What is this? Black Radishes
They are beautiful, aren't they? They are also pretty rare in North America, but word on the street is they are far more common in Europe and France, so much so that they are nicknamed Raifort des Parisiens (the Parisian Radish). They are ancient vegetables, probably originating in Syria, though they have been found depicted in the tombs of ancient Egypt, and were popular in Europe in the mid-16th century.
Black radishes are matte black skinned globes or elongated roots with snow white flesh and are usually bigger than your average radish. They are sown anywhere from early summer through fall, depending on the climate, and usually harvested in fall and winter. They store well, keeping in root cellars or refrigerators for months.
They are also packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, sulphur, fiber and B vitamins. They are known for health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, keeping bone marrow healthy, and detoxing the liver. Many holistic, Ayurveda, Chinese and indigenous medicine practitioners use black radishes in their practice, and it is believed the ancient Egyptians used them in tinctures as well.
How to Store Black Radishes:
Like most root vegetables, they are best stored in a cool dry place. If you live in the city and a root cellar is impossible, you can put them a perforated plastic bag and store them in one of the vegetable drawers in your refrigerator.
What do you do with them?
Aside from my basic roasting recipe and its various uses, there are a lot of ideas out there for this unusual root:
In Europe they use black radishes to give mashed potatoes a kick.
Some people swear by salting them (probably similar to the way you'd salt eggplant)
The New York Times has a Grated Black Radish Relish recipe
If you like it pungent, Epicurious offers a Black Radish Salad recipe
They make amazing garnishes (see slideshow above)