Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Eat Serpent Radish Seed Pods!

Raphanus caudatus, foliis pinn... Digital ID: 1130503. New York Public LibraryI was looking up "new vegetable" in the 19th century documents for fun and this popped up.  It actually sounds like something that would be a standard for anyone liking salads and stir frys.

Looking it up in modern references to see if it is still around and worth eating I found the Missouri Botanical Garden gave it the thumbs up!

New and Delicious Vegetable.
This valuable new vegetable belongs to the Radish tribe, but unlike that esculent, the seed pods (not the root) are eaten; these are very curious, attaining an immense size in a wonderfully short time. sometimes growing as much as three inches in a night. It is native of Java, where it is known under the name of Mougri, and is much used in some parts of India  for salading, &c. 
It has been introduced into England from Saharunpore, and although coming from so warm a country it succeeds admirably in the open ground, and can be easily cultivated in any ordinary garden, which has been fully proved during the past year.   It can be sown in the open air or sill pots and then transferred to the ground, and will grow in almost any soil, care being taken that the plants stand two to three feet apart to allow room for the growth of the pods. No artificial heat is necessary in raising the seed. This vegetable can be used in various ways; indeed it may be regarded as one of the most useful that have been introduced for many years.
 The seed, when sown easily vegetates. and in about eight weeks the plants flower profusely and then produce extraordinary siliquas( pods) which are very remarkable from their attaining the enormous length of about two feet. These pods have a most agreeable flavor, and when about half grown can be eaten in the same way as roots of the common Radish, which they greatly resemble in taste. but are far superior in delicacy of flavor; in salads they will be highly estimated. for added to their other merits. the possess the excellent advantage of being easily digested; they also make a good pickle, for which purpose they are well adapted. 
It is, however, when the pods are boiled that they are most delicious eating. like marrow, and having a very delicate flavor; they should be served on toast, and will form a most agreeable addition and novelty for the table. When the plants are tied upright they have a very singular appearance, for each plant produces from 15 to 20 pods, some hanging quite straight, others twisted or whirled into fantastic shapes. 
This Radish received a first class certificate, the highest award that could be made to a new vegetable, at the celebrated International Horticultural Exhibition held in London last Spring. It must be observed that the pods. either cooked or uncooked, should be eaten “when about half grown; if allowed to attain full size they become stringy and tough, and like Peas, Beans, or any other vegetables too old, worthless. 
The seeds of this remarkable and interesting new vegetable are now being supplied in small quantities at 25 cents per packet. 

Descriptive Catalogue of a Choice Collection of Vegetable,
 Agricultural and Flower Seeds  - B. K. Bliss & Sons, 1869

One of the first seed sellers I found was