Radish Varieties & History

Long radishes were once all the rage.  Why have a small ball type radish when you could grow three times the mass in the same surface area?  It wasn’t until the late 1930s and early 1940s that ball or globe radishes became popular.

Radishes have been around for thousands of years, shape is generally the guide for classifying radishes. Globular, oval, turnip-shaped, oblong and long are the most common groupings. Growing in many forms and used in all sorts of culinary creations worldwide.

Nutritional Value of Radishes: Low in calories, a three ounce serving contains about 18 calories. A source of vitamin C, radishes contain active enzymes that aid digestion. The nutritious leaves are rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and iron. 

How to Use Radishes: Diced, sliced or slivered, raw radishes add crispy texture to salads and relishes. For an unusual side dish, top with cream sauce. Add flavor to soups, stews and stir-fries. Grill, bake, broil or boil. To use as a condiment, grate on a cheese grater. Radishes mellow of any bitterness when cooked or roasted.

How to Store Radishes: To store, refrigerate in a sealed container or plastic bag to maintain high humidity.

French Breakfast Radish
French Breakfast Radish

French Breakfast Radish was first mentioned by B.K. Bliss and son of New York in 1870.  French Breakfast is an oblong radish that grows 1 1/2 to 2 inches, scarlet up top in color with a bright white tip.  Sweet, tender and mild.   Perfect for salads.

1884 D.M. Ferry Seed Catalog says about French Breakfast Radish….
“A medium sized radish, olive shaped, small top, of quick growth, very crisp and tender, of a beautiful scarlet color, except near the root, which is pure white.  A splendid variety for the table, not only on account of its excellent qualities, but for its beautiful color.”

Purple Plum Radish
Purple Plum Radish

Purple Plum Radish is a French heirloom isn’t seen very often in the United States but those who have seen and tasted it, will always grow some of these each season! One of the most colorful radish varieties available, these are perfect for home gardens, farmers markets, and roadside stands. Small, round globes are a bright purple with white interior flesh that is sweet, crunchy, and never pithy.

Pink Beauty Radish
Pink Beauty Radish

Pink Beauty is an eye-catching, top-quality radish.   Beautiful round pink radish that has become hard to find. It is sweet and tasty. Popular at specialty markets, a must for all radish growers! Wonderful and unique.  Pink Beauty Radish not only provides elegance to the salad plate, owing to its rich color, but is also a great source of vitamin C.

White Icicle Radish
White Icicle Radish

White Icicle Radish was also know as “Icicle” or “Pearl Forcing” radish.  Was called “new” in Maule’s 1903 seed catalog.  White Icicle radishes have pure white flesh with a spice that warms the tongue, but doesn’t bite back.  Old seed catalogs say it was sweet and mild in flavor.  You be the judge.  The roots are 5-6″s long, tapered and about an 1″ in diameter.

1924 Portland Seed Co. Catalog says about White Icicle Radish…
“This superb radish is the finest and longest of the very early, pure white varieties.  Planted in the spring, is ready for use in 20 to 25 days; their long, slender form and pure, paper-white skin are most attractive when bunched for market.  This radish is not only crisp and tender when young but also retains these qualities until the roots attain large size; is excellently adapted for forcing purposes or successive sowing in open ground and gives a continuous supply of tender, crisp radishes for the table or market throughout the season.”

white hailstone radish
White Hailstone Radish

White Hailstone Radish has also been know in the past as White Button Radish or

hailstone radish

White Globe Radish.  It is pure snow white in color.  A real stand out in salads bowls and a favorite for generations. Hailstone radish is very mild, crisp and maintain there firm flesh even when stir fried.

1903 J. Manns Seed Co. catalog says about Large White Box radish seed….”An excellent spring and summer variety for market.  Roots two inches in diameter; skin smooth, creamy white, with crisp, mild flesh.  Will stand for some little time after reaching full size without becoming pithy or running to seed.”

black spanish radish
Black Spanish Radish

Black Spanish Radish – The black radish is also known as Gros Noir d’Hiver, Noir Gros de Paris and the Black Mooli. Encased in a black or dull brown skin.  Depending upon the specific variety the black radish can be round or cylindrical and elongated. Its flesh is crisp, white and slightly bitter and offers a hot radishy bite. The skin of the black radish is particularly piquant, for a milder radish flavor peel black radishes prior to serving.  The black radish was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean and is believed to be a relative of the wild radish. An ancient vegetable, radishes were grown in Egypt before the pyramids were built, remains of them have been found in excavations.  In the 19th century they were a popular variety of radish in England and France.

Helios Radish

This bright yellow, olive-shaped radish is truly one of the most beautiful and tasty radishes I’ve ever grown–sweet and mild. This heirloom came from Alzbeta Kovacova-Pecarova of Kosice, Czechoslovakia.  A lovely, golden skinned radish named after the Greek god of the Sun. The white flesh contrasts with the yellow skin for a delightful, somewhat pungent, spring harvest. Yellow skinned radishes have been listed in seed catalogs, off and on, for centuries.


Munchener Bier Radish
Munchener Bier Radish

A famous German heirloom radish that is popular in much of northern Europe; 4-inch white roots have a pungent, crisp flesh that is sliced onto bread or served with pretzels. It also produces tender seed pods that are tasty pickled or added to salads.  Germans traditionally serve these mildly pungent large white tapered roots sliced thin and salted to go down with their brew, but the radishes are equally good sautéed and then salted.