Pickled Radishes


It always curious to me, when I see “French breakfast radishes” in the states. I know that’s the name for them, according to seed packets and so forth. Or perhaps it’s just in my particular circles. But I’ve never seen anyone offer – or even eat – French ‘breakfast’ radishes for breakfast in France.

Still, the French do eat a lot of radishes. (In fact, they were one of the first things I wrote about on the site after I arrived in Paris.) And with good reason: their radishes are excellent. And because radishes are so popular, they’re often sold in bunches of two at a slightly more attractive price than if you were to buy just one. Radishes in France are often two-toned numbers, glowing red at the stem end, and ruddy white by the thread-like roots.

french radishes

French people also eat black radishes, which are soot-black, but when sliced opened, resemble daikon radishes with a crunchier taste. I recently found these long red radishes at the market and picked up a bunch, but when I got them home, I found them a little bland and slightly woody. (Which might explain why you usually only see the ‘French Breakfast’ kinds here.) So I thought they might be good candidates for pickling.


Because the peels were a little ruddy, I gave them a quick skinning, which revealed a lovely neon-pink hue just under the skin. They take just a few minutes to make, and after just one day in the refrigerator, I was eating freshly made pickles.

pickled radishes

Pickled radishes are unlikely to replace cornichons as the most popular pickle in France with a sandwich. But they’re great alongside a fatty hunk of French pâté, or slivered and strewn over a steaming bowl of Korean Bibimbap for lunch or dinner. But probably not for breakfast.

jambon sandwich

Picked Radishes

One pint jar

Interestingly, I did an online search to find out what kind of radishes these were – as I was certain inquiring minds might want to know – and the best term I came up with was “long red radishes.” It seems like there are quite a few varieties of long red radishes. I wouldn’t get my knickers in a knot over what type of radish to use – round, daikon, or another long radish would work.

If you use regular round radishes, there’s no need to peel them. Although be sure to wash them well, since they can be sandy. I didn’t add herbs to this batch, but you can pack in a bay leaf, some tarragon, or a few sprigs of fresh dill in the jar before closing it up.

  • 1 bunch or 4 long radishes (about 1-pound, 400 g of radishes)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • optional: 1 chile pepper, split lengthwise

1. If using long radishes, peel them. Trim off the leaves and roots and slice thickly (as shown.)

2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar or honey to a boil, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the peppercorns, garlic and chile, if using.

3. Pack the radishes in a clean pint-sized jar, and pour the hot liquid over them, adding the garlic and chile into the jar as well.

4. Cover and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Storage: The radishes will be ready to eat after 24 hours. During storage, the liquid will turn a nice rosy color and flavors -such as garlic and hot peppers – will get stronger. The radishes can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Related Recipes

Pickled Peppers

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Carrots

Roasted Radishes (White On Rice Couple)

Pesto with Radish Greens (Delicious Days)

Radish Leaf Pesto (Chocolate & Zucchini)

Radish Leaf Soup (Vegan Visitor)

Butter-Braised Radishes with Snow Peas (Rhulman)

Radish Salad with Anchovy Sauce (Food 52)

Kosher Dill Pickles

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  • June2
    April 19, 2012 9:40am

    Wonder what picked apples would taste like. Am going to try it.

  • April 19, 2012 9:55am

    What about no vinegar and keeping the water cool to dissolve the salt. Keep them longer in the jar, like 3 to 4 days, and you have much healthier radishes with more enzymes and vitamins. I love picked vegetables and I am discovering them. I started with carrots so I am sure the radishes will be great for pickling.

  • April 19, 2012 10:42am

    I could eat the mini radis round the clock, though these do look delish and pickles seem to be IN to hear my niece, the chef, talk…
    I’m strictly in the Jewish half-done cuc club since my dad home-made them in the basement…

  • April 19, 2012 10:44am

    I feel like Epaminondas with his auntie – after the event (I found v similar radishes in a rural French market just before Easter) and having treated them far less elegantly, you have given me the wherewithal to pickle them – I had not thought to do that. Called ‘les radis roses de Pâques’ by our market lady (but she may well have made that name up) – it would have been lovely to have been able to preserve a few for future use, they looked so beautiful; now I will have just have to wait until next year.

