Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Preserving Floyd: Further Adventures in Fermenting - Daikon Radish

After the success of fermenting peppers for hot sauce I was emboldened to try another ferment.  A few weeks ago we received a large Daikon radish in the CSA box.  I like radishes, but Michael doesn't so I was left wondering what to do with this behemoth.  Especially since I have no experience with Daikon anyway.  Then I remembered hearing that fermented Daikon made a great condiment.  I found a recipe using ginger and off I went!

I scrubbed the Daikon radish really well but did not peel it.  Since this was a wild ferment I wanted the good bacteria on the radish to have priority.  I julienned it on the mandoline but you can slice it thin in any shape you want about 1/4" thick.

Next I peeled a 2 inch length of ginger that was somewhat larger around than my thumb and julienned that.  Again, you can slice it thin or grate it.

Finally, I thinly sliced half of a sweet red pepper (I used a Corno di Toro) to add color and peeled three cloves of garlic which I left whole.
I tossed all these ingredients together in a bowl and mixed them thoroughly. At this point you can also add any other spices or flavors that you like.  Peppercorns, fennel seeds, juniper berries, etc.  Whatever appeals to your imagination's culinary flavor combiner can be mixed in now.

Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of kosher or sea salt.  Don't use a salt that contains iodine because it will kill the lactobacillus bacteria and inhibit the ferment.  I used a nice minerally sea salt and worked the salt into the radish mixture with my hands.  This started to draw juices out of the vegetables.

Then I mixed 1 quart of unchlorinated water and 1 tablespoon of salt in a separate container.  Stir or shake until the salt is completely dissolved.  If your tap water is chlorinated, allow the water to sit out overnight in an open bowl to allow the chlorine to evaporate, or use a bottled water.  Chlorine can kill off the wee beasties you want to encourage.

I packed the grated radish mixture tightly into a 1 quart jar.  By this time the salt had released more than enough liquid to cover the veg.

I inserted the plastic disk to hold the veg under the liquid and then a former tiny pimento jar filled with some of the brine to weight that down.  You could use a zip lock sandwich bag filled with brine for this.

I had plenty of liquid from the veggies with out adding any of the prepared brine so I sealed the jar with a rubber gasket...

...and my cleverly McGyvered airlock lid (so not TM'd.  See how here.).

The complete set-up looks like this

I covered the jar with a towel and left it to sit on the counter for the next two weeks.  Depending on the temperatures in your house the veg may ferment to your liking in as little as 7-10 days.  Our house is a cool 68F so it was around 14 days or so until my preferred level of tanginess was achieved.  Generally, give the ferment about 7 days to work and then start tasting the veg every other day or so.  When your taste buds light up and you smile, that's when you know that your ferment is right for you and ready.  Mine was subtly tangy and gingery-spicy with a hint of garlic from the whole cloves.

I transferred the fermented radish mix into a jar just big enough to hold it all and stored it in the fridge.  The coldness of the refrigerator will bring the ferment to a near stop but you should release the cap every so often to allow any gas build-up to escape.

This will make a lovely condiment alongside Asian or Indian food.  And I'm thinking that, like sauerkraut, it's going to be great on pork.


  1. Sigh, I was into this until we got to those fancy gadgets. I have all the ingredients. I need to figure out how to finish the fermentation.

    Thanks for showing it to us. I may get inspired enough to get the airlock lid down.

    1. Hi Annie! That's my point- you don't need those fancy gadgets! Fermenting is probably the 2nd oldest method of preserving and they didn't do it with fancy gadgets. Get hold of a copy of Sandor Katz's "Wild Fermentation". All you need is a jar, a zip-lock bag, maybe a plate, salt and water. Take a look at the hot sauce post to see how I started that ferment with the stuff listed above!

    2. 1. the fancy gadget is an airlock and costs <$2 at any home brewing/wine making shop. Those shops will also probably carry grommets and/or corks.

      2. You can make an airlock with some plastic tubing (aquarium shop, hardware store, etc.). Just drill a hole in your lid (make sure the hole is just a tad smaller than your tubing so you'll have a nice airtight seal). Pull one end of the tubing through the hole and submerge the other end of the tubing in 2nd jar of water.

      3. Forget the hole airlock thing and simply "burp" your container every so often & skim off any white film that might form on the top.