Naturally Pickled, Lacto-Fermented Radishes

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Scraping the bottom of the jar. These naturally pickled radishes are that good. In about two weeks, we’ll be harvesting radishes from our garden and you know I’ll be making more. The brine — when beginning with red radishes — is just about the prettiest I’ve seen. And the nutrition? Can’t be beat.

Shannon of Nourishing Days is graciously allowing me to share with you this adaptation of her lacto-fermented radish recipe. You can find the original recipe in her Simple Food {for spring} cookbook. What I love about all Shannon’s cookbooks, is that she writes seasonal recipes that can be adapted to what you have on hand. That’s definitely how I like to cook!

Her recipes are simple and lovely — and delicious. The pickled radish recipe is a basic recipe, a formula. You can adapt it to your best-loved spices and herbs, and to seasonal ingredients. The following is my adaptation.

Naturally Pickled Radishes — Lacto-Fermented

  • 3 bunches of radishes, ends chopped off and cut into quarters
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1″ ginger, cut up into chunks
  • 1/4 cup whey, dripped out from plain yogurt or kefir with active cultures, or from raw cheesemaking
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 cup+ water (approximately)

Yield: 1 quart. Adapted from Simple Food {for spring} by Shannon Stonger of Nourishing Days.

Put all ingredients (except salt and water) in a clean wide-mouth quart size jar.

Dissolve the salt in a cup of water — if necessary heat it and then cool it. Pour over all ingredients. Add additional water to cover all ingredients, but keeping below 1” from jar rim. Use a clean regular mouth jar lid to weight down ingredients below surface of liquid (otherwise they like to float up to the top). Cover jar tightly.

Let ferment at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Taste to see where you like the texture and taste. Skim off any mold that accumulates on the surface. When done, transfer to the refrigerator or cool storage.

What are you harvesting this spring? Are you doing any natural pickling? What are some of your favorite spring foods to pickle?

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This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    I’m planting radishes this year for the first time, since I can’t seem to get enough of them! This really looks fantastic, and I can’t wait to try them. Thank you for sharing the recipe, and for info on the book!

  2. Megan says

    I was just looking at all our radishes thinking, “I would love to ferment these.” Thanks for the great recipe!

  3. says

    I was wondering about LF radishes. Glad to know they turned out so well. I think I’ll plant a few more squares of them knowing I can ferment them :-)

  4. Meredith says

    Hello Wardee,

    Thank you for this beautiful post! I just wanted to check – you mentioned using whey specifically from yogurt or cheesemaking. I have a lot of whey to use that is just from raw milk left out to separate. Should this be OK to use in this recipe (and others) or is it not the same. I just wanted to make sure before I make these :) Take care!!!

    • says

      Meredith — Yes, that whey is fine! As long as the dairy fermented somehow, the whey will have an active population of good bugs for the ferment. :)

  5. Barbara says

    Thanks, Wardee. I was wondering about using whey rather than so much salt. I thought I had read (from you) that you could use whey for most lacto-fermenting but hadn’t looked up that reference yet. Question: are you using the 1T salt for flavor only or to help the ferment/preservation? Thanks. Barbara

    • says

      Barbara — You can reduce the salt if using the whey, yes. In this recipe, that salt is a great deal for flavor. A salty brine is delish — and I’ve added it to salmon salad, salad dressings and other things for a pickly flavor. But I *think* it is salty enough that you could even halve the salt and still have enough flavor.

  6. Carolyn says

    This sounds just fantastic!! Not sure why I never thought of it. What are your thoughts on subbing mustard seed for the mustard powder?

    • says

      Carolyn — That would be great! People often put in whole seeds, but I like to crush mine (mustard, peppercorn, dill) to release more flavor into the brine.

  7. says

    Wardee – I will have to try your variation as soon as our radishes are ready to harvest. Thanks so much for your kind mention of the book!

  8. Colleen says

    I was just thinking of fermenting some radishes….but I don’t have any whey. I’m new to fermenting. Will it work okay using salt instead?

    • says

      Colleen — Yes, that will be fine! You’ll need to up the salt though. Make a brine of about 2 tablespoons of fine salt to 4 cups water. Let it cool and use that to cover your radish mixture.

  9. Tina Hale says

    I am new to all of this. I have a question about fermenting. Do you have to use whey? Why I ask, don’t know how to make. Also, if have to make from raw milk, having hard time finding.

    Thank you.

    • says

      Tina — No, you don’t have to use whey in veggie ferments. But the salt must be sufficient to prevent bad organisms from flourishing. So double up on the salt up there and you can skip the whey.

      Whey is pretty easy, though — drip plain yogurt or kefir with active cultures through a fine cheese cloth and what drips out is whey. :) The milk doesn’t have to be raw — but it must have been cultured with beneficial organisms and then not heated again to get good enough whey. You can also substitute water kefir for whey in lacto-fermenting.

      • Tina Hale says

        Thank you for replying. I’m still on just lesson 2 of your fundamentals course and I’m learning. Don’t really understand whey, kefir, etc, but I’ll get there. May GOD continue to bless you.

        • says

          Raminder — I would just leave out the whey. The Kombucha’s organisms produce different acids so while it would ferment, it wouldn’t necessarily be lacto-fermented. However, you could still do it!

  10. Sharmista says

    “Skim off any mold…”. Is it normal for mold to grow on fermented vegetables? My first try at sauerkraut had some mold around the edge on the top of the liquid and I got scared and tossed the whole thing!