    • April 19, 2012 10:49am
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Erica: Actually what are called “French breakfast radishes” are probably not the best candidates for pickling (unless you have a bumper crop!) because they are so good raw, dipped in a bit of salt with perhaps a tiny smear of butter, enjoyed as the French do.

      I would use larger globe radishes for these, or long ones. And interesting that they were called “Easter radishes” when you came across them in France : )

  • April 19, 2012 10:51am

    Perfect! I have been searching for recipes to preserve the radishes that are sprouting up in my garden. Thanks!

  • Anna Worthington
    April 19, 2012 12:13pm

    Hi David, not one to usually comment, but reading this post brought back a memory of one of my first food experiences in the south of France…my host dad (a farmer/winemaker) making what can only be described as a radish sandwich. A chunk of salty butter between two slices of radish. ‘The only way to eat radish’ I was told (and I didn’t need to be told twice.)

  • Charlotte
    April 19, 2012 12:49pm

    My local seed catalogue describes the French Breakfast Radish as being eaten at as part of a ‘second breakfast’ common in some parts of rural France. This might well just be bucolic advertising copy.

  • April 19, 2012 1:16pm

    These look excellent. My wife, who is a gardener, always accuses me of stealing the radishes from the ground before she can get to them. Well, this year I’ll be more patient. One of my goals for the summer is to learn how to can in more than the muddling way I have in the past. And this is looking like project number one when that happens.

    Great post!

  • April 19, 2012 3:32pm

    Good for one month, huh? What happens to them after that? Would they be extremely dangerous to eat (I’m thinking botulism here)?

    For about food hazards in pickling; EUFIC and HFP websites.

  • April 19, 2012 4:04pm

    I found these yesterday in the plant section at my local Whole Foods (“whole paycheck”) market in Las Vegas. They were labeled as “french breakfast” and looked more like a sweet potato.Funny how they didn’t look anything like the “french breakfast radishes” in the produce section. Now I know what to do with them.

  • Rosemary
    April 19, 2012 4:32pm

    Thanks! Love radishes, but never thought to pickle them, yum. I’ve steamed them a couple times and that’s pretty good too with butter, salt and pepper. It makes them somewhat milder so maybe they’d be better for breakfast that way.

  • Ninabi
    April 19, 2012 4:51pm

    Perfect timing with your post- we just received a large bag of fresh radishes in our CSA box, far too many for slicing and serving in salads. This recipe will be used this afternoon- thank you.

  • Cardie
    April 19, 2012 4:54pm

    Your post was so timely! I am pulling a whole bed of French Breakfast Radishes and could have not been able to eat them all raw….I’m going to pickle and put in a forthcoming fundraiser – the Renegade Bake Sale- for a bill that is supporting the California Homemade Food Act (started by a member of the Los Angeles Bread Bakers)

  • April 19, 2012 5:05pm

    Ah, radishes! I was never big on them until I came to Paris and French hubby complained each time I bought them I wasn’t serving them correctly: it’s almost like a ceremony with good butter, salt and plenty fresh baguettes. Jarring them this way is something I’ll need to try carefully, as don’t want to be pickled myself! French Breakfast Radishes are definitely new on my US vocab, merci David.

  • April 19, 2012 5:10pm

    Never thought of pickled radishes; in any case I buy lots and lots of them (even now in April, they are deliriously delicious…) but they get eaten in absolutely no time so I wouldn’t know WHEN to pickle them… :)
    Lovely article – thanks as ever

  • April 19, 2012 5:19pm

    Hi David!!

    I’ve been on a pickling “tear” lately – been making all kinds of pickles and was thinking of making some radish ones so your post couldn’t have come at a better time!!

