Spring Tonic—Radish Fennel Ferment

Radish Fennel Ferment

     I wanted to come up with a recipe that welcomed Spring.  I desired a flavor that was cool and crisp just like the season. I fancied a ferment that was light—both in taste and in color. I imagined a pastel-colored ferment to compliment the light pink and white blossoms of early spring.

     I wanted to use radishes for two reasons. The first is that red radishes are quick growing in cool temperatures. They are one earliest available local vegetables in a temperate climate. The second is that radishes are a food we should be eating to help our bodies come out of winter. In Traditional Chinese Medicine radishes are a wonderful tonic for the liver and gall bladder. Radishes break up fat and phlegm, and regulate bile flow—in a sense consuming radishes get your juices going.

     I decided to keep this ferment unpretentious. I chose fresh fennel to combine with the radish. I thought the light aromatic flavor would compliment the more watery, spicy radish. Nutritionally, I also knew that fennel is great for digestion. Fennel is also rich in vitamin K2 which works in the circulation system by breaking up "debris" in blood vessels. Vitamin K2 is also important in your diet if you are taking oral vitamin D. Here is a link for more information on fennel and fermentation.

      This ferment is very simple. You can start it today and in 3 or 4 days you can enjoy it. It is tasty sprinkled on a green salad or along side protein rick foods such as hard-boiled eggs.

Makes 1 pint

1 bunch small radishes, such as Cherry Belle or French Breakfast

1 medium fresh fennel bulb

1 ½ teaspoons salt

     Remove the stems and wash the radishes. Slice very thin, using the slicing blade on a hand grater or food processor. Place in a bowl. Cut the thick root end off the fennel bulb and also slice it as thinly as possible. Put this in the bowl with the radishes.  Chop any fennel frond and put it into the bowl as well. Save the thick fennel stocks for something else. Add the salt slowly. Massage it in and taste after about half the salt has been added. Keep adding the salt until you just taste it. You should be able to taste the salt, but the salt should not dominate the flavor.

     It will produce enough brine without much time or effort.  Press the mixture in a quart jar. Weight it down, making sure all the vegetables are under the brine. Allow to ripen for 3 – 4 days in a cool out of the way spot on your counter.