Wonderful Watermelon Radish
Kaua’i Kunana Dairy is a certified organic farm that utilizes 30 acres. In Waipake, 3 acres are dedicated to fruit, vegetables and beehives, and 10 acres are used for goat pasture. In Moloa’a, there’s another 10 acres that are used for goat pasture, and fruit and vegetables are grown on 6.5 acres. A community supported agriculture (CSA) program is being launched, where members pick up weekly boxes of fresh, organic produce and have the option to add cheese, eggs, honey and many of their other offerings.
As Kaua’i’s only commercial dairy, the farm produces artisan feta and seven flavors of goat cheese year-round. This summer, a variety of chili peppers are abundant in their gardens, and the Wootons are using them in their Pepper Jacques goat cheese.
What’s growing now: Apple banana, avocado, basil (Italian, purple, Thai, cinnamon and sacred), beets, breadfruit, chard, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, collard greens, eggfruit, eggplant, eggs, fresh-eating turnips, grapefruit, Hawaiian chili peppers, honey, kale, Lisbon lemon, longan, lychee, Malabar spinach, mango, mountain apple, noni, okra, oranges, papaya, parsley, pomelo, purple kaimito, purple passionfruit, radish, romaine lettuce, salad mix, soursop, sweet corn, Tahitian seedless lime, tamarind, tangelo, tangerine.
Radishes, first domesticated in the Mediterranean about 2,100 years ago, are available in a spectrum of colors, shapes and sizes – from the familiar crimson ball shape to tapered red roots with white tips and long, cream-colored daikon, or round radish in white, black, purple, pink or light green.
Watermelon radish is featured in this month’s Bon Appetit magazine as the icon of an emerging vegetable revolution, where chefs make produce the center of a meal. Averaging 3 inches in diameter, bold colors make a beautiful presentation as the creamy white outside fades into a central burst of magenta. Not as spicy as a typical radish, the flesh is crispy and mild with a sweet flavor perfect for salads, garnishes or cooking.
Season: On the Mainland, there are two basic types of radish: spring and winter. On Kaua’i, radishes can be grown year-round. Most varieties take just three weeks to go from seed to table, but the watermelon radish takes two months.
What to look for: Avoid radishes that are flaccid and limp.
Storage: Keep them well-wrapped in the refrigerator to conserve moisture and crispness.
Preparation: Radishes have more culinary uses than most people realize. Sprouts (known as kaiware in Japan) make a bright, spicy garnish. Radish greens cook in little time and make a nice soup. Raw, new, tender leaves make a peppery addition to salads of herbs and mixed greens. Shred young radish and mix with soft butter, lemon zest, their slivered greens and sea salt for a spread.
Braising in water or stock, with butter, herbs and perhaps other vegetables causes their color to fade and turns spicy ones mild. Try them, as Bon Appetit recommends, by roasting in butter until they are soft and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Good radish combinations include bread, butter and salt; thyme, sea salt and smoked salt; rice vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds, or tossed in soy sauce.
Tip: Large radishes with cracks and fissures are likely to be hot and tough.
Health benefits: Radishes are a great low-calorie snack; 1 cup of sliced radishes has only 19 calories. Radish is used for stomach and intestinal disorders, bile duct problems, loss of appetite, pain and swelling (inflammation) of the mouth and throat, tendency toward infections, inflammation or excessive mucus of the respiratory tract, bronchitis, fever, colds and cough. Radish root may stimulate digestive juices and bile flow and may fight bacteria and other microorganisms.
Kaua’i Kunana Dairy products can be found at: Farmers Markets: Koloa (Monday, noon-1 p.m.), Waipa (Tuesdays, 1:30-4:30 p.m); Kapaa (Wednesdays, 3-4:30 p.m.), Kaua’i Community College (Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.); Namahana (Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Hanalei (Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.-noon) For more information, call 651-5046 or visit KauaiKunanaDairy.com.
Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.