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Beer radishes: traditional food for Bavarian beer gardens

In Bavaria in a summer beer garden, the "Radi" is traditionally served up alongside a tall glass of cool beer. A Radi is a long white radish with a mild, refreshingly spicy taste. There’s a special cutter to slice it into a long spiral that looks beautifully piled artistically on a board. This type of giant radish is also good as a salad, grated, sliced or cut into fine slivers and served with a vinaigrette. It’s also a good accompaniment for grilled meat or fish. Top tip: radishes taste more delicate and are more digestible if they are well salted, left to stand for a while then dabbed dry with kitchen paper. Briefly steamed, radish tastes good with roast meat or fish. Simply cut it into thin sticks, cook for a few minutes in very little salt water then add a dab of butter. Some of the typical sharpness is lost during cooking.

Origin and botany

The radish is one of the oldest cultivated plants. It probably came originally from the Near East, but it has long been cultivated in Europe. In Germany, these long, white summer radishes are grown mainly in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. You’ll also find round, white spring radishes called May radishes and black winter radishes. In Asia, radishes are one of the most important vegetable varieties. Japan and South Korea are the top consumers, eating 14 and 30 kg per person per year respectively. By comparison, Germans only eat a meagre 250 g per person per year.

Health promoting ingredients

With their high water content, radishes contain very few calories. Health benefits also come from vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium and mustard oil glycosides, which are responsible for the sharp taste. The radish is also known as a medicinal plant, thought to stimulate metabolism and digestion. Sweetened radish juice relieves coughs and hoarseness.

Buying and storing radishes

Look for freshness and quality. Smaller radishes with a diameter of a maximum of seven centimetres are the best choice. The leaves should be bright-green and the root firm. All a radish needs in the way of preparation is a good wash. There’s no need to peel it. With the leaves removed and the root wrapped in a damp cloth, a radish will stay beautifully crisp in the refrigerator for several days.

 

Source: Heike Stommel, www.bzfe.de