The perennial plant from which the root vegetable horseradish comes from has been cultivated since antiquity. We normally call it horseradish, but what we usually buy and use is the horseradish root. Hotly, pungent, and fleshy, horseradish was used as a condiment in ancient Greece, according to Charles R. Boning, in the book Florida’s Best Herbs and Spices. According to Boning, the leaves of the horseradish plant “are edible but rarely used as greens.”
This is the scientific classification of the horseradish plant:
Species: A. rusticana
Binomial name: Armoracia rusticana
- Horseradish may not be as popular as cabbage, but they both come from the same family. Mark Reinfeld, in the book The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe, wrote: “It is part of the same family of plants as mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbage.”
- The International Horseradish Festival is held every June in Collinsville, Illinois.
- The isothiocyanate found in the roost is what gives horseradish flavor.
Horseradish Buying Guide
When buying horseradish, remember these tips:
- Check the condition and quality of the roots. It is ok if it has marks or an uneven surface texture because it is normal with root crops. Just make sure there are no holes or any rotting or bad parts. Watch out for molds, soft or green spots, shriveled spots, or dry spots. These are indications that the horseradish root is not in excellent condition anymore.
Horseradish Production & Farming in Texas
Horseradish can grow in Texas but there is no large-scale commercial production of horseradish in Texas according to Texas A&M.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
Pesticides are used in growing horseradish, like glyphosate.
Egyptians have been using horseradish since 1500 BC.
The book Florida’s Best Herbs and Spices gives the readers an overview of how horseradish moved all around the world over time. “Horseradish is native to southern Europe…It was introduced into North America during colonial times…Horseradish is grown as a commercial crop in the United States.”
Boston has been growing horseradish since the mid-1800s. Cultivation in California began after World War II. It spread in other parts of the US until it became a major agricultural component in Illinois. Jules Janick, in the book Horticultural Reviews Volume 35, wrote: ” Collinsville, Illinois, advertises itself as the Horseradish Capital of the World.” Horseradish is also produced in Eau Claire in Wisconsin and Tule Lake in California.
Hungary is the biggest single producer of horseradish in Europe.
Horseradish is sold prepacked. It can come in a bunch or it can be sold loose.
Book author Charles R. Boning describes horseradish as “hot, biting, pungent, and somewhat bitter” in his book, adding that “the scent is pleasant and aromatic.” It is great with roasted meat or roasted vegetables.
In Southern Germany, it is a tradition to serve a dish made with horseradish and beef for dinner during a wedding. Meat and horseradish form a traditional combination in Serbian cooking. In other parts of Europe, roast meat is consumed with a condiment made from horseradish root and vinegar.
We commonly consume horseradish as a condiment and table relish. However, horseradish is also an ingredient in food and dishes that normally doesn’t have horseradish, like ice cream, for example.
If you are offered Hrenovuha, a type of vodka from Russia and Ukraine, you are drinking an alcoholic drink made from horseradish and spices.
Many people like horseradish. But there should be caution when preparing and eating this root crop. According to the book Florida’s Best Herbs and Spices “When taken in excess quantity, it can irritate the eyes and sinuses…To avoid irritating the eyes, the root should be grated in a food processor…When consumed in excess quantity, the root has been known to cause gastric upset.” Boning added: “Horseradish is generally deemed safe for human consumption, but is an occasional allergen and irritant.”
Use cut horseradish right away. Grated horseradish should be preserved in vinegar. Uncut horseradish can be stored. The crisper drawer of the refrigerator is the best place to store uncut horseradish. It will keep for several weeks if stored here.
Fall and winter are the peak seasons of horseradish harvest. Because they keep well, expect properly stored horseradish to keep until spring.
Boning shared in his book how horseradish is used in cooking food and making drinks. “Horseradish is an ingredient in shrimp cocktail sauces and Bloody Marys. It is also used in Western versions of wasabi. Horseradish is one of the 5 bitter herbs of Passover.”
Horseradish is a common alternative to wasabi plant when making the popular Japanese condiment wasabi because wasabi plant is not easy to find and it is expensive, whereas horseradish is common and inexpensive.
Grate horseradish and mix it with mayonnaise or salad dressing to make horseradish sauce.
Horseradish is best added a few minutes before the dish is completely cooked. Cooking it for a long period diminishes the flavor of horseradish.
Horseradish is low in saturated fat and low in cholesterol. It contains calcium, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and zinc.
Horseradish can help clear sinuses, improve heart health, lower blood pressure, support weight loss, promote strong bones, protect the stomach from infection, and help detoxify the body. Eating horseradish can help boost the body’s immune system. Horseradish can also help in cancer prevention.