Some radishes—such as the French breakfast radish—can be mild and almost sweet. Others have a peppery flavor that will zip up your palate right into your nostrils. The black Spanish radish is one of them.
The black Spanish radish is a winter-keeping radish meaning if you set it aside under the right conditions it will keep for use at the table long after your local radish harvest season has past.
Growing black radishes. Radishes are cool season crops best planted in the spring and fall. While a French breakfast radish—the rosy scarlet radish with the white tip—comes to maturity in less than 25 days after planting, the black Spanish radish takes twice to three times as long to reach maturity. That means the black Spanish radishes planted back in September are now coming to harvest. (If you live in colder regions, black Spanish radishes are already in winter storage.)
Types of black radish. There are actually two types of black Spanish radish—the round one that is about the size and shape of a turnip and the long black Spanish radish which is cylindrical and can grow to about 8 inches (20 cm) long. Both are black skinned and have a flesh that is crisp and white and quite peppery. The long variety will be more pungent than the round, blunt ended one.
Choosing. When choosing a black Spanish radish, look for one that is solid, heavy, free of cracks, and generally unblemished. Always avoid radishes that give in to pressure when squeezed. Those radishes will likely be pithy.
Storing. The key to keeping the black Spanish radish for use throughout the winter is how it is stored. The old-fashioned way is to submerge these roots in a box or carton of moist sand in a cool place that will not freeze. The modern, easy way is to simply keep the black Spanish radish very dry stored in a perforated bag in the refrigerator.
Serving. Here is a recipe for a black Spanish radish salad: Shred the root and marinate it in salted water for two hours. (This will take the edge off its pungency.) Drain and press the shredded root dry. Serve as a salad with vinegar and oil. Sprinkle fresh minced herbs over the top.