Horseradish

 

Storage


Store horseradish root unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. It begins to dry up as soon as it is cut, so if you have purchased it at the market, try to use it within a week or two for fullest flavour. Once it is cut or grated, used within a few days unless you preserve it in vinegar. Freezing is not recommended for whole pieces. However, grated fresh horseradish may be frozen up to 6 months. You may wish to flash-freeze it by the tablespoon in ice trays or on waxed paper, and then place in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer. Keep in mind that it will lose pungency when frozen.


Nutrition

Horseradish is low in calories and fat; but contains good amount of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. The active principles in the root found to have anti-inflammatory, diuretic (increase urine output), and nerve soothing effects. It also has good amounts of vitamin-C which is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. 100 g fresh root provides 29 mg or 41% of daily-recommended values.

Varieties we grow:





History

The Egyptians knew about horseradish as far back as 1500 B.C. Early Greeks used it as a rub for low back pain and an aphrodisiac. Jews still use it during Passover seders as one of the bitter herbs. Some used horseradish syrup as an expectorant cough medicine; others were convinced it cured everything from rheumatism to tuberculosis. Legend has it the Delphic oracle told Apollo, "The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold."

More recent appreciation of horseradish is believed to have originated in Central Europe, the area also linked to the most widely held theory of how horseradish was named. In German, it’s called "meerrettich" (sea radish) because it grows by the sea. Many believe the English mispronounced the German word "meer" and began calling it "mareradish." Eventually it became known as horseradish. The word "horse" (as applied in "horseradish") is believed to denote large size and coarseness. "Radish" comes from the Latin radix meaning root.

During the Renaissance, horseradish consumption spread from Central Europe northward to Scandinavia and westward to England. It wasn’t until 1640, however, that the British ate horseradish -- and then it was consumed only by country folk and labourers. By the late 1600s, horseradish was the standard accompaniment for beef and oysters among all Englishmen. The English, in fact, grew the pungent root at inns and coach stations, to make cordials to revive exhausted travellers. Early settlers brought horseradish to North America and began cultivating it in the colonies. It was common in the northeast by 1806, and it grew wild near Boston by 1840.

Commercial cultivation in America began in the mid 1850s, when immigrants started horseradish farms in the Midwest. By the late 1890s, a thriving horseradish industry had developed in an area of fertile soil on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.

Later, smaller centres of horseradish farming sprouted in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After World War II, homesteaders in the Tulelake region of Northern California began cultivating the root in the west; other areas in the country followed suit.

Today, approximately 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the U.S. -- enough to generously season sandwiches to reach 12 times around the world.


Recipes

Fresh root has beige outer colour. Clean it using moist cloth to remove surface dirt as you do it for ginger. Wash gently in cold water and mop it dry. In larger roots, the core may be fibrous and bitter. Remove and discard the core, along with any green spots. Keep the unused root in a loosely wrapped plastic bag inside the refrigerator to prevent it from drying out.

Horseradish is like the allium family -- the finer it is chopped or grated, the more pungent the flavour.

When grating horseradish, it is easiest to use a food processor. Cut the peeled root into cubes and pulse to the desired consistency. The fumes will be quite strong and can actually burn your nose and eyes. Be sure to open a window, remove the lid at arm's length, and turn your head away.

• For homemade prepared horseradish, just add white vinegar and salt to taste while processing. Store in a lidded glass jar in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks.


• Fold 1 Tablespoon fresh grated horseradish into stiffly-whipped heavy cream and salt to taste for    a classic horseradish sauce to accompany beef dishes. Dill is also a tasty addition.


  1. Add 1 Tablespoon fresh grated horseradish to 1 cup applesauce for a piquant condiment to pork dishes.


  1. If you want to retain the spicy zing of horseradish in cooked dishes, add it at the end of the cooking process, after the dish has been removed from the heat.