GROWING AND USING HORSERADISH

Posted: October 18, 2012 in Food, garden, horseradish, Recipes
Tags: , , ,

Horseradish just doesn’t get the credit it deserves. A world without horseradish would mean boring Bloody Mary’s, cocktail sauces with no kick, and steaks and roast beef sandwiches just crying out for sauces and mayos with personality.

Horseradish is a perennial plant from the Brassicaceae family, which also includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbage. It’s mainly grown for its white tapered root, which, when not disturbed, has little aroma. But when you cut or grate it, enzymes from the damaged plant cells release oils that give horseradish that wonderful pungent smell and flavor. It loses this pungency just as quickly, unless you store it in vinegar, which is why bottled or “prepared” horseradish is always found in a vinegar solution.

In the garden, horseradish can become invasive, meaning it will want to take over if you let it, but in my garden, it doesn’t get to do that because I regularly harvest a couple of roots for my kitchen.

 

Horseradish in the garden

Growing up in a Lithuanian family, there were very few spices ever used in cooking. Most of the food was pretty bland. Mom would salt food, but even black pepper was pretty rare. Peppers of any kind were never used–they never grew in Lithuania–so horseradish became the universal ingredient when a kick was needed. My grandfather loved it. I can still remember my grandfather crying his eyes out as he grated a freshly picked horseradish root from his garden. It was absolutely a labor of love. He would keep his grated horseradish in vinegar in the fridge, and then when dinner came around, it would quickly find its way to the table next to just about any meat my grandmother was cooking.

These days, with food processors in just about any kitchen, there’s no excuse not to use fresh horseradish. Your nasal passages and eyeballs are safe from being blown out.

Some of the basic applications for horseradish are still the best. The following recipes use prepared horseradish you easily find in the supermarket, but use fresh if you have it.

 

A freshly harvested horseradish root

For a simple horseradish mayo:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
Combine both ingredients in a bowl, cover with plastic, and refirgerate. Goes great on a roast beef sandwich.

 

For a fancier horseradish sauce that goes great on grilled salmon:

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover with plastic, and place in fridge for a few hours for the flavors to blend.

 

 

Alz cocktail sauce

2 cups ketchup

4 Tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon Tabasco

5 grinds of fresh black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vodka

Combine all ingredients. Store in a tight plastic container in the freezer. Thanks to the vodka, my cocktail sauce never freezes solid, so just scoop out what you need and let it thaw.


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