Monday, February 9, 2015

Expanding the Pantry Menu: the Humble Daikon Radish

Good morning! Or afternoon or evening, as the case may be.

As y'all know, I love to cook. Things like having a decent recipe collection for meals made from my preps and gardens are important to me, mainly because while, yes, I can eat pork and beans, mushroom zucchini rice patties and ramen noodles for days on end.... trust me, that gets old really quickly and I start to want some variety. Not to mention the hell that repetitious food will play on my system in terms of nutrition! Yes, I'd be getting calories...but I'd be still be slowly starving to death. Humans must have meals that meet their vitamin needs.

Variety improves everything when it comes to meals. Even something as simple as fresh-sliced red and green bell peppers as a side dish can really brighten things up.
Now in case you missed the news, we here at Casa Hively-Zinn are finally able to move out of California. Part of our goal is to use up as many of our canned goods as possible before moving (that stuff is heavy!). This means that you guys get lots and lots of ideas for making preps more edible and less like dungeon meals.

Now, I know you're wondering about the title at this point. I want to introduce y'all to the Daikon Radish! If you haven't heard of it before, lovers of Asian cuisine have been nomming on this awesome root vegetable for years.

"Daikon.Japan" by Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Daikon are cheaper than spaghetti squashes, and their flavor works with any meat, cucumbers, tomatoes etc.  They take to being used in soups and salads like a dream, and also work great as a gluten-free noodle replacement.

I repeat, a no-gluten noodle. I'm just going to let that sink in for a moment.

How easy it to turn into noodles? 

Take a peeler and start shaving off noodles.

No, REALLY, it's that simple. You can eat them raw, soak them in salt water for about 15 minutes, or boil them up. Now, boiling does cause a radish-like smell; however, they don't taste radishy (it's a word, roll with it!). If you boil them, cook them until they are translucent and then it's nom time! It only takes about ten minutes at a low boil.

I'm going to lay some daikon information on y'all, and I want you to pay close attention, especially those of you who are putting in the work to have, grow and maintain gardens.

Daikon's nutritional value

My source is Nutrition Data for Self.  These guys have damn near everything you could ask for, if you want to know the values of something. I suggest adding these guys to your bookmarks.

Daikon (raw) has the following when you are working off a 7-inch piece of the root:
  • 60 calories 
  • 74.4 mg of Vitamin C. If you convert that into a percentage based off that Daily Value chart of 2000 calories a day, that 124% of your daily value. So if you're in an area that isn't very friendly to growing citrus, you've an alternative in this radish for fending off scurvy. 
  • Calcium is 9% Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
  • Iron is 8% RDA.
  • Magnesium is 14% RDA.
  • B-complex Vitamins (2-3 of them) are about 10% RDA.
  • 2 grams of protein. This is a very important point if you are a vegetarian, because you will need to make up for protein sources more than someone who eats meat like I do. (Though if you manage never to touch meat in a SHTF situation of a week or more in length, my hat is off to you.)

Growing daikon

This root crop prefers cooler climates, so this is a great crop for for folks in Alaska and Canada because it's ready for harvest in 60-70 days. If I recall correctly, that fits into your growing window up there.

They can be grown in containers, so long as you give a deep one. The green parts up top can grow up to three feet tall. 

Now, they say these radishes are mature at 8 inches long... well, in the stores around here it's not uncommon to find them selling daikon that are in excess of two to three feet long. You can find yourself eating one root for a few days to a week, depending upon how big of a meal you want to make from it.
How do you store daikon?

Like you would store any other root crop, you want a dark, cool place, like a root cellar or basement. 

(Sources are Hobby Farms and Back Door Harvest.)

That's all you need to know.  Dig in! 

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