Fighting Fear with Pickles

Watermelon radish slicesI can’t remember exactly when I first heard about watermelon radishes. But I know that I first tried them because of my CSA. They showed up in one of my Mystery Boxes two years ago. Watermelon radishes are an heirloom varietal from the daikon family. In an old Chinese-American dialect they are called shinrimei, which translates to “beauty in the heart.” Considering the gorgeous pink-to-magenta interior, this rather non-descript white, bulbous radish most definitely has a beautiful heart.

When I first tried these radishes, I did as I do with most radishes and sliced them for salads. They were gorgeous additions which greatly improved the look of my salads. But, I didn’t try anything else with them until last month. The farm where I get my produce was offering them in bulk, so I decided to get some and experiment with pickling. I tried three different recipes. One was a complete failure. One was good, but better suited to the Japanese Green Heart radish. And one was perfect for the mild and beautiful watermelon radishes.

Learning about new foods, new cuisines and new cooking techniques is breaking me out of my fixed mind-set and pushing me into the growth mind-set. I have been telling myself for decades that I need to write. I have had many friends and acquaintances over the years tell me I need to write. I am so consumed by food and all things “foodie,” that my friends and colleagues were telling me I need to start a blog. This went on for years, until finally last year I pushed through my fear of failure and started this blog. I have had fits and starts. I have stumbled along the way, and I slipped back into that mentality of “if I don’t try, I can’t fail.”

Watermelon RadishesBut, what keeps pushing me forward is food. I am fearless in the kitchen. I have no hesitation with trying something new or playing with different ideas. If what I try fails, I have still learned. Yes, there are times when I feel guilty if I have to throw out a failed experiment because it seems such a waste of food, but that doesn’t stop me from trying again. Truthfully I will often still eat those failed dishes because I don’t want to waste food. Case in point: last week I was making turnip chips – quite a few turned black because I left them in the oven too long (I was watching Jaws and got distracted). I just added a little sriracha aioli, poured another glass of wine and dinner was served!

If I am so fearless and comfortable in the kitchen, why can’t I be like that in all other areas of my life? Food, again, has become my salvation. The lessons I learn in my kitchen are pivotal for everything else in my life. I need to live all parts of my life like I live in the kitchen. I’m going to try new things. I’m going to experiment. And most importantly I am not going to let the fear of failure stop me from . . . anything.

019Watermelon Radish Pickles

This recipe makes approximately 5 pint jars
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups white wine vinegar
1 cup champagne vinegar
½ cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-2 pounds watermelon radishes

In a sauce pan bring water, vinegars, sugar and salt to boil. Boil a few minutes until sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Allow the brine to completely cool.

Thinly slice watermelon radishes. I used a mandolin and sliced 2.0mm thick then cut in half to make half-moon shapes, which fit the jars better.

Put radishes in jars, firmly packing them down, until they reach the shoulder of the jars. Poor cooled brine into jars. Tap the jars lightly on the counter to ensure air bubbles are released. You might have to top off the jars a time or two as the brine fills the air pockets. You want the brine to be just at the shoulder of the jars, not all the way to the top. If any radish slices rise up, find something to put in the jars to keep them submerged completely. I have some large marbles that I put in on top of the radish slices and then seal in the jar. Put radishes in the refrigerator and leave alone for 2 days. After two days you can eat. If you have placed something in the jar to hold the slices down you can remove it, as the radish slices will stay submerged once they are pickled.

Watermelon Radish picklesThese pickles not only have a great flavor, they are pretty too. The pink heart of the radish bleeds out its color, making the brine and the pickles all pink. The mild sweet-tart taste make these pickles great for salads, sandwiches, even just eating by themselves, which I must say I do quite often.

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