  • April 19, 2012 5:55pm

    I love radishes! And fresh radish open sandwich is my summer favorite (bread, butter, slices of radishes, black pepper and coarse salt).
    When my radishes are woody I just throw them in the trash or compost. And those long red radishes often are not so good, unless very young. I never tried to pickle radishes, but that sounds like another idea.
    I agree with texmex that cooled marinade is much better in this case. Hot marinades are used in pickling for sterilizing and for longer storage of preserves. If you will finish radishes during a week it’s not necessary at all. And you will get much more good stuff from your food.
    Also, I would put less vinegar and adjust salt. The best ratio I used is 2 Tbsp coarse salt (like Kosher) to 1 liter of water (about 5 cups). Another tip: add some oak bark or leaves (if you are as lucky as I am to have a huge oak in the yard) in your marinade – and the vegetables will retain their crunchiness.
    Sorry for a long comment – just couldn’t help… :)

    • April 19, 2012 6:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      I thought about cooling the marinade a bit. But the larger radishes, I think, are tougher and I thought they could use a bit of softening. I suppose if you used tender radishes, it’s not really necessary to use a hot mixture- but that’s what I did in this case.

      Vinegars can really differ in strength and taste and sometimes I use a higher ratio of water to vinegar. (Folks coul also vary the vinegar, depending on what’s available.) Interesting about the oak leaves or bark. I’ve heard the same thing about grape leaves and tried them once in a batch of pickles but didn’t notice any difference.

  • April 19, 2012 6:01pm

    Hi David: I am new to your blog (can you believe it took me this long to find you?) and have been spending way too much time reading you. My question is, how do the French radishes differ in taste (or do they) from regular American fat, squat ones. Also, to make them last longer, could you can them in a boiling water bath? I love, love, love your blog, but the comments are also so much fun. You have great readers. As a fairly new blogger, you are my model and on my IACP profile I listed you as my fantasy dinner partner.

  • April 19, 2012 6:22pm

    Interesting. I’ve always liked radishes, as a child in Iran they were usually in our “herb-sabzi plate” (fresh parsley, tarragon, mint etc..) at most meals, including breakfast. But this pickle reminds me of the quick turnip pickles syrians eat–usually they add a slice of raw beet to make it pretty and pink.

  • April 19, 2012 6:47pm

    Hi David,

    Have you experimented with radish leaves? They are apparently extremely edible. A French friend of mine is always raving about a simple soup made of vegetable stock and radish leaves. I have been meaning to try it, unless you have any other suggestions!

  • April 19, 2012 7:12pm

    I bought a bunch of these long red radishes at the market on Tuesday and was looking forward to eating them plain or in a salad, but then had the same experience you did, bland and woody and even a bit too bitter for my taste. The rest of the bunch is wallowing away in the crisper drawer until I can figure out what to do with them. The timing of this post is perfect, pickled radishes it is. Looking forward to a similar looking sandwich this weekend.

  • Zee
    April 19, 2012 7:17pm

    Hi David,
    Do you know how to make the bright yellow pickled daikon used in Hawaiian and other Asian food? I’ve never found any for sale that wasn’t loaded with chemicals, wondering how to do it more naturally.

  • April 19, 2012 7:22pm

    Thanks for a great recipe. I can’t wait to try it out this weekend.

  • June2
    April 19, 2012 7:40pm

    One year for Christmas I gave my family jars of homemade pickles from the sweetest tiny organic baby turnips, grown locally, and they all looked at me like I was an alien. I was crushed, but their expressions of genuine bewilderment were too funny to keep me down for long.

  • April 19, 2012 8:31pm

    I love anything pickled. Except eggs… I grew up in a town that was huge on pickled eggs and sold them in a massive jar on the counters of shops. Next to the sour candies. It just kind of freaked me out. Maybe there is a more refined way to go about eating it, but I don’t know…

  • Carolyn Z
    April 19, 2012 9:09pm

    This seems like a good recipe. I’m lazy so I use seasoned rice vinegar to pickle radishes. Bigger ones get cut up. Mom used to use takuan (daikon slices) marinade to pickle red radishes. Maui onion marinade also works well. Recycling marinades that are already seasoned.

  • Helen Indelicato
    April 19, 2012 10:15pm

    David, had the strangest thing happen. I made your lamington recipe. For some unexplained reason I grabbed a glass pan. When the cake was done the entire bottom of the cake was like the rubber they put on a roof. Thick and yellow, never seen anything like and I’ve been a home baker a long time. Was it the glass and high temperature that caused this. I’m assuming it was the eggs. Helen

  • Cyndy
    April 19, 2012 11:58pm

    We were blown away by France’s red and white, sweet radishes when living in Paris. On top of baguette, with that lovely butter with the chunks of salt in it… Holy smokes. I don’t understand why these haven’t migrated to the states, at least, not in our Midwest. Is it a terroir thing?

