Like coriander or capers, horseradish root packs a flavor that divides taste buds – you either like it or you don’t.
I happen to be one of those who love the hot, spicy kick, but only in very small amounts. As my husband absolutely loathes horseradish, it’s not really worth it to grow it just for myself.
It’s probably just as well, as this very cold hardy (to zone 2) perennial has the potential to spread like crazy in the garden. Horseradish needs just a tiny segment of buried root to form new plants. You can check the progress of aggressive plants by completely removing the roots for harvest in autumn. Apparently, it’s a far better idea to grow horseradish in containers – but they have to be very deep and large to accommodate each plant’s large taproot.
Horseradish is one of the most low-maintenance members of the genus Brassica, which includes cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Once established, there’s no need to water horseradish unless there is a long period of drought, and no applications of fertilizer are necessary. Give plants a full sun location and they should perform mightily. Just watch out for cabbage worms, a common Brassica pest.
We recently received a fairly sizeable chunk of horseradish root as part of our bi-weekly CSA share, and I was initially flummoxed as to what to do with it all! It’s not recommended to freeze whole pieces, so after gifting a couple of slices to some horseradish-loving co-workers, I set out to pickle my leftovers. Here’s how I did it:
(Don’t be alarmed by the lack of measurements in this recipe! There are only three ingredients, and the measurements depend on how much horseradish root you use).
Peel the horseradish root. Grate root into a small bowl. If you are using a hand grater, try not to breathe in the fumes from the freshly-grated root. (The experience is a million times worse than slicing onions!). You can make the job a little less odoriferous by slicing the root into 3” chunks and throwing them in the blender. Make sure the lid is in place, then pulse on grate a few times until the root is finely shredded.
Remove the grated root from the blender jar, and place in a small bowl. Pour over enough vinegar to just cover the grated root. (It shouldn’t be floating!). Add a pinch of salt. Then set the bowl aside, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Carefully strain the grated horseradish through a fine sieve, reserving all of the vinegar in a separate bowl. Get out the blender again, and scrape all of the root into the jar. Add half of the reserved vinegar to the root in the blender and secure the lid in place. Pulse on puree until the root and vinegar mixture resembles a thick paste. If you need to add more vinegar, go ahead, but don’t make the mixture too runny (unless you like it that way). I left my sauce a bit on the chunky side – that’s okay, too. If you want to add a bit of salt, do so to taste. Transfer the prepared horseradish sauce into a clean Mason jar, and seal. There’s no need to process this sauce in a canner – but make sure you refrigerate it. It will keep for 2 months. Of course, you’ll want to use it on roasted beef, but you can also add a smidgen to fresh green salads or alongside other condiments on hotdogs, hamburgers, or tofu patties.