Fermented foods are so great for you, improving gut health, inflammation, digestion, overall immunity, and more! The money savings is real too. Organic, truly “living” fermented foods can cost a pretty penny at the grocery store! Once you have some of the basic tools on hand, they can cost you literally nothing to make – if you are using homegrown produce – or can be very inexpensive if you go pick up some organic produce at the farmer’s market or local grocery store. So how about we make some fermented radishes at home?
Here is one of the most simple ferment recipes out there! Fermented dilly radishes. Not only is this super easy to do, but this recipe also happens to be one of our favorite-tasting ones too! You do not need to be a fan of radishes to enjoy this recipe! Seriously. Their flavor profile totally changes, going from spicy to very mellow, zesty, and tangy once fermented. Even people who despise radishes like eating them in this way! An added bonus is that radishes are an easy crop to grow at home, and mature very quickly, making them a perfect companion to this all around quick and simple recipe. (Learn how to grow radishes here)
- A fermenting vessel – Some folks use ceramic crocks, but many homesteaders and herbalists these days just use mason jars of varying sizes. For small batches of fermented radishes like this one, you could use a pint or quart jar – a quart is what is shown here so that is the recipe we’ll follow today. Normally, we use these half-gallon mason jars. If we are making a big batch of something, we may even fill two at a time and end up with a gallon of fermented goodness total!
- Fermenting lid or air lock device – The use of a lid made for the fermentation process is ideal, which makes the job much easier and pretty foolproof, though a regular jar lid can be used with a few tweaks. Examples of fermenting lids include an all-in-one device like a Kraut Source lid, or the use of a combination of items like a glass or ceramic weight along with another type of air lock lid. A further discussion of their reasoning and use will follow in the directions section below.
- Organic Radishes – approximately 1 bunch for a quart jar batch
- Salt -non-iodized, sea salt preferred
- Filtered water
- Fresh Dill – 1 bunch
- Garlic – 2 to 4 cloves
- Optional: peppercorns, chili peppers, or red chili flakes
1) Clean your supplies
You want to make sure all of your supplies are clean. No, they don’t need to be insanely clean or “sterile” – you actually never want to use bleach, or even soap on your fermenting tools! The residual could stick around and really make things “off”. We spray ours with plain white vinegar, and then rinse well with hot water. That’s it. I do the same with my hands.
2) Prep radishes
Remove the greens, and wash the radishes well. You can eat those greens you know! Sauteeing them takes care of the prickle. Or at least compost them, or give them to the chickens.
Cut the radishes into bite sizes. For smaller radishes, some could be left in whole round slices. For larger radishes, I cut them into halves or even quarter slices. We shoot for about ⅛ inch thick slices. I find this size keeps the fermented radishes still plenty crunchy, but more tender than huge chunks. You can make yours more thin or thick as you please. They’ll ferment well all the same!
3) Add Seasoning
In the bottom of your chosen fermenting vessel, add some freshly washed sprigs of dill, and a clove or two of garlic. If you don’t like dill or garlic, you can totally skip either and keep it super simple! Or if you loooove garlic, you can add more. We find about 1-2 cloves of garlic in a quart jar, and 3-4 cloves per half-gallon jar is our sweet spot.
For the amount of dill, it depends on how you buy it. If you get the smaller plastic clamshell packages, I’d say use half of that for a quart jar, and the whole thing for a half-gallon jar. If you’re able to get larger, looser bunch of dill, we’ll generally use about a quarter of it in a quart jar, and half the bunch per half-gallon jar (though we often make two half-gallons at a time, thus using the whole bunch between the two). It doesn’t need to be precise.
You can also get creative here and go beyond what this basic recipe is calling for. For example, add a pinch of peppercorns, a chunk of fresh ginger or turmeric, a dash of red chili flakes, or even a whole hot chili pepper – if you want some heat! That’s the beauty of fermenting. The options for creativity are endless. Keep in mind that flavors usually mellow out when fermented too, like how hot chilis will become much less spicy than when eaten raw or even cooked once they’re fermented.
