Radish sprouts are germinated radish seeds which have just begun to put out leaves. They are used in some Asian dishes, and they can also be used on salads, sandwiches, and dishes from other regions of the world as well. Like other sprouts such as alfalfa sprouts and sunflower sprouts, radish sprouts have an excellent nutritional value, and they can be a very useful supplement to the diet, especially for people who live in areas where produce is hard to get in the winter. Many markets and health food stores carry radish sprouts, and they can also be made at home.
Typically the seeds of the daikon radish are used to make radish sprouts. Whether sprouts are being made at home or for commercial use, the seeds are first rinsed and soaked for 24 hours, before being transferred to a jar covered in netting or a sprouter. The seeds are kept at room temperature, and turned and rinsed every 12 hours; within three to six days, young sprouts will start to emerge, and they can be used as desired.
Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K are all present in radish sprouts, along with zinc, calcium, and iron. Radish sprouts also have a mild peppery flavor, just like radish plants, and some people find this flavor enjoyable. Since other sprouts can be a bit bland or dull, radish sprouts can make a pleasant contrast with their brief hit of spice. The sprouts can be eaten raw or very lightly cooked; because they are so delicate, it's usually better to just toss the sprouts with a cooked dish like a stir fry, allowing the residual heat to cook the sprouts.
Sprouts should always be rinsed before use, and you should discard sprouts which are slimy, along with sprouts that have acquired a strange smell. Once sprouts have matured to your satisfaction, they can be stored under refrigeration, which will slow the rate of growth and also prevent decay and mold. Try to use sprouts within a week, and be sure to keep them rinsed and drained.
Several food safety agencies have issued warnings about sprouts. They can harbor various harmful bacteria, especially when handled commercially by numerous people, any one of whom could have bacterial hitchhikers. Because of this, cooking commercial sprouts is often recommended, especially if the sprouts are to be served to people with compromised immune systems.