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Why Are Radishes Spicy – And What To Do About It!

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Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow when bringing up a kitchen garden. They are versatile and can be used in multiple recipes to ramp up the flavor.

There are more benefits to this vegetable than you can count, including a low number of calories, a high amount of potassium and Vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber as well.

Despite all the ease, you might constantly be searching for “Why are radishes spicy?” This happens. Often the radishes will look fine and healthy, but as soon as you take a bite, they will come out as too hot to eat.

Keep reading to find out your answer to “Why are radishes spicy?” and what you can do about them.

Why Are Radishes Spicy
Radishes – via Flickr

Why Are Radishes Spicy?

Depending on which part of the world you are in, there will be multiple types of this particular vegetable available. There is horseradish, red radish, white, and even medium black radishes. Most times, people don’t mind the spicy flavor of radishes because it’s not so hot that you won’t eat them.

However, sometimes the spice quotient can be intolerable. In this case, you would want to know why your radishes turn out this spicy and what you can do to get the right flavor. Let’s find out Why Are Radishes Spicy?

Time in the Ground

Radishes mature very quickly, so the amount of time they should be kept in the ground before being pulled off is short. You shouldn’t let the radishes remain in the soil for more than 25 to 35 days. The longer they are in the ground, the more they will grow.

And as has been observed, taller radishes are hotter than medium-sized or shorter ones. So, make sure to pull them out on time to maintain the spice level.

Appropriate Weather for the Radishes

If radishes are not given the proper temperature or weather to grow in, they will develop a pungent taste. So, you need to ensure that you are sowing your vegetable in a precise time window.

Radishes need cooler temperatures to grow in, making the middle to end of spring the best time to sow your radishes.

As they will be ready within a month, just the ending few days of the coolness of spring are enough to keep an extra hot taste out of the radish. Extra warm or hot weather will make the radish spicier.

Inadequate Spacing

When seeds are not planted with adequate spacing in between, the growth of a radish slows down. Radishes being planted too close by leads to overcrowding, which causes the roots to form slowly. This delayed growth and excess time in the soil are another reason the radishes turn out spicy.

Not Enough Moisture

Like most crops, radishes need just the right amount of water. Giving them too much water can make the soil crusty and delay growth. In the opposite situation, not giving enough water can also slow down root formation.

Both these cases lead to a decreased pace of development and more time for radishes in the soil, causing them to heat up.

Excessive Nitrogen

To aid in growth and proper nutrition, you might add a nitrogen-filled fertilizer in the ground, which can lead to the over-development of leaves or foliage and end up being an obstacle in the growth of the radish.

The excessive foliage needs to stay out of the way so radish can develop on time and be harvested before it turns too spicy.

Why Are Radishes Spicy 2
Radishes via Flickr

What Gives Radishes The Spicy Flavor?

The word spicy is used when describing the flavor of radishes but what our taste buds feel when digging into a radish is not spice. There is no spice molecule in this vegetable like the ones found in chilies.

The chemical formation of substances present inside the radish makes us feel the same sensation as when we eat anything spicy. This sensation is due to the substance allyl isothiocyanate.

The substance is formed by the combination of glucosinolates and the enzyme myrosinase, and these molecules are not present in the whole radish but are contained in their cells. The cells are damaged and release these substances when someone bites.

They contain the element Sulphur, which gives you that spicy tingle as soon as you eat. You can find the same molecules in horseradish and mustard.

How to Save a Radish from the Spicy Taste?

The main thing to remember here is that the more time a radish spends in the ground, the spicier it will become.

To save yourself from a basket full of pungent tasting radishes, keep a close watch on how long you keep the radishes in the soil before pulling them out. Hence, longer radishes are hotter than shorter ones.

To prevent the radishes from turning too hot, make sure to plant them with enough space between them – at least 2.5 to 5 cm apart. Grow in small batches rather than large, crowded ones. Keep the soil moist without overwatering. Plant the seeds in the cooler seasons of fall or spring.

What to Do If the Radishes Are Too Spicy?

If the damage has already been done, you can still take a few steps. The spicy taste is mostly in the peel or outer skin of the radish, so you might notice that taking the peel off will significantly lower the hotness level.

Alternatively, you can soak them in ice-cold water for an hour or two, use them to make pickles, or cook them. Cooking them with heat tends to tone down the spicy taste.


Radishes make for a great addition to a normal salad. Their unique taste and low-calorie count make them suitable for use in several recipes, including in diet recipes like paleo diets.

Although homegrown vegetables have their freshness, you can buy radishes of different kinds in a farmer’s market, too, if they turn out too spicy to eat. Just remember to provide all the prerequisites in moderation and take them out at the earliest, and you will have yourself juicy, tolerable radishes.

So, now that you have your answer to “Why are radishes spicy?” take notes and enjoy! Don’t forget to share your view in the comment section.