4) Pack the jar
Start adding your cut up radishes to the jar. When fermenting, it’s best to try to fit as many radishes in the jar as possible. If you’re going through this process, you might as well maximize the amount of cultured food you get out of it in the end! This will also reduce the amount of brine needed, and the amount of air that can get trapped inside. So, when you’re putting the radishes into the jar, don’t just throw handfuls in there all haphazardly.
We try to layer them in little by little, so that they’re all lying down flat against one another, reducing air pockets. I usually fill half the jar with the sliced radishes, then add another little layer of dill and a clove of garlic about halfway through, then continue layering with more veggies until the jar is totally full.
5) Make A Brine
The standard brine ratio for fermented vegetables is 1 tablespoon of sea salt or kosher salt per 2 cups filtered water. Do not use regular table salt or salt that has been otherwise iodized. It will say it on the package if it has been. This messes up the fermentation process.
The goal is to stir and dissolve the salt in the filtered water, so it will need to be room temperature or slightly warmer. We usually make the brine in a pot on the stovetop, but on a very low heat just until the salt is able to dissolve. You don’t want to add hot brine to your ferment, but warm is okay.
We will usually get this going on the stove while we are prepping the radishes. This way, if it accidentally gets a little too warm, it has time to cool down before adding it. With a fully-packed jar of veggies, we have found that 2 cups of brine is adequate per quart jar – double everything when using half-gallon jars.
6) Pour it in
Slowly pour the brine into the jar, until the radishes are completely covered. Pockets of air are likely trapped in there, so give the jar a little tap and wiggle to try to get them to come up. You can also use a wooden kraut pounder or tamper to press the radishes down and release some air.
7) Add a weight
Some of the radishes will try to float on the surface, but they do need to stay submerged below the brine level. If they’re allowed to float and be in contact with air, mold can develop! The stainless steel Kraut Source lids we use have a flat plate and spring inside that help to easily accomplish this, acting as a weight to keep everything down. Another option is to use a ceramic or glass weight made for fermenting. Some people get resourceful and use other clean items that fit inside their vessel, like a boiled rock or smaller glass jar.
Helpful tip: Even if you use a weight or Kraut Source device, sometimes pieces of chopped fermented radishes can still slip around them. To keep the floaters at bay, we often use a large leaf of cabbage, collard green, or other hearty green to make a “cap”. This is placed on top of the veggies, below the weight, and keeps them trapped below. It should also be submerged as much as possible. The Kraut Source does a great job keeping floaters down in pint and quart size jars, but we usually add a “cabbage cap” to the larger half-gallon batches.
Next, the jar or container you’re fermenting in needs to be covered with a tight fitting lid. The use of an air-lock lid made for fermenting is preferable. These allow for the release of any excess air and carbon dioxide that is produced during fermentation, without allowing new air or anything else to come in. This is one reason why we really love the Kraut Source lids! They not only have the spring and plate that keeps everything submerged, but also have a little moat on top that you fill with water, thus creating an air lock.
There are a lot of other mason jar fermentation lids out there too! Here are some silicone nipple type. These would need to be used in conjunction with a weight of some sort, like these glass ones. If you’re not using an air lock, you can tightly screw on a regular lid, but then make sure to quickly “burp” your jars every few days to release the built up carbon dioxide.
9) Ferment the Radishes!
Once it’s all put together, let your fermented radishes sit out at room temperature for 7-14 days to do its thang. The time depends on your personal flavor preference, and the temperature of your house. We let most of our ferments go for about 10-14 days. Warmer conditions will ferment things more quickly, and cooler does just the opposite. The ideal fermentation temperature is around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is summer time and your house is warmer than this, try to find a slightly cooler location for your vessel to hang out.
Notes during fermentation:
During fermentation, you will notice the fermented radishes start to undergo change. The lactobacillus is working away to convert the starches in the food into lactic acid, which preserves it. In the process, carbon dioxide is formed, so you’ll probably see some bubbling activity in there. The fermented radishes will also start to change color. If you used traditional red and white radishes, the color from their skins will start to bleed and dye everything a beautiful pink tone. The brine itself gets cloudy, and this is totally normal!