    I gather from comments here that they can be grown from seed. Does anyone have a source in the States? I’d try this in a heartbeat.

  • April 20, 2012 12:02am

    I have only eaten pickled radishes once a long time ago in Japan. I really want to try pickling them myself.

  • Sarah
    April 20, 2012 12:10am

    Never met a pickle I didn’t like! Ok, I know that’s a big opening….

    My favorite vinegar is a white balsamic by trader joe’s- it is sweet and tart and without being too sour. It makes great “Danish ” pickled cukes in an overnight soak.

    I am excited to try it with a spicy radish!!

  • April 20, 2012 12:19am

    You’ve totally inspired me! I saw some big, beautiful radishes at the farmers market yesterday. I looked at them, trying to think of what to do with them. Your post is right on time. I’m going back first thing in the morning, coming home and pickling.

  • April 20, 2012 1:43am

    Delighful! I never ate radishes growing up (my mom doesn’t like them), so I’ve been intrigued to start using them in cooking now. I will definitely try this recipe!

  • April 20, 2012 3:11am

    Last year I pickled my first mango, this year it will be the lovely radish. :)

  • GB
    April 20, 2012 3:21am

    My mother always ate radish and butter sandwiches while I was growing up on the south side of Chicago. I adore French Breakfast Radishes and when available at local Farmers’ Mkt, you need to get there early.

  • April 20, 2012 3:44am

    shucks. I had the most delicious little picture in my mind of a French breakfast. . . buttered bread, French breakfast radishes, salt, . . . what else? Surely something delectable.

    I came across those soot-black radishes in my market last week. I bought one. We ate it grated in salads. We were not fans. Actually, I’m not crazy about the French breakfast radishes either because they’re so mild. I like a little bite.

  • fishsticksforme
    April 20, 2012 4:01am

    David, do we get to see photos of your new digs?

  • Sheila
    April 20, 2012 6:44am

    Now that’s a “stache!
    Getting so antsy waiting to see your kitchen and apartment!

  • April 20, 2012 7:11am

    When I was little, my Mom would buy radishes very often and serve them grated mixed ith cream cheese as a spread on a freshly baked bread. We loved it! I would be very interested in pickling them, especially if there is garlic involved. :) Thank you for the recipe!

  • April 20, 2012 8:29am
    David Lebovitz

    Thrift at Home: I like black radishes, since they’re like daikon (which I like, too) but with a crisper texture. But in general, I buy the regular red & white radishes for snacking.

    Sheila: So am I!

    Sarah: You can certainly play around with different vinegars when pickling. However one should make sure the acidity is sufficient if you’re going to store or can them for any length of time.

    Helen: You may have overmixed the batter, causing it to collapse. It should come out as shown in the photo at the Lamington post. I don’t use glass pans for baking much but it should work in various types of pans.

    Helen S: Thanks! : ) I’ve not canned radishes before but you can find some information on canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, which is a good resource for canning tips. French radishes are milder than the big, red radishes one comes across. And they’re softer, too, which means they’re not great candidates for pickling, but are good eaten just as is.

  • April 20, 2012 11:37am

    I think they were called this way because in the country, perhaps a century and a half ago, people ate all sorts of stuff for breakfast, accompanied by wine too!

    Haven’t read all the other comments so maybe someone contradocted this or came up with some other idea about the name.

  • April 20, 2012 4:56pm

    I remembered some other things we did when pickling vegetables and mushrooms to retain the texture and crunchiness: besides oak, you can also add black currant and cherry leaves to a marinade (even tops of young branches). Not only will it add tannic substances, but also a lot of flavor.
    When pickling wild mushrooms, we also used horseradish leaves so the mushrooms are not soggy. Never heard that grape leaves do the same.

    Cannot wait for fresh radishes crops this year. :)

  • Tags
    April 20, 2012 5:30pm

    From Eugene Walter’s “hints & pinches” –

    If you are very wise, you’ll let a whole bed of them go to seed and gather the green pods (rather like mustard pods) and pickle them. This is one of the most delicious pickles on earth.

