watermelon radishes.
Produce planning fail.
So dinner got revised, and the watermelon radishes disguised as rutabagas became a jar of radish and onion fermented pickles.
CREATING A RADISH AND ONION FERMENT
This was my first time fermenting onions. I’ve had some people tell me that their attempts weren’t great, leaving them with a “funky” ferment, but I didn’t have any problems. I owe it to the fact I wasn’t fermenting straight onions, instead, I combined both radishes and the onions.
I used my watermelon radishes (disguised as rutabagas), sliced into thin circles and layered with the onions, but normal radishes sliced would work just as well. Any kind of radish makes a beautiful ferment: large Asian radishes, tiny French breakfast radishes, multi-colored globes radishes. Each would add it’s own variety to your fermented pickle creation.
Ideally, the radishes you’re using haven’t sat at the bottom of your fridge for a month (or two). Fresh produce always ferments better. They also don’t need to be peeled. Unless, of course, you also mistook them for a different knobby root vegetable and have already stripped the outer layer off, then, it’s totally OK. I used a yellow onion, but red or white would also be great.
Neither radishes or onions produce much of their own liquids, so this is a brine-based fermentation. Feel free to scale the quantities up or down, for how much produce you have available. Like all radish ferments, the brine will slowly change to a vibrant pink color.
- 9 oz. radishes
- 4 oz. onion
- 2 cups water
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- Peel and slice onion into 1/4" thick rounds.
- Trim off any unappealing parts of the radish, then slice into 1/4" thick rounds.
- Stir the salt into the water until dissolved (I put in a closed jar and shake).
- Layer radishes and onions in a mason jar or your fermentation vessel. Pour the brine over the vegetables. The brine should completely cover the radishes and onions.
- Use your preferred method to submerge your veggies and cover your jar.
- Place your vessel on a plate or towel and allow to ferment at room temperature for 6 days -2 weeks. (I let mine ferment for 1 week)
- When you are pleased with level of fermentation, remove your weight and airlock, secure with a lid, and store in the fridge.
These pickles will have a strong smell while fermenting. The brine might also change to a beautiful ruby pink color. Both are totally normal.
These radish and onion fermented pickles are best enjoyed chilled.
Serving suggestions: Chop up and use in tacos, burritos, buddha bowls, salads, grain bowls, or add to a cheese plate.