You can eat all portions of the yearly Daikon radish (Raphanus sativus var. Longipinnatus) and they are delicious. Although many Americans are accustomed to eating just the origins of smaller radishes in salads or as garnish, Asians eat Daikon leaves, commonly referred to as greens, in soups and pickled as in the Korean favorite, kimchi.
The White Daikon
The white, cylindrical Daikon cultivar usually found in American supermarkets is also referred to as the Chinese radish, Japanese radish, Oriental radish and winter radish. Although the word “Daikon” means “great root” in Japanese, the mild, white cultivar originated in continental Asia. It grows up to 20 inches long and 4 inches wide at maturity, weighing from 1 to 2 lbs. You can eat its greens, however, some other Daikon cultivars have more leaves and smaller roots.
Other Daikon Cultivars
Many Daikon radish cultivars grow from 10 to 20 lbs at maturity, though they are typically harvested at 1 to 5 lbs. Some specimens have weighed around 100 lbs. Daikon cultivars might be round, and have black, black, pink, purple or red flesh. Some varieties are grown for their edible greens as opposed to their origins. You might find seeds for soluble varieties in seed catalogs.
Eating The Leaves
Daikon leaves grow in rosettes in addition to the roots. Should you remove the leaves from the plant, the roots will die so you have to harvest them in precisely the same moment. Young leaves are more tender and mild than mature leaves. Many grocers don’t understand Daikon greens are edible and remove them prior to displaying the roots. Some grocers shop the greens in back for people who request them. If they are available, start looking for bright green, fresh leaves and avoid the ones that are wilted or starting to yellow.
Growing Good Leaves
Daikons are winter annuals. Should you plant them in September through October, then they will be prepared to eat in 60 to 70 days. You can plant them in early spring to get a early summer crop, but the leaves will taste hotter. Store both the leaves and roots in the refrigerator over the short term. For periods up to several month, store them in a root cellar or other cool location.