How to make radishes cry

Radishes are a bounty of nutrients  and health-supporting compounds (vitamin C in red skin, selenium, folic acid, iron, phosphorus), and the stereotypical red variety requires very little space, time and effort to grow and harvest.  It is a shame that, in NY at least, they are often passed over in the supermarket.  The main reason that I did not choose radishes when I was less food-conscious is that I found their sharpness overwhelming.

Isothiocyanates are responsible for the acridness of radishes, mustard plants, wasabi and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.  They are plant defense compounds, and since they can also harm the plant, they are only created when the plant’s cells are damaged.  The isothiocyanate precursor, which is allyl glucosinolate (aka mustard oil glycoside) in radishes, and the catalyst for its hydrolysis to the isothiocyanate, myrosinase, are stored in separate but adjacent cells [Periodicum biologorum; Vol.110 No.4 01/2008].  When the cells are damaged via bites or cuts into tissue, the precursor and myrosinase combine and react.

While isothiocyanates are beneficial in disrupting bacterial, fungal and cancer cells {This link leads to a website provided by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Karlium is not affiliated or endorsed by the Linus Pauling Institute or Oregon State University.} in the body, a concentrated amount can also damage body cells.  In addition, the allyl isothiocyanate (aka sinigrin, mustard oil component) produced by radishes is volatile, so the compound released after biting into a radish can react with your eyes and make you cry, even if the pain in your mouth doesn’t.

One way of reducing the sharpness of radishes is to make it ‘cry’ (before it makes you cry).  I haven’t seen this being done in NY, but it seems to be common practice in Germany, particularly Bavaria (Bayern), where people eat radishes very often.

How to make radishes cry:

  1. Slice radishes into disks.
  2. Mix with table salt.  Let sit for 10 mins.
  3. Drain resulting liquid produced from radishes.
  4. Eat without anxiety.


This is my new favorite way of preparing radishes.  It is also a good way of preserving  most of the beneficial compounds, since cooking degrades many vitamins and antioxidants.

The biophysochemical explanation for the milder flavor of a ‘weinender Rettich‘ (weeping radish) is that the salt draws out the water stored in the vacuoles of the plant cells (plasmolysis).  Since a glucosinolate is an anion stored in vacuoles, it is likely pulled out of the cells along with the water (I haven’t confirmed this).

Bonus tip:  The allyl thiocyanate in radishes may help reduce bad breath.

Disclaimer:  This post and blog fall under the heading ‘Personal Experiences’ and is meant to interest, educate and inspire.  All information and instruction is given without the intent to harm or control the reader in any way.




Raw garlic repels real-life vampires

Normally, when I contract a cold, it takes about a week to get over the symptoms (runny nose, exhaustion, etc.) and then, on top of that, I need time to build up my energy and get back into the swing of things.

This time, I tried chewing on raw garlic each morning.  I had to share the result, because it was close to magical; I was back to myself after only a few days!

I’ve always been a fan of garlic in my food and I knew, from Mom, that garlic was good for you, but I didn’t know that it had such healing properties.  It has been shown that garlic can shorten the duration of the common cold.

I eat garlic every day, so why is raw garlic different?  Well, cooked garlic does not have much of the active antimicrobial ingredient that raw garlic and certain garlic supplements contain.  This compound is allicin, or diallylthiosulfinate, which is a small organosulfur compound that can penetrate bacterial cell walls and membranes and then react with thiols, such as cysteine residues, glutathione and coenzyme A.  From what I can tell, the activity of allicin can be summed up as an immune system booster.  For example, it inhibits bacterial and fungal growth (vampires), can activate human cell defense against oxidation, clears the blood vessels of cholesterol buildup, inhibits platelet-aggregation in blood vessels (preventing blood clots) and activates protection of cardiovascular and neurological networks [Molecules 2014, 19, 12591-12618].

Besides fresh garlic cloves, the benefits of allicin can be obtained from some garlic pills (look for allicin content), Aged garlic extract(TM) (presumably, aged so that the enzyme alliinase in garlic converts alliin to allicin; may be most concentrated option), steam distilled garlic [essential] oil and garlic oil macerate (mashed with fat).  This information is taken from the Linus Pauling Institute website. {This link leads to a website provided by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.  Karlium is not affiliated or endorsed by the Linus Pauling Institute or Oregon State University.}  Please read the information on garlic as a health aid, including interactions with medications, before using it in a different way from what you are accustomed.

If you are worried about garlic breath, caused by the allylmethyl sulphide that cannot broken down by the body, you could try eating an apple or drinking lemon juice or green tea.

Lastly, I want to mention that I did some research on garlic toxicity to pets, because I wondered if allicin at low dose could be beneficial to them also.  Here is a great article on the risks/benefits and recommended dosages of garlic supplements to cats and dogs.

The study determining whether garlic could cause blood cell destruction in dogs found that after feeding the dogs a huge amount of garlic (I weighed that 3 garlic cloves is about 5 g, so they were administering the equivalent of at least 15 garlic cloves to each dog per day), the Heinz bodies that they expected to destroy the cells did not, but other factors such as the appearance of eccentrocytes could lead to death, and they concluded that you should not give dogs garlic at all.  However, the review article that reviewed this study and others concluded that garlic is safe for dogs when used in moderation.  In addition, it seems to have been successfully used as a remedy for certain ailments of certain dogs, like fleas and ticks (vampires), and even as a regular supplement for immune health.  Let us not forget that too high a dosage (>400 mg/kg) of raw garlic can have toxic effects in humans.   Human red blood cells are also altered by garlic compounds.  It has also been shown that horses experience Heinz body anemia even at low dosages.

My conclusions:  More relevant, honest studies should be done to demystify the effect of garlic, in its various forms, on cats and dogs.  They should address the lowest dosage needed for a certain positive effect, highest dosage needed for a certain negative effect and the optimal formulations for the most benefit with the least risk.  I don’t have a furry pet or pet health training, so I cannot give a personal account of using garlic for pet health.  While I will continue to avidly eat cooked garlic, I will save the ‘interesting’ raw garlic experiences for times when I need an immune boost, especially since there are gentler sources of antimicrobials, adaptogens, antioxidants, etc., out there.

Garlic sprouts from local-ish pink garlic to be planted