    • says

      Sharmista — Yes, it is fairly normal, especially in warm temperatures. If the mold hasn’t gone throughout the ferment, it is usually fine.

  11. says

    Skimming mold is really not ok – it shoots deep tendrils deep into your food. Lactofermentation is by definition an anaerobic process – which means no air should be getting into your ferment. This does not mean a little air – but NO air. Mold is not an issue if you properly fermenting. I use the Pickl-it jar which is a closed air system – no mold or undesirable bacteria get in – plus you have an airlock so that the CO2 can be released. so no exploding or oozing jars either – really great affordable systems – I only teach using these now that I understand the biochemistry of lactofermentation.

    • Melissa says

      This is a limited way to think of fermenting. Cultures world wide have been fermenting for hundreds and thousands of years without those jars, and they were al a lot healthier than modern man. Loosen up a little. It sounds like you are an educator, but you should broaden your horizon and read the book “Wild Fermentation”. Cheers.

      • says

        Lots of cultures have used various methods of fermentation that suited their climates and seasons. For instance Koreans used crocks and buried them. The crocks had a lip and were buried underground which prevented oxygen from getting in. Also they tended to do Kimchi ferments in the colder fall and winter season. This is different from what so many are trying to do all year around or during hot seasons, which really can make it easy for mold to grow. Lisa is right that mold sends it spores spiraling far down into the product, which you can’t just scrape off.
        So if you can tolerate eating mold this will be fine, but if you can’t, then a true anaerobic system would be better. There are numerous inexpensive airlock lids out there as well as cheap ways to create a truly anaerobic ferment without spending too much. I did the mason jar thing for years never knowing why it made me slightly sick and often turned out viscous or slimy or moldy.

        With my airlock lids I get crunchy fermented vegetables, tasty pro-biotic brine that I often drink and I can let my ferments go long enough to develop all the vitamins, and pro-biotics they can. Some of my sauerkraut ferments go for 30 days without a speck of mold or any problems in the airlock jar.

        What we don’t know about how other cultures did things thousands of years ago is part of what we need to keep our minds open to. I think we have to realize we really don’t always know how to mimic thousand year old healthy results, or even if our results are truly healthy.

        Here’s and article that did some scientific experiments using different methods and then looking at how much pro-biotic activity was created in the food that was being fermented. I love this article and always refer people to it who need to understand what is desirable in a ferment. And believe me this gal tries every way of using jars and airlocks and crocks that we would use in modern times. She also tests the actual pro-biotic activity in these ferments which is the reason we’re all doing this-right? There are actually several articles about this but the one I’m linking to is her conclusions and recommendations.

  12. Angela says

    I just made these, well 3 days ago, and they are delicious!! I love the ginger/garlic flavors. This is my very first lacto-ferment and i am so glad they are a success. Our vegetable CSA is throwing a potluck party next weekend and I am definitely making some more of these to take.

  13. says

    Hi, This is my fist experiment with lacto-fermenting. I wasn’t quite sure on the whey so I just used plain yogurt that I made myself from goat milk. The thing that I am wondering is how do you know if they are good? When the 5 days were up I shook it up really good (because I thought I should mix the ingredients.) and when I opened it, it was like opening a soda can. A lot of air came bubbling up for a while. Does this mean it is bad? They have an….interesting flavor. They taste good, very sour-tartish, kind of like pickels? Is this how they should taste? Is it dangerous to eat if they are not “good.” (Like if bad bacteria grew in it?) Sorry for so many questions. Thanks so much for the recipes!

    • says

      Jennifer — It sounds like it is doing awesome! The bubbliness is just perfect, and the way you described the flavor is just great, too. You could ferment it longer if you wanted the beets to be softer. Enjoy!

  14. Sarah says

    I read in another post of yours that whey is optional in purely vegetable recipes. Can I omit the whey in this recipe? And do you think it would be okay if I used pint sized jars instead?

    • says

      Sarah — Yes, it is optional. This brine is salty enough to just leave it out. With lower salt recipes you’d want to increase the salt when omitting whey. The whey provides a starter culture and also increased acidity to assist a good fermentation. But it can be left out and the naturally present organisms will increase in numbers and do the fermenting.

  15. Andrea M. says

    I have had my eye on these for a while and just made them subbing some carrot coins for part of the radish since I only had one bunch. I also added a couple baby turnips I had. Can’t wait to try them! I like them sour though, so it will be a few days.

    • Andrea M. says

      Ooopsie. I usually weigh stuff down by inserting a gallon zip bag into the mouth of the jar and filling it with water so it pushes the solids down. My bag leaked and now my ferment is full of water. Do I leave it, of do I strain it and start over?

  16. Maribel Newton says

    Is this how they should taste? Barbara — You can reduce the salt if using the whey, yes. With lower salt recipes you’d want to increase the salt when omitting whey.

  17. says

    i’ve made these a couple of times–minus most of the spices, and inoculating the brine with some old, active sauerkraut juice instead of whey. delicious. i’ve started adding radishes to all my cruciferous mixes. thanks for the idea!

  18. Erika Burnett says

    I have fermented radishes several times in the past, as they are my daughter’s favorite! This time my brine turned syrupy, though, which I have never seen – do you think it could be off? It doesn’t smell terrible, but the brine is absolutely thick.

  19. cindi says

    I made these as my first-ever lacto-ferment and they are delicious! Thank you for the recipe!! ^_^

    I want to keep making more ferments, but don’t have much room in my fridge. My unfinished basement is cool, but it’s not below 65F….do you think my radishes might still be safe down there?

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