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Radish

The radish (Raphanus sativus) is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe in pre-Roman times. They are grown and consumed throughout the world. Radishes have numerous varieties, varying in size, color and duration of required cultivation time. There are some radishes that are grown for their seeds; oilseed radishes are grown, as the name implies, for oil production.

History
The descriptive Greek name of the genus Raphanus means "quickly appearing" and refers to the rapid germination of these plants. Raphanistrum from the same Greek root is an old name once used for this genus. The common name "radish" is derived from Latin (Radix = root).

Although the radish was a well-established crop in Hellenistic and Roman times, which leads to the assumption that it was brought into cultivation at an earlier time, Zohary and Hopf note that "there are almost no archeological records available" to help determine its earlier history and domestication. Wild forms of the radish and its relatives the mustards and turnip can be found over west Asia and Europe, suggesting that their domestication took place somewhere in that area. However Zohary and Hopf conclude, "Suggestions as to the origins of these plants are necessarily based on linguistic considerations."

Cultivation
Summer radishes mature rapidly, with many varieties germinating in 3–7 days, and reaching maturity in three to four weeks. A common garden crop in the U.S., the fast harvest cycle makes them a popular choice for children's gardens. Harvesting periods can be extended through repeated plantings, spaced a week or two apart.

Radishes grow best in full sun and light, sandy loams with pH 6.5–7.0.c They are in season from April to June and from October to January in most parts of North America; in Europe and Japan they are available year-round due to the plurality of varieties grown.
As with other root crops, tilling the soil helps the roots grow. However, radishes are used in no-till farming to help reverse compaction.

Most soil types will work, though sandy loams are particularly good for winter and spring crops, while soils that form a hard crust can impair growth. The depth at which seeds are planted affects the size of the root, from 0.4 inch deep recommended for small radishes to 1.6 inches for large radishes.

Varieties
Broadly speaking, radishes can be categorized into four main types (summer, fall, winter, and spring) and a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, such as red, pink, white, gray-black or yellow radishes, with round or elongated roots that can grow longer than a parsnip. There are red globe radish, black radish, daikon radish, white icicle radish, and California mammoth white radish.

Spring or summer radishes
Sometimes referred to as European radishes or spring radishes if they're planted in cooler weather, summer radishes are generally small and have a relatively short 3–4 week cultivation time.

The April Cross is a giant white radish hybrid that bolts very slowly.

Cherry Belle is a bright red-skinned round variety with a white interior. It is familiar in North American supermarkets.

Champion is round and red-skinned like the Cherry Belle, but with slightly larger roots, up to about 2 inches, and a milder flavor.

Red King has a mild flavor, with good resistance to club root, a problem that can arise from poor drainage.

Snow Belle is an all-white variety of radish, similar in shape to the Cherry Belle.

White Icicle or just Icicle is a white carrot-shaped variety, around 4 to 5 inches long, dating back to the 16th century. It slices easily, and has better than average resistance to pithiness.

French Breakfast is an elongated red-skinned radish with a white splash at the root end. It is typically slightly milder than other summer varieties, but is among the quickest to turn pithy.

Plum Purple a purple-fuchsia radish that tends to stay crisp longer than average.

Gala and Roodbol are two varieties popular in the Netherlands in a breakfast dish, thinly sliced on buttered bread.

Easter Egg is not an actual variety, but a mix of varieties with different skin colors, typically including white, pink, red, and purple radishes. Sold in markets or seed packets under the name, the seed mixes can extend harvesting duration from a single planting, as different varieties may mature at different times.

Winter varieties
Black Spanish or Black Spanish Round occur in both round and elongated forms, and are sometimes simply called the black radish or known by the French name Gros Noir d'Hiver. It dates in Europe to 1548, and was a common garden variety in England and France the early 19th century. It has a rough black skin with hot-flavored white flesh, is round or irregularly pear shaped, and grows to around 4 inches in diameter.

It refers to a wide variety of winter radishes from east Asia.  While the Japanese name daikon has been adopted in English, it is also sometimes called the Japanese radish, Chinese radish, or Oriental radish. In areas with a large South Asian population, it is marketed as moli. Daikon commonly have elongated white roots, although many varieties of daikon exist. One well known variety is April Cross, with smooth white roots. The New York Times describes Masato Red and Masato Green varieties as extremely long, well suited for fall planting and winter storage. The Sakurajima daikon is a hot-flavored variety which is typically grown to around 22 lbs., but which can grow to 66 lbs. when left in the ground.

Seed pod varieties
The seeds of radishes grow in siliques (widely referred to as "pods"), following flowering that happens when left to grow past their normal harvesting period. The seeds are edible, and are sometimes used as a crunchy, spicy addition to salads. Some varieties are grown specifically for their seeds or seed pods, rather than their roots. The Rat-tailed radish, an old European variety thought to have come from East Asia centuries ago, has long, thin, curly pods which can exceed 8 inches in length. In the 17th century, the pods were often pickled and served with meat. The München Bier variety supplies spicy seeds that are sometimes served raw as an accompaniment to beer in Germany.

Nutritional value
Radishes are rich in ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium. They are a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium. One cup of sliced red radish bulbs provides approximately 20 calories, largely from carbohydrates.

Uses: Cooking
The most commonly eaten portion is the napiform taproot, although the entire plant is edible and the tops can be used as a leaf vegetable.

The bulb of the radish is usually eaten raw, although tougher specimens can be steamed. The raw flesh has a crisp texture and a pungent, peppery flavor, caused by glucosinolates and the enzyme myrosinase which combine when chewed to form allyl isothiocyanates, also present in mustard, horseradish, and wasabi.

Radishes are used in salads, as well as in many European dishes.

Culture
Citizens of Oaxaca, Mexico celebrate the radish in a festival called Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) on December 23 as a part of Christmas La Navidad celebrations. Locals carve religious and popular figures out of radishes and display them in the town square.

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