If you are using a Kraut Source lid, keep an eye on its little water-filled moat, making sure it always has some clean water in there. It doesn’t dry out easily though. On the other hand, our vessels usually overflow from the lid for the first several days of fermentation. Be forewarned that yours may do the same! So we alway set the jars on a plate or in a bowl to catch the overflow. Once that initial burst of activity subsides (about 5 days later), the moat can dry up and you’ll want to add more water into it.
Another thing you may notice during fermentation may be a slightly odd odor. This is totally normal! To be honest, some ferments can smell pretty farty. I promise they taste better than they smell!
When the time is up, remove the “cabbage cap” and air-lock lid, replace it with a regular lid, and move your finished ferment to the fridge. Most fermented foods are good for several months in the fridge, if not longer. We have enjoyed kraut nearly a year after it was made – though we usually eat it up quicker than that!
Now it is time to feed your belly with probiotic-rich home-fermented food! We love to use these fermented radishes as a salad topping, or on top of sauteed veggies with lentils. They could also be used in egg salad, like a pickle on an hor d’oeuvre plate with cheese and crackers, or just snacked on plain!
Don’t throw out that brine either! The liquid is also chock full of probiotics and beneficial enzymes, just waiting to make your belly happy. Did you know they actually sell leftover ferment brine, marketed as “gut shots”, at natural foods stores? And they aren’t cheap! We like to drizzle some on top of salads with olive oil as a dressing, or even take little shots of it straight!
Now you’re off!
Go make some insanely healthy fermented radishes of your own. Do not be nervous! If you follow these steps, it is really quite difficult to “mess up”. In all our years fermenting, we have NEVER had mold form in a fermenting vessel. Sure, we’ve made some kind of strange concoctions that we didn’t love as much as others, but have certainly never made ourselves sick. Feel free to ask me any questions!
Curious to learn more about why fermented foods are so great for your health? Check out this post that talks all about it!
Are you a visual learner? Check out this video tutorial I made a while back on Instagram. Click the arrows on the right to browse through the slides.
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Simple Fermented Dilly Radishes
- Fermenting vessel, such as a mason jar (pint, quart, or half-gallon)
- An all-in-one fermentation lid (such as a Kraut Source), or other fermenting weights and an air lock device
- 1 bunch organic radishes (for a quart jar batch), or as much as you need to completely fill your jar of any size
- 1 tbsp kosher or pickling sea salt (not iodized table salt) per 2 cups of water used
- 2 cups filtered water (per quart jar)
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and lightly crushed (per quart jar)
- Optional: black peppercorns, red chili flakes, fresh hot chili peppers – if you like them with a kick!
- Wash radishes. Cut away any tough portion near the stem.
- Cut the radishes into slices, approximately 1/8" thick
- In a clean jar or ferment vessel, place a small handful (few sprigs) of washed fresh dill in the bottom of the container. Add optional clove of garlic, pinch of peppercorns or chili flakes.
- Next, pack the sliced radishes into the container until completely full – minimizing empty air space as you go.
- On the stovetop on low heat, combine the called-for salt and filtered water to create a salt water brine. Heat only until salt dissolves. Do not add hot brine to the radishes! Allow to cool to room temperature/lukewarm as needed.
- Pour the brine into the ferment vessel or jar until the radishes are fully submerged. Carefully tap and wiggle the jar side to side to release any trapped air pockets.
- Next put a Kraut Source lid, or other fermentation weight and air lock lid on top of the jar. Everything needs to stay submerged below the brine!
- Allow the radishes to sit at room temperature to ferment for Fahrenheit for 7 to 14 days. The ideal fermentation temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees.
- If you are using a Kraut Source lid, watch the air-lock water "moat" in the lid to ensure it doesn't dry up. Refill with water if needed. Also, carefully remove the top cap of the lid and press the spring down to remove more air halfway through fermentation. Keep the container on a plate to catch overflowing brine.
- When the time is up, remove air lock lid and weights, cover the container with a standard lid, and store the finished fermented radishes in the refrigerator.
- Enjoy the fermented radishes for several months, or possibly up to a year. As long as they aren't moldy or obviously putrid, they're still good!