    (“them” refers to radishes, of course) It’s time to lean on your country gardener friends.

  • Velops
    April 20, 2012 9:57pm

    This reminds me of how Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches aren’t complete without pickled daikon & carrot julienne.

  • April 21, 2012 12:48am

    The sandwich in the photograph looks perfect and tasty – If only I could find one of those in the states. I’m definitely going to follow your pickled radish recipe – there are all sorts of items I have been meaning to pickle and I’m running low on excuses now. Thanks for a great idea!

  • April 21, 2012 1:20am

    I wonder how you might go about shipping these and would they go bad?

  • April 21, 2012 2:40am

    Yummo! I just love your photos.

    Btw, I baked, fell in love with, and blogged about Flo Braker’s Pains D’Amande Cookies. AMAZING!!! If you’re so inclined, I love if you stopped by to have a look at my latest blog post.

  • Ruth L
    April 21, 2012 2:18pm

    Hi from a long-time reader but a first-time poster. It’s the humble radish that brought me out of the woodwork.

    I made a batch of these pickles yesterday using a combo of mostly French breakfast types with some round red ones thrown in to fill out the jar. Although of the snacking variety, all the radishes were on the large and spicy side. As soon as I poured in the brine, the whole contents turned bright red, like strawberry soda. So pretty on the windowsill. Today’s lunch was ham and cheese on baguette with a layer of radish pickles. Oh, and butter of course. Fab!

    Note to Cyndy: most seed catalogs in the States offer French Breakfast radishes. One line of off-the-rack seed packets that surely has them is Renee’s Garden, which you can find at good garden stores.

    Thanks for the great blog, David.

  • April 21, 2012 6:42pm

    I love pickled radishes, but I’ve never made them with radishes that look this beautiful before. I’m going to have to be on the lookout for radishes like these.

  • April 23, 2012 3:10pm

    Hehe, I love the last pic, of with Romain’s serious face in the background – as a food blogger with a long-suffering partner, I know that face all too well!

    xox Sarah

  • April 23, 2012 3:16pm

    I have just developed a craving for radishes….

  • April 23, 2012 5:20pm

    Oh what I would do to have a bite if that magnificence he’s holding. Wow.

  • April 24, 2012 2:43am

    I love love love a good radish but I’m sometimes nervous to buy them- I hate accidentally bringing home the ones that don’t taste as fresh as I’d hoped. But to pickle the disappointments- what a perfect idea! I know what I’ll be doing this weekend! I love stopping by to see what you’re up to- – always such a good inspiration.

    And PS, that is one badass ‘stache.

  • Ubr
    April 27, 2012 8:42am

    Thanks for the idea! I like radishes when they young and fresh, but those are not available any season. Will try to pickle ones that are overgrown or not so fresh.

  • Zan
    May 1, 2012 4:37am

    I’m sorry if I’m dense but I don’t understand the radish to liquid ratio. If you’re using a pint jar and 2 cups of liquid, you must not be using all of the liquid after you pack radishes in the jar. Am I missing something?

  • Nil Zed
    May 1, 2012 7:36am

    at least some of the liquid will have cooked away during the boiling. and better a bit leftover than not having quite enough.

  • Zan
    May 1, 2012 11:13pm

    Thanks Nil Zed. I just wanted to make sure to have enough liquid in the jar after packing the radishes to ensure pickling. I made some last night will try them tonight; can’t wait.

  • May 4, 2012 12:00am

    A friend of mine told me about her recent stay in the hospital where a lot of the workers were immigrants with just the worst stories about getting ditched by their husbands, defrauded by their own people, reamed by their own kids. My friend learned from one Russian woman that if you hollow out a radish and fill it with honey and leave it overnight on a radiator, it was a cure for something, she (my friend) just couldn’t remember what. Turns out some people say tuberculosis, and the Internet says “whatever ails you.”
    So i’ve been thinking about how the hell you hollow out a tiny little red radish, and then i found the black ones at the market yesterday.

    I made one radish into a honey ailment cure, and two types of pickled radishes, chili with cardamom, and tarragon green garlic. It’s now been 24 hours and they’re mostly gone…