A root vegetable related to the turnip and horseradish family, with a sooty dull black exterior that covers a white, crisp inner flesh providing a peppery hot flavor. The intensity of this radish can vary from mildly hot to very pungent and somewhat bitter, depending on the age and size, tasting somewhat like horseradish. The Black radish can be either round or elongated in shape. As a round radish, it can grow from two to six inches in diameter. There are two main categories of radishes, either the spring or winter radishes, based on the time when they are harvested. Spring radishes, which mature quickly, are harvested early in their growing season resulting in a smaller radish. The winter radishes, which grow slowly, are harvested later in their growth and result in a larger round or more elongated-shaped vegetable. Winter radishes tend to have a milder, more delicate peppery flavor, however the Black radish can be very strong and pungent. This radish may be cooked like a turnip, creamed and served as a side dish, sautéed and braised to be served as a vegetable dish, or added to stir fry dishes. The skin is generally removed prior to preparing. It can also be served raw to be used as hors d'oeuvres, as a complement to salads and sandwiches or diced for use in soups and stews. If the pungency is too strong, it can be reduced by salting and washing the radish to draw out the peppery flavor, by steaming the radish for 5 to 10 minutes, or by baking the radish with other vegetables.
When selecting, choose radishes that are firm, crisp, and without blemishes. Radishes grown and harvested when temperatures remain hot develop an increased bitterness. Store without the leafy tops and place in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic to keep fresh for several weeks. Turnips can be a good substitute for a Black radish if the recipe does not require the earthy, peppery flavor of the Black variety. This radish is also referred to as a Spanish Black radish.