Pickling in a Pinch: How to Preserve Fall Veggies on the Fly

Even though the gardening season is winding to a halt, many of those cold hearty veggies are still producing unencumbered by the lowering temperatures and frequent showers. I know in my respective gardens I have more lettuce and greens than I can manage, and a ridiculous amount of radish that I hastily planted but never really planned for.


I’ve found myself carting around fistfuls of radish, handing them off to friends, workmates and strangers, with an air of desperation. “Please….just take them!” Sadly the fate of these brassica bouquets was a likely limp and lifeless one. Relegated to wilt, sad and alone, in a crisper somewhere. This pained me so much, that I pledged to change it!



I haven’t heard of people doing much with radishes in this neck of the woods, or in Canada in general, but other places I’ve traveled, radishes have acted as a staple snack or garnish on a variety of dishes. In some North Asian countries, like S. Korea, people often pickle turnip and radish is sweet vinegary brine, then eaten as a side dish to the main course. The French make a similar pickled radish they add to sandwiches. The best I’ve tasted though is the spicy Southern Mexican version often served with tacos and tortillas at small roadside stands.

The Mexican version replaces the sweet with the spicy as a preserving agent, along with vinegar to up the acid content and prevent bacteria growth. I’m definitely a bigger fan of the heat than the sweet, so I decided to go with the Mexican version. Here’s how I tossed together my Spicy Pickled Radish.


Sanitize your jars in a hot bath. While they are sanitizing, thinly slice radish and other fall veg you would like to add to your pickling mix. I used turnips, carrots, garlic and of course radish. I also used a selection of hot peppers and chili flakes for heat. You want to use vegetables with a natural crunch.



Next, pack your thinly sliced veggies into your sterilized jars tightly. Separately prepare a 1 to 1 solution of water and vinegar to add to your jar(s). If using chili flakes, add them to the solution. Add solution to jars and seal.



With this simple recipe, there is no boiling involved. Let the mixture cure in the fridge for a day or two and then eat with tacos, salads or as a side to other dishes.

Radishes must be refrigerated but they will last 3 to 4 weeks without worry. A quick and easy way to extend the life of your fall veggies.



Author: Will Hill. Community Food Programmer, Ecology Action Centre.

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