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Fall Flavors: Harvesting Horseradish


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Horseradish is not a vegetable I was expecting to write about (or try) any time in the recent past or near future. However, when MyVeronaNJ’s own Virginia Citrano told me that her horseradish was ready to be harvested, I’m sure my eyes lit up. At least it felt like they did.

I was up for an experiment and this seemed like a great place to start. The history of horseradish goes back to 1500 B.C. when it was used for back pain, as a cough expectorant, and as an aphrodisiac. It was extremely valuable and as time moved on it’s growing and harvesting spread across Europe and eventually to the United States in the 1850s.

Most often what we see, and use, is called prepared horseradish. It’s horseradish that is peeled (like a carrot), grated, and then preserved in vinegar. My most common personal use for it has been to spice up a Bloody Mary, a Christmas Day tradition in my house growing up.

And so, here I was presented with an opportunity to make my own prepared horseradish. I was nervous at first. This was new to me and I was afraid I’d mess it up. Then what would I do come Christmas? (I know, that’s what the grocery store is for). I asked around and got bits and pieces of advice, and some excitement, from cooking friends who have fond memories of horseradish in a grandparent’s backyard. What I learned is that taking horseradish from raw root form and turning it into prepared horseradish is just about the easiest thing I have ever done. The whole operation took me about 45 minutes, including taking pictures.

How to make your own Prepared Horseradish:

  1. Wash away all dirt from roots, and then peel (just like you would a carrot)
  2. Grate horseradish (I used a micro-plane grater. You can also use a food processor with a grating blade or a hand grater). Many suggest grating outside but I found the smell to be reminiscent of Christmas so I was fine doing this in my kitchen.
  3. Add grated horseradish to a glass jar. Fill to about 2/3 full. My roots were not extremely large, so I used an 8 oz. canning jar with lid.
  4. Add 1/2-1 tsp. kosher salt. (If you have a pint jar then use 1 tsp. salt)
  5. Fill jar to within 1/2 ” of top with white vinegar.
  6. Add lid. Shake gently to combine. Refrigerate.

What to do with your prepared horseradish:

This is why I love the Internet. Until I wrote this story, I knew of three uses for horseradish: Bloody Marys (I know, I mention them a lot), cocktail sauce, and adding them to a base of whipped heavy cream to create a dipping sauce we used to have with beef fondue (another Christmas tradition in my house). But, there is so much more out there.

The horseradish Web site has a recipe guide for everything from cocktails, to appetizers, main courses and kid-friendly foods.

One of my other favorite websites, Fine Cooking has several recipes that use prepared horseradish, including a horseradish cream that seems to be best paired with beef. There is also a sweet potato-russet potato gratin dish that looks great. As a fan of the cheese-potato combination, I think I may need to try this one.

Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food has recipes ranging from salad dressings to beef to fish. Williams Sonoma has a Crab with Horseradish Mayonnaise that absolutely looks worth trying.

What have I learned? Horseradish goes well beyond the (I’m not even going to say it). Enjoy!

You can follow all of my cooking adventures on Twitter: @TracyCooksIt

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