Saturday, August 29, 2009

Radish Seed Pods

Every spring I tell myself that this is the year that I vigilantly maintain my vegetable garden. By early July, it is always obvious that I am one neglectful gardener! This year, my fiance came up with the brilliant idea to lay down cedar mulch between the plants to hold down the weeds. She put it down over half the garden and it worked brilliantly. Now, only the garden plants themselves are fighting for position.
Every year, I plant radishes. They're the red kind you find in your local North American grocery store for a $1 a bag. Every year, my plants don't get thinned out, causing the roots not to grow in beautiful round bulbs. Every year, I allow the plants to grow wild, flower and sprout seed pods. By this point, the radishes that grow into nice bulbs are so strong, if eaten raw it will lead to violent gagging and a numb tongue.
This year, I actually did a lot of reading on cultivating these little fellas. I learned a lot that I hope to put into practice next year... One thing I did learn is that radishes have a built in benefit for terrible gardeners like myself. Edible seed pods.
A specific variety of radish, rat-tail, is grown for its edible pods. However, all radish pods are edible. I was a little apprehensive, after all, the pods aren't sold in any grocery stores as far as I know and nutritiondata.com or any other nutrition value source does not include information on the pods. One day, a couple weeks ago, when I was really hungry, I took the plunge. At first, I tried popping the pods open like a pea and eating just the seeds. They were good, but a lot of effort as the pods and seeds are about 1/4 the size of a pea pod. I am noticing that unlike the peas, the age of the pod doesn't much affect the flavour - yet another benefit for the neglectful gardener.
Eating the whole pod is quite tasty. It's sort of like eating a fresh, crisp snow pea pod but the taste is much tangier, although not nearly as strong as the radish root itself. The one thing I did find about eating them raw and by themselves was that I got drymouth - probably a good idea to have a drink at your side.
I've been jamming these little babies in salads since my discovery and they really add to the flavour. I've yet to cook with them but I've read they have a great affect on cooked food as well, although, the spicy flavour dissipates with cooking.
The one thing I am still unclear on is the nutritional value of the pods. There are recipes and other information galour to be found but not a single word on nutritional value. One assumption is that they are the same as the root which is strong in ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium as well as a great source of vitamin b6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium. However, logic would state that this is probably not true, at least in proportions, because the beet isn't the same as the greens and the broccoli stalk isn't the same as the florets, etc.
I've sent an e-mail to Health Canada to try and find out some more information. Until the time when I do get some hard facts, I'll continue to eat these little treats knowing they're safe, organic and healthy and leave it at that.

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