Young radish seed pods
Fermenting & Pickling, Garden of Eatin', Recipes, Seeds & Seedlings, You Can Eat That?!

Radish Seed Pods (and Some Pickles)

Every season, I let a few of my radish plants flower and seed. Some I leave to collect seed for next season, and some I leave to harvest the pods. Amid this tangled mess of vines is a handful of daikon radish plants — plants that had grown over 4 feet tall, full of little white blossoms and slender green pods.

Flowering radish plants

The green pods appear a few weeks after the radishes are past their picking prime.

Radish seed pods and white blossoms

Slender green seed pods on a radish plant

A long stem of radish seed pods

They form on long, skinny stems alongside white or lavender flowers and if you leave them to mature, they’ll dry up and drop seed.

But harvest them while they’re young, and they become a bonus crop even when the roots are no longer edible. Radish pods taste just like the radishes they spawn from, but more concentrated in flavor. They’re spicy and crunchy and full of snacky goodness, and you can use them anywhere you’d normally use radishes.

Young, tender radish seed pods

Radish seed pod harvest

All radish plants form edible seed pods, and there is even an heirloom variety called Rat’s Tail radish grown specifically for its large, tender seed pods. But I’ve let all types of radish — from Miyashige daikon to French Breakfast — flower at the end of the season, and they produced delicious pods for weeks. Sow seeds in the spring to harvest pods into fall, and for mild climates, sow seeds again in fall to harvest pods in the spring. Each plant yields dozens of pods — more than enough to toss into a salad or stir-fry.

My favorite way to eat them is to pickle them first. I use this quick pickled sweet ‘n spicy radish recipe to put up an entire harvest. They taste amazing on their own, and even more amazing as a side dish to a bed of rice and some grilled meats. You can even chop them up to use like capers in an omelette, or skewer them on a toothpick to garnish a bloody mary.

Pickled radish seed pods

Quick pickled sweet 'n spicy radish seed pods

These pretty jars of pickled radish pods also make great hostess and housewarming gifts — nobody ever knows what they are, and I love explaining how the entire radish plant (from the roots to the greens to the seeds) is edible!

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  • Anna H. (Anima Mundi)

    I’m a cooked radish freak ever since a farmer’s market vendor recommended sauteeing roots and greens. Best. Greens. Ever. So I planted a whole bunch late, here in the South. They’re starting to bolt – I had no idea radish flowers were so pretty. Now I have the pods to look forward to, yay. I’m betting that cooking woody roots will still soften and sweeten them.

    • Cooking woody roots is hit or miss. Sometimes the root is far too fibrous to be enjoyable, but sometimes you get lucky. I have a recipe for sauteed radish and radish greens with farro in my book, The CSA Cookbook! One of my favorite ways to use both in one dish.

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  • Sandra

    I usually eat the flowers in my salads. They also taste like radish. They can even have quite a bite to them. I’ll be sure to let some grow into pods this spring. Pickled pods sound interesting. Thanks.

  • Silly Little Sheep

    This year I had some really weird radishes which did not form round juicy roots, instead they just thickened a bit and became very woody and not edible. So I left them and now they have lots of really juicy pods! I have never eaten them before and they are delicious! However, I would say that their flavour is much milder than that of a root. I will definitely be harvesting later this year and for many next years to come! Your pictures are lovely, by the way. Happy gardening 🙂

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  • A little tip for using up all those pods: pickle them and give away to friends! They make a great hostess gift. I can fill several quart jars from a small row of plants.

    This year, unfortunately, birds raided my radish pods before I could harvest them all. 🙁

  • Steve

    A way to enjoy tender you radishes and still get nice seed pods is to harvest the young radishes as usual. Eat the radish and the leaves if you want but when you slice the top off the radish make a fairly deep cut. Then take that top slice and replant it. You won’t get another radish but the top will grow if you keep the soil moist. And if there’s till enough time in the season, you’ll end up with a bunch of leaves and seed pods to use as you wish.

    This works with all root crops that I know of; rutabagas, turnips, carrots. Onions are the opposite. Instead of replanting the top, make sure you cut deep enough to get all the root when you cut it out and replant it. You can do this with either the tops or bottoms of scads of plants; celery, etc.

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  • Fascinating…can’t wait to experiment with my radishes in the garden…happy gardening!

  • ginger & honey

    Genius!! I think our big batch might finally be ready for a taste test

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  • Reelthing

    If I want the pods for seed when do I pick it? – after it browns a little or wait until it’s about to drop? thanks

    • For seeds, wait until the pods are completely brown and dried. They’ll look like they’re ready to split open.

  • Carolyn Valdez

    Wonderful – a few of my radishes this year bolted, so I’ll do this. Have you ever tried this with cruciferous veggies (I also have brussels sprouts and cabbage bolting 🙁 ) ? Thanks!

    • Yes, I pickle mustard greens through a very easy fermentation process in this recipe:

      • Carolyn Valdez

        Oh I wasn’t clear sorry – I meant the pods of other veggies. It seems like it’d be the same as radishes?

        • Yep, the same. 🙂 I’ve eaten the seed pods from some of my mustard plants. Depending on the variety, they can be quite bitter though.

          • The seed pods of rocket/arugula are also extra peppery. I different flavour to radish and the the brassicas (whose sprouts/micro-greens are all quite hot if I recall, even broccoli!) and the pods aren’t quite as large or (perhaps) tender. They’re definitely edible though and I’ve often wondered if the dried seed would make a serviceable spice and/or alternative to peppercorns.

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  • da324

    Hi Linda,
    I’m new to gardening. I planted radishes, but they didn’t produce. I think I planted them to shallow, because the purple part that’s usually the radish was above the dirt. So, I found this forum and decided to let them grow. Well, they’ve been growing for two months, but there’s no pods on them. Just lush green plants about 2 feet tall. Any idea what’s going on? Thanks!

    • Radish plants are biennials, so they form seed pods in their second season.

      • da324

        Thanks, I’ll keep watering them as they look very healthy..

        • Becky

          In the Midwest, I’ve had them produce little to no root If the temps vary wildly, particularly if it gets hot.

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  • Jen in Boise

    I plant 2-3 icicle radish seeds in with my squash and melon plants as it deters the squash bugs. I let them flower and seed, too! I was wondering what to do with the pods and saw your blog. Awesome article and the pics are fabulous! Thank you!

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  • Aparna

    I need some advice please. I have sown carrot, radish and beet seeds in pots. Can I transplant them in the ground?

    • It depends on how large the seedlings are. I’d wait until they have a couple sets of true leaves before putting them in the ground. For carrots, I’d transplant them when they’re about 3-4 inches tall.

      • Aparna

        Thank you 🙂

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  • Michaelsphere

    Garden Betty: Three questions. First, are the full pods edible or just their contents? Second, what do you stir fry them with? Third, may I share an excerpt of this on my blog “Soil and Solidarity”? I love your blog and would love to direct folks to it … also, I think more people need to know about radish pods! Thanks. Michael

    • Yes, the whole pod is edible. You can stir-fry them the way you’d stir-fry any vegetable; I like to do a little oil, garlic, onion as a base, then add radish seed pods and whatever I have in the fridge… mushrooms, bell peppers, squash, etc… some spices, maybe top off with noodles.

      For your blog, please write your own intro and then link directly to this post, as I don’t allow my content to be copied. Thank you!

  • Mist

    Interesting! I’ve never left radishes in the ground long enough to let them fruit but I may have to give it a whirl next time. I had seen the rat’s tail before but hadn’t been enticed to try it until now.

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