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The Helios radish is capped with leafy green tops with purple streaked mid ribs. The bulb has a creamy tan to yellow exterior skin and a crisp white interior flesh. Helios radishes are best when harvested young while the bulbs are mild, sweet and juicy. They can develop a slightly woody texture and become overly spicy when fully mature.
The Helios radish may be found year-round with a peak season in the spring and summer months.
The Helios radish is a variety of Raphanus sativus that is named after the Greek god of the sun because of its pale yellow color. It is a cruciferous root vegetable in the Brassicaceae family along with turnips, cabbage, and horseradish. Unlike red radishes which can develop very spicy or bitter flavors under warm conditions yellow skinned radishes such as the Helios are known for their ability to be successfully grown in warmer climates.
Helios radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C with both the root and the greens offering a significant amount. Additionally, they offer a high content of water, potassium, vitamin B6, iron and folic acid.
Radishes can be utilized in both cooked and raw applications. Sliced radish can be added to sandwiches, salads, tacos and wraps. Served whole they make an excellent appetizer or side dish when paired with soft cheeses, whipped butter or creamy dips. Additionally, sliced thin they can be served classically atop toast or crackers smeared with cream cheese or butter. Helios radishes can also be roasted or braised which will enhance the naturally sweet flavor of the radish. To store, Helios radishes should be kept refrigerated and used within two weeks for optimum texture and flavor.
The Helios radish is believed to be the same variety or, at least, a very close relative of the “small early yellow turnip radish” mentioned in Vilmorin’s The Vegetable Garden dating back to 1885.
Radish known by the name Helios is believed to have come from seed saver and heirloom yellow radish collector Alzbeta Kovacova-Pecarova of Kosice, Czechoslovakia. Yellow radish varieties are documented as early as the 1700s and are thought to have gotten their unique coloring from a genetic mutation. They are simply put; genetically the same makeup as a red radish with a few missing genes. Yellow radishes first appeared in America as early as the 1800’s and sustained popularity in seeds catalogs as a result of their ability to be successfully grown in warmer climates than their red counterparts. Their flavor, however, paled in comparison to the red, and it was not until the latter half of the nineteenth century that improved varieties with a more delicate texture and mild flavor would enter the marketplace.