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How to Eat Radish Seed Pods: Pickle Them!

Young radish seed pods

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 simply forget about in the shadow of other plants.

So it’s always a good surprise when I find a tangled mess of vines like this in the garden and they end up being over-ripened radish plants — plants that had grown over 4 feet tall, full of little white blossoms and slender green pods.

Flowering radish plants

At this stage, most people consider the plants done for the season. The radishes themselves have grown too woody or fibrous to eat, and the leaves have withered or become damaged by aphids and other pests.

But gardeners in the know, know that this isn’t the end of the plants. Far from it.

Those pointy green seed pods are actually a last hurrah from the radish plant, a harvest well worth the wait because the pods are so uniquely delicious.

You read that right: you can eat radish seed pods.

Read more: 11 Vegetables You Grow That You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

Young, tender radish seed pods

What do radish seeds look like?

Radish seeds form inside thin, elongated pods on tall, upright stems that reach 4 to 5 feet. A single flower stalk can produce several dozen seed pods in various stages of maturity, so it doesn’t take very many radish plants to yield a sizable harvest of pods.

Each radish pod is 1 to 2 inches in length with a narrow cylindrical shape that tapers to a point.

If you leave the pods to ripen on the stems (a few weeks after they appear), they’ll dry up, turn yellow or brown, and split open to reveal tiny black or brown seeds.

Related: How to Save and Store Seeds For Next Year’s Garden

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A long stem of radish seed pods

What types of radish plants produce edible seed pods?

All radish plants form edible seed pods (even wild radishes, if you come across them on a hike), 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 radishes — from the hefty watermelon radishes and Japanese daikons of winter to the popular and petite French Breakfast and Easter Egg Blend varieties of spring — flower at the end of the season, and they produced delicious pods for weeks.

Radish seed pods and white blossoms

How long does it take for radishes to seed?

Radishes sown from spring to summer will flower from mid-summer to fall. In mild winter climates, radishes can be sown in fall for an early spring harvest — after which the plants will bolt and produce seed pods in late spring.

The crisp green pods appear a few weeks after the radishes are past their picking prime, so if you sowed more radishes than you can eat, you’re assured of a bonus crop at the end of the season.

By collecting and eating the seed pods, you can stretch the harvest period for radishes much longer than usual. Think of it as no-waste gardening!

Radish seed pod harvest

How do you harvest radish seed pods?

Gather the pods when they’re still fresh and green, but after the seeds inside start developing. The radish pods will bulge a bit (kind of like pea pods) and grow fleshier, which makes for better eating.

You can hand-pick pods in the garden by pulling them off the stems, or cut off the entire stalk to harvest the pods in your kitchen.

Most stalks will have radish pods in all stages of maturity, and personally, I only go for ones that are well-formed, as they pack in more flavor.

Slender green seed pods on a radish plant

What do radish seed pods taste like?

Radish pods taste just like the radishes they spawn from, but more concentrated in flavor. They’re spicy and crunchy and are best eaten raw, either straight off the stem or pickled in a jar.

Seed pods from winter radishes tend to be milder in flavor than seed pods from spring and summer radishes, but their texture is the same — crisp and not stringy at all.

Sometimes I snip off the tip if it’s particularly long and pointy, but the entire pod is edible.

Read next: Winter Radishes vs. Spring Radishes: What’s the Difference?

Pickled radish seed pods

What do you do with radish seed pods?

Radish pods can be used anywhere you’d normally use radishes: leafy salads, taco toppings, pitas and wraps.

But my favorite way to eat them is to pickle them first. 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 chop up a handful of pickled radish pods to use like capers in an omelet or noodle bowl, or skewer them on a toothpick to garnish a bloody mary and add a peppery bite.

Try this: Quick Pickled Sweet ‘n Spicy Radishes

Make a few jars of radish seed pickles to have on hand as last-minute gifts and potluck contributions — 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!

This recipe is a favorite from The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook. Have you checked out my latest book? I have more recipes for radishes, radish leaves, and the tops and tails of many ordinary vegetables that become extraordinary once you realize what you can actually use from them.

Quick pickled sweet 'n spicy radish seed pods

Pickled Radish Seed Pods

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients

1 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
2 heaping cups radish seed pods

Instructions

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, rice vinegar, wine vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until the grains are dissolved. Let the brine cool to room temperature.

Pack the radish pods into jars and pour the brine over them, making sure the pods are fully submerged.

Pickle at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for at least 4 hours before serving. For best flavor, pickle overnight in the fridge.

When you’re done with the pickles: What to Do With Leftover Pickle Brine

Yield: 3 cups

Pickled Radish Seed Pods

Pickled radish seed pods

Just because your radish plants have started flowering doesn't mean they're done for the season. Harvest the green seed pods (yes, they're edible!) and pickle them for one last hurrah from your crop.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 heaping cups radish seed pods

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, rice vinegar, wine vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until the grains are dissolved. Let the brine cool to room temperature.
  2. Pack the radish pods into jars and pour the brine over them, making sure the pods are fully submerged.
  3. Pickle at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for at least 4 hours before serving. For best flavor, pickle overnight in the fridge.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 546mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on April 22, 2013.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

58 Comments

  • Adil
    November 15, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    How do you prepare the soil for radish seeds, and in the UK the weather is psychotic. My garden soil looks nothing like soil, it’s rocky, stony and my previous radish harvest was ruined by bugs, leaf eaters etc. I didn’t feel like eating it.

    Reply
  • Las Recetas Fáciles de María
    November 15, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    He visto esta planta que no conocía y tu receta, al encontrarla me ha encantado gracias por la información

    Reply
  • Amber Maitland
    November 15, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Have you tried bok choi or tatsoi pods? I have both bolting in my garden and I’m eyeing them up for fermentation.

    Reply
  • Anna H. (Anima Mundi)
    May 28, 2017 at 6:30 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Linda Ly of Garden Betty
      June 5, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • Sandra
    October 24, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • Silly Little Sheep
    August 30, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    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 🙂

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      September 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  • Linda Ly
    July 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    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. 🙁

    Reply
  • Steve
    October 22, 2014 at 5:08 am

    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.

    Reply
  • thefolia
    August 22, 2014 at 10:31 pm

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

    Reply
  • ginger & honey
    July 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm

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

    Reply
  • Reelthing
    June 29, 2014 at 8:05 am

    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

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      July 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm

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

      Reply
  • Carolyn Valdez
    May 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      May 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Yes, I pickle mustard greens through a very easy fermentation process in this recipe: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/06/vietnamese-pickled-mustard-greens-cai-chua/

      Reply
      • Carolyn Valdez
        May 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

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

        Reply
        • Linda Ly
          May 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm

          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.

          Reply
          • Lee Hyde
            July 6, 2015 at 11:09 am

            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.

  • da324
    January 22, 2014 at 10:13 am

    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!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      January 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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

      Reply
      • da324
        February 7, 2014 at 9:07 am

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

        Reply
        • Becky
          June 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

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

          Reply
  • Jen in Boise
    July 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    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!

    Reply
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