Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Late Fall - Early Winter Veggies

Daikon Radish
(Photo by Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons)
While the first hard frosts and freezes of fall this year were nearly two months ago, I still have vegetables going strong in the garden. I just picked some more daikon radishes. I think I will have to make some quick pickles with them - they are so good! Here is a basic recipe for takuan which is a Japanese-styled quick pickle made with daikon. I tend to adjust quick pickle recipes to my own taste, sometimes adding more or less of an ingredient and other times adding others.

Pickled Daikon Radish 
1/4 C. rice wine vinegar
1/2 C. sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 medium daikon, cut into bite-sized slices
Bring first three ingredients to a boil to dissolve salt and sugar. Allow to cool slightly, and pour over sliced daikon. Store in refrigerator for up to 4 days. Make a day head for best flavor.

I've added minced fresh red hot chili pepper, black sesame seeds, other veggies, or whatever else suits me at the time. The first time making a new quick pickle recipe, I would suggest to make a small batch exactly per the recipe. After than, have fun. Adjust the ingredients and seasonings plus you can add or substitute other veggies. With white veggies like daikon and turnips, the red of the hot chili is a stunning color combination. And yes, this recipe is good with Japanese white turnips too. Be sure to add a small bit of the turnip greens for color and a bit of mustard bite. 

Note, I often like using mirin, a sweet cooking rice wine, instead of sugar for quick pickles. No boiling is needed to dissolve the sugar and it has a different character and flavor than white sugar.

Speaking of still growing in the garden....My garden also still has mustard, radishes, kale, broccoli, and some other scattered veggies still going strong after cold weather including snow. The snow peas gave up a few weeks back and so did the favas when we had a couple of days very bitter weather with 20 degree F nights. With a bit of planning and mid to late summer planting, you can extend out your fresh vegetable season to late fall - early winter. Something to consider in your planning for next year's veggie garden.