We Can Phickle That! Shiver Me Liver Pickles

Colorful pickles

I’m kind of obsessed with all the crazy shades of color I have going in my pickle jars right now.

Several years ago I was hit by a car riding my bike.  I told the whole story on stage and won the title, “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia” as a result. (If you don’t like swearing, you may not want to watch that video, btw.  Language is very adult. I got hit by a car, cut me some slack.).  So at least there was one good outcome.  The less good outcomes of this guy taking me down were years of physical therapy culminating in spine surgery when I could no longer walk, 6 months of disability and missed worked and a liver that seems to have been damaged by the medication that I will never repudiate because it gave me back the ability to walk and stopped the excruciating pain from radiating down my legs.  Seems like a fair exchange, right?

Watermelon radish, daikon and burdock root

The piles of farm veg I use for liver support.

Anyway, I’ve self-diagnosed this liver jawn from the book You Are What You Eat by Gillian McKeith (among other sources). It’s kind of a fun way to play “What’s wrong with me?” using diagnostic techniques from multiple branches of non-mainstream medicine.  My tongue, skin and functions all pointed to a liver issue and (also an insufficient amount of dietary fat) when I first used the book as a guide several years ago.  Since then I’ve tried to care for my liver, by cutting back on alcohol and eating foods that the liver loves.  I also sip on milk thistle infusions and consume a foraged nettle tincture from time to time. And here you thought I was the least hippy of the fermenters.

These pickles are a combination of things I like to eat, things I think are pretty in a jar and things that make my insides happy.  While I am a proponent of fermented foods for many reasons, health is definitely why I got started, and while it has definitely not made me a perfect specimen, in some ways my ferments have truly helped me.

Here is a favorite, healing pickle that I make if something tells me my liver is unhappy with me again.

The selected ingredients:

Black Radish, Daikon, Watermelon Radish – Radishes have long been eaten alongside fatty foods, perhaps to support the liver in its duties.  Maybe this is why the Japanese often eat daikon with tempura and the French enjoy buttered radishes?  I also love the colors this particular combination of radishes imparts.

black radish close up

Pickled rhinoceros! Just kidding. Just a black radish.

Burdock Root – Good for SO many things, including eczema, a disease my parents were informed I had while they were still in the delivery room.

Turmeric – My go-to anti-inflammatory. I put it in anything I’m going to use as medicine.

watermelon radish

Unassuming from the outside, but once sliced, these watermelon radishes live up to the beauty of their namesake fruit.


Uncooked radishes, including fermented radishes, can be less than optimal for people with severe thyroid conditions.  If that applies to you, you may want to sit this one out.  This is the quantity of sliced veggies I got into my quart jar.  The size of your radishes may differ from the size of mine, so be prepared for some snacky bites if you have a bit too much for your jar, or just use a larger container.

Also, these stink. I love the smell of fermenting veggies, but for real, these are only delightful if you too love that stench.  I’m not sure, but I think it’s the black radish that fills the room with the aroma of microbes at work.

Pink and black pickles

It’s, like, a totally 80s pickle color scheme.


  • 3-4 watermelon radishes
  • 2 black radishes
  • 1 daikon
  • 2 inches turmeric root
  • 1 thin burdock root
  • 2 cups of brine (1 tablespoon of salt dissolved in 2 cups of room temperature water)


  1. Slice all veggies to about 1/3 of an inch (~1 cm) thick
  2. layer them into a quart jar until you are just below the shoulders of the jar
  3. Pour brine over and weight your veggies down, using either the cheapo jar method, some jar weights or another method of your choice.
  4. Allow to ferment for 2 weeks.  The brine will become gorgeous within a couple hours.
  5. Remove weights once you’re happy with the acidity level, put a lid on it and stick it in the fridge.


Fermented radish pickles





  1. says

    Not to detract from the content of your post, but just wanted to say your photos today are so lovely, the colors are gorgeous! I love that healthful things can be beautiful.

    • Amanda says

      Thank you so much, S! That means a lot to me. As I recently said to a friend about the photography on my site, “It’s a labor of…well, it’s a labor.” I work hard at it, and I am so glad that someone likes it. I will continue to strive to improve!

  2. Ann says

    So glad to hear you mention those with thyroid issues. I had to have my thyroid removed 5 years ago and didn’t know about goitrogens until last winter. My breakfast of kraut or kimchee and eggs has had to go. I really miss that breakfast a lot and have been trying to find something suitable to replace it. It was my go-to dish for after the babies were older and finished nursing to help get rid of those last few extra pounds. Very filling and long lasting. Now, I limit those foods to late afternoon/dinnertime, as suggested by my doctor. All is well now, but I do miss my morning kraut.

    • Amanda says

      Hi Ann,

      That is a huge bummer. I’m so sorry to hear that!! Having said that, there are tons and tons of goitrogen-free veggies that ferment super well. Have you considered making an alternative kimchi? One that skips the cabbage in favor of a non-brassica veg? I’ve made several kimchis that are cabbage free and taste quite lovely using the kimchi method and flavor/spice blend. Asparagus kimchi from this spring was pretty amazing, but I’ve also had some notable carrot kimchis, perilla-leaf kimchis and I could go on and on!

      I’d never heard about the effect being weaker later in the day? Could you clue me in? I’d love to know more!



    • Amanda says

      Yes, indeedy, Becky! Radishes are one of the tastiest and easiest ferments, in my opinion. I always have a batch going while they’re in season.

  3. Ann says

    Dinner is the twelve hour opposite time from when I take my synthroid. My doc says that’s the time to take iron and eat all those things that could counteract the absorption of the synthroid.
    I can usually get fresh perilla leaf at my local international food store. I’ll try that out. I had never thought of making a carrot kimchee. Thanks!

    • Amanda says

      Thanks, Marisa! It was pretty sizable, and it got some press afterwards because I won the competition. So I hope word got back to him and he felt some shame! Thanks for reading (and watching!).

    • Amanda says

      Hi Rakesh,

      Radishes have been shown to have a liver cleansing impact, which is why they’re often consumed with fatty foods. Since you have a thyroid condition, though, this would not be the best option for you. Goitrogens are not destroyed in fermentation, unfortunately.

      I hope that helps!


  4. says

    Amazing story! Thanks for sharing. I have to try this. I am trying to heal the multiple issues I have with digestion and figuring out what makes me feel better. It is inspirational that you have been through much worse and have figured it out. My first attempt at fermenting red cabbage did not turn out well. It may have been because I did not weigh the veggies down. I just placed a cheese cloth on top of the jar. Pre-ordered your book on amazon! Looking forward to it!

    • Amanda says

      Thank you so much! I am definitely still in the camp of finding what works, although I’ve found a lot of things that work (that were very contrary to medical and health blog-ical opinion). I wish you all the luck in the world! And yes, I am guessing that the issue with your red cabbage was not submerging, so please don’t give up!


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