Horseradish is a flavorful herb that has been used for centuries to enhance the flavor of food, aid in its digestion and to keep people healthy. Today, horseradish is best known for adding zesty flavor to condiments of all kinds, and in the United States, the state of Illinois grows more than 50 percent of the annual horseradish crop, which is used to produce about 6 million gallons of ground horseradish.
Horseradish has been used as a folk remedy because of its medicinal qualities. It helps relieve congestion and coughs from colds and sinus infections. It stimulates digestion, which makes it a good partner for meat. Horseradish also has diuretic and antibiotic properties, which make it a home remedy for mild chronic urinary tract infections.
Research at the University of Illinois has shown that horseradish may also help the body resist cancer. Glucosinolates, chemical compounds found in horseradish, facilitate carcinogen removal by the liver. The anticancer effects of the horseradish root are increased when it is processed.
Horseradish thrives in the garden or flower bed and is occasionally found growing along country roads. Horseradish can be invasive in some environments, so be sure to give it plenty of room to spread out. A single piece of root is all that is needed to start a horseradish plant. Horseradish prefers sun and does not like to be constantly wet, but it will thrive on neglect in many less-than-ideal locations. The plant has large leaves, reaches a height of 30 inches and produces a white flower when it blooms. Dig horseradish after the first frost, take the large tap root and leave the small side roots for next year’s crop.
Horseradish tap roots
Dig large horseradish tap roots after first frost. Wash and scrape (like carrots). Slice or chunk, place in blender and grind, adding small amounts of vinegar for a good consistency (about 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup horseradish). The vinegar preserves the horseradish and enhances the flavor. Vinegar stops the heat-building enzyme activity that grinding causes. If you want hotter horseradish, wait before adding the vinegar; adding the vinegar right away will make the horseradish milder.
For red horseradish, add some pickled beet juice to the mixture.
Note: Be careful when taking the lid off the blender after grinding. It will most likely make your eyes water, take your breath away and probably clear your sinuses, too.
Place the ground horseradish in jelly jars, cap and place in refrigerator or freezer. Use a dab to enhance the flavor of eggs, meats, potatoes, vegetables or sandwiches.
Try adding this flavorful, healthful herb to your diet and reap the benefits. All ingredients in these recipes can be played with. Add more or less according to your tastes.
4-pound pork roast, or 6 to 8 pork chops
1 or 2 large cans sauerkraut
3 to 4 tablespoons horseradish mustard, or 1 to 2 tablespoons horseradish and 2 to 3 tablespoons regular mustard
1 can beer
Place pork roast in slow cooker. Drain sauerkraut in colander and rinse with cold water to remove salt. Pour sauerkraut over pork. Add horseradish mustard and beer. Cook on low 7 or 8 hours, or on high 4 or 5 hours, occasionally stirring mustard into sauerkraut.
Recipe Box Requests
In our March/April 2009 Recipe Box, we published two recipes for Salt-Rising Bread. Martha Davis, Oaktown, Indiana, called me with this reminder: A distinctive, and strong, odor is associated with this bread as the starter ages. She also remembers the bread being delicious straight out of the oven or toasted, but it’s not as good when it’s cold.
Virginia Weaver, Weirton, West Virginia, requests a recipe for horseradish pickles, using either fresh pickles or canned sweet pickles.
Thomas Hiegel, Union City, Ohio, sent this seemingly simple recipe.
5 1/3 cups vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup salt
1 ounce dry mustard
3/4 cup horseradish
Wash and cut medium-size cucumbers lengthwise. Put in gallon jar. Mix all other ingredients and pour over cucumbers. Let stand 30 days.
Trilby McDonald, Hedgesville, West Virginia, sent a recipe using sweet pickles from the grocery store. “The pickles are delicious. I enjoy the Grit very much, since I used to deliver it when I was a teen. My brother started, and when he left for military service, my sister continued the route until she married. Then I was next. It was from 1964 to 1970 that I was able to bring such a wonderful publication to so many friends.”
Horseradish Pickles, In a Hurry
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
1 pint jar sweet pickles
1 jar ground horseradish (sometimes called pure, not the creamed variety)
Bring sugar, water and vinegar to a boil; turn off heat to cool. Open pickle jar, and pour contents in colander. When drained, slice pickles down the middle or in quarters; don’t slice completely through pickles. Stuff with horseradish and place back in original jar. Pour warm liquid over pickles to top of jar, replace lid and set aside for 2 to 3 days to flavor. The longer they sit, the better they get.
Variation: Omit vinegar and use 1 cup water. Personal tastes vary, so fix pickles to suit taste.
For quart-size jar of pickles, double sugar, vinegar and water.
E.F. Gierlinger, Clymer, New York, sends a bit more complicated, and spicier, recipe.
Senf Gurken or Thunder & Lightning Pickles
6 1/2 pounds ripe cucumbers
3 pints ice water
2/3 cup pickling salt
2 to 4 sprigs dill blossoms, seeds well developed
1 tablespoon white mustard seeds
2 teaspoons fresh grated horseradish
2 pods hot red peppers, medium size
2 1/2 cups apple vinegar (5 1/2 percent)
2/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Wash and pare cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Cut halves in thirds lengthwise, then crosswise. Place in glass or enamel bowl. Mix ice water and pickling salt; cover cucumbers. Cover and let stand overnight.
In morning, drain well. Divide dill, mustard seed, horseradish and hot peppers; place into 5 sterilized 2-quart jars. Heat vinegar, water and sugar to a boil. Add cucumbers and simmer 5 minutes. Remove cucumbers and pack into jars, leaving 3/4-inch headspace. Add boiling solution to 1/4-inch headspace. Seal at once. Yields about 10 quarts.
Josette Giacobbi, Columbia, South Carolina, is looking for a roasted red pepper spread recipe from a Ball Blue Book.
Norman Stringfield, Newport, Tennessee, and Patsy Blankenship, Moyock, North Carolina, sent the same recipe from the Ball’s Blue Book of Preserving, which sounds exactly like the recipe requested by Josette.
Roasted Red Peppers
6 pounds sweet red peppers (about 8 large)
1 pound Roma tomatoes (about 10 medium)
2 large cloves garlic
1 small white onion
2 tablespoons minced basil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Roast peppers under broiler or on grill at 425°F, until skin wrinkles and chars in spots. Turn peppers over and roast opposite side. Remove from heat. Place in paper bag; secure opening. Cool 15 minutes. Roast tomatoes, garlic and onion under broiler or on grill 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place tomatoes in paper bag; secure opening. Cool 15 minutes. Peel garlic and onion. Finely mince garlic; set aside. Finely mince onion. Measure 1/4 cup; set aside.
Peel and seed red peppers and tomatoes. Puree in food processor or blender.
Combine all ingredients in large saucepot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring to prevent sticking. Reduce heat; simmer until spread thickens.
Ladle hot spread into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust 2-piece lids. Process 10 minutes in boiling water canner. Yields about 5 half-pints.
Helen Lamison, Carnegie, Pennsylvania, sends this recipe, which sounded too good to pass up.
Roasted Red Pepper Spread
1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 package (4 ounces) crumbled Feta cheese, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
In mixing bowl, combine peppers, cheese, onions, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice; set aside. Brush bread slices lightly with olive oil. Place on cookie sheet; broil on each side until lightly toasted. Top each slice with 1 tablespoon red pepper spread.
While this recipe doesn’t include roasted red peppers, it does sound delicious. Connie Burke, Brookhaven, Mississippi, sends it, saying, “I don’t have a recipe for roasted red peppers, but I thought you might like to try this spread recipe that my mother-in-law, Ella Burke, made for us for many years. She was a fine Southern lady and a very good cook. If you do try this recipe, I hope it works out as well for you as it did for me.”