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Purple radish is a long variety that can grow up to 8 to 10 inches long, but is most often harvested at 6 inches long. The root vegetable has a plump appearance with a rough, purple-hued skin. The radish’s purple pigment is most concentrated just beneath the skin, forming a perfect violet ring around the bright white, striated flesh. The crisp flesh of the Purple radish doesn’t grow pithy at the core like many other larger cylindrical varieties, and it has a sharp, peppery taste.
Purple radishes are available year-round with a peak season in the winter and spring months.
Purple radish is a hybrid variety of Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus, more commonly known as daikon or Korean radish. The purple hued variety is known by two names: Bora King or Bravo. Radishes are in the Brassicaceae family, related to broccoli and brussels sprouts. The nutrient rich Purple radishes are a hybrid species that has been stabilized over several generations.
Purple radishes are a good source of vitamins and fiber. The violet-hued daikon root is rich in vitamins C, A, E and B6. It is also rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. The phytonutrients responsible for the root’s purple hue are anthocyanins, which contain high amounts of antioxidants. Daikon radish is considered a diuretic, and is helpful as a detoxifier for the kidneys. Because of the low caloric value and high nutrient value, daikon radish is considered a superfood.
Purple radishes add color to any dish, whether it be a crudité platter or a green salad. The peppery root vegetable is ideal for serving raw, either sliced or coarsely grated using a special Japanese grater, for ‘daikon oroshi’. The coarsely grated Purple radish can be added to dishes of soba noodles or sashimi. The Korean radish can also be thinly sliced and pickled (tsukemono). Cooking Purple radish can tone down the spicy taste of the root. Add quartered Purple radish to soups or braising liquids. Purple radishes are long keepers and will overwinter in a cold, humid environment for up to three months. Prepared Purple radish will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
In Korea, where the Purple radish originated, the most popular use for daikon is kimchi. The purple variety adds a vibrant color to the typically monotone condiment, which is a combination of Chinese cabbage, daikon, and Korean chilies. In Japan, daikon radish is sometimes shaved thinly and steeped for tea.
Radishes have their origins in Southeast Asia but today can be found growing all over the world. Purple radishes were the result of a deliberate cross between two parent radishes. If grown during the summer, the prolonged heat can result in a much spicier root. The cooler winter temperatures produce a milder spring radish.
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