Watermelon radishes entered my culinary life on a dismal, wet Sunday morning at the local farmer's market this winter. From the outside these fist sized roots bear only a hint of their bright interiors; I almost passed them by in my haste to seek shelter from the rain.
Then I noticed that Asian American shoppers were quickly snapping them up in quantity. I took the hint that I had come upon a vegetable kingdom delicacy and brought some home for further exploration. As soon as I cut one open, I was inspired by its gorgeous color to turn the whole batch into watermelon radish pickles. The process was quick and easy and the finished product so delicious that I have been making them regularly ever since. You might want to double the recipe!
3 - 4 medium watermelon radishes
2 cups fresh water
1 teaspoon sea salt
Scrub radishes and trim off the tops and bottoms. Slice into rounds, then cut rounds into strips. In a bowl, dissolve sea salt in water. Pack radish pieces into a very clean glass jar and pour in the brine. If all the slices are not completely covered in liquid, make a little extra and add to the jar. As long as the vegetables are immersed in brine, only healthy microorganisms will multiply as fermentation begins.
Cover jar with a lid but do not tighten; a little breathing room is necessary for the gases produced by fermentation. Place jar on kitchen counter; your work is done! The radishes will begin to ferment after a day or two, depending on the temperature of your kitchen and other atmospheric variables. In a few days the brine and the radishes will turn a uniformly deep purple - fuschia tint.
After four or five days, the radishes will have a pleasingly tart- sour flavor and will still be somewhat crunchy. I usually ferment the pickles for about five days; then I place the jar in the fridge where they will continue to ferment at a slower pace. They are edible